REEVA SPEC TOR SIMON
The country known today as Iraq was created after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, as a result of World War I, from three former Ottoman provinces: Baghdad, Basra, and Mosul. Through most of its history it has been a battleground between empires. Iraq is bordered on the west by the Syrian Desert, which stretches east almost to the city of Baghdad; in the north it is bordered by the Kurdish mountains of southeastern Turkey, and by Iran, whose mountains are in the north. In the east the Shatt-al-Arab extension of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers borders Iran and leads to the Persian Gulf; in the southwest the marsh areas and extensive date plantations near the city of Basra and the Arabian Desert are located near Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
For the most part rural, the population of Iraq consists of a Shiite Muslim majority in the south but a Sunni Arab minority living in Baghdad that has dominated modern political life. Iraq has small communities of Eastern Rites Christians, heterodox Yazidis, and in the north the Kurds, a tribal people who are Sunni Muslims but not Arab and who consider their homeland to be in the region around Mosul. They dream of an independent Kurdistan.
Although some Jewish farmers in northern Iraq lived in villages—some entirely Jewish—that had patron-client relationships with the Kurdish tribes of the area, most Iraqi Jews were urban. The majority lived in Baghdad, while smaller communities were located in the major cities of Mosul and Basra. They lived in Kirkuk, Irbil, and Sulaimaniya in the north and to the south of