Nuclear Weapons History

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Mesopotamia, whose territory was roughly equivalent to that of modern Iraq, fell to the Ottoman Turks in the 16th century and remained part of the Ottoman Empire until a British invasion during World War One. As a method for ensuring the success of the uprising against the Ottoman Turks, the British supported the national independence movement within Iraq. However, in 1920 the Treaty of Sèvres established Iraq as a mandate of the League of Nations under British administration. The delay in attaining independence provoked a revolt in 1920, which was subsequently suppressed by the British. The containment of the rebellion was costly to the British, who soon realised the expediency in terminating the mandate, and promoted an interim government in 1921 headed by King Faisal I. In 1924 Iraq reluctantly agreed to a treaty with Great Britain whereby Britain was granted the right of veto over legislation and maintenance of British military bases. A further treaty, signed in 1930, provided for a 25-year alliance with Britain. In 1932 the British mandate was terminated and Iraq entered the League of Nations as an independent state. 1936 saw the first of seven military coups over the following five years, providing an indication of the future role of the military in Iraqi politics. In April 1941, Rashid Ali al-Gailani (leader of a radical nationalist anti-British movement) seized power from the pro-British government of Prime Minister Gen. Nuri as-Said. In response the British reinforced their garrisons and defeated the revolt. In 1943 Iraq declared war on the Axis countries. Iraq formed part of the Arab League's unsuccessful war against Israel in 1948. In the mid-1950s the Iraqi regime implemented a national development programme, financed mostly through oil revenues. The US extended technical aid to the country and, after 1956, military assistance. Iraqi diplomatic relations with the USSR were severely damaged in 1955, following Soviet support for Kurdish nationalism. In 1955 the Baghdad Pact, a mutual security treaty, was agreed between Iraq, Turkey, Pakistan, Iran, and Britain. During the 1956 Suez crisis the Iraqi government expressed unequivocal support for Egypt. In 1958, as a counter-measure to the federation of Syria and Egypt into the United Arab Republic (UAR), Iraq and Jordan announced their merger into the pro-Western Arab Union. On 14th July 1958 General Abd al-Karim Kassem led a revolution deposing the royal family. Kassem proclaimed Iraq a republic and declared Islam the national religion. King Faisal, Crown Prince Abd al-Ilah, and Nuri al-Said were executed, and the Arab Union was dissolved in favour of establishing closer relations with the UAR. Iraq formally withdrew from the Baghdad Pact in 1959. Relations with the USSR improved but Iraq maintained a stance of non-alignment during the Cold War. Iraq claimed sovereignty over Kuwait and Iranian territory along the Shatt al Arab, antagonising relations with neighbouring states. In 1962 Kurdish groups, led by Mustafa al-Barzani, revolted demanding an autonomous Kurdistan, eventually gaining control of much of northern Iraq. The Kassem regime was overthrown in 1963 in a revolt led by Colonel Abdul Salam Arif. The new regime was dominated by Ba'ath party members (a socialist group whose overall goal was Arab unity), despite President Arif himself claiming no links to the party. Indeed soon after the coup President Arif expelled all Ba'ath party members. Three years later Arif was killed in a helicopter crash and his brother, Gen. Abdul Rahman Arif, assumed office only to be overthrown two years later in a bloodless coup. The new regime, led by yet another military official, Major General Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, was once again dominated by the Ba'ath party. During the Arab-Israeli Six Day War in 1967, Iraq provided logistical support to the Arab cause, resulting in the severance of US-Iraqi relations. The following years were characterised by improved relations with the...
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