The territory of modern Iraq is roughly
equivalent to that of ancient Mesopotamia, which fostered a succession of early
civilizations. Of these, the earliest known was the civilization of Sumer, which
arose probably in the 4th millennium bc and had its final flowering under the
3rd Dynasty of Ur at the close of the 3rd millennium bc. Periods of control by
Babylonia and Assyria followed. In 539 bc Cyrus the Great of Persia gained
control of the region, which remained under Persian rule until the conquest by
Macedonian king Alexander the Great in 331 bc. After Alexander’s death the Greek
Seleucid dynasty reigned in Mesopotamia for some 200 years, infusing the region
with Hellenistic culture. A long period followed under new Persian dynasties (Arsacids,
Sassanids) until Arabs who were adherents of Islam overran the region in the 7th
The Arab-Islamic conquest of what is now Iraq started in 633 ad and culminated in 636 at the Battle of Qadisiyya, a village on the Euphrates south of Baghdād. At that battle an Islamic Arab army decisively defeated a Persian army that was six times larger. The Arab army moved quickly to Ctesiphon, the capital of the Sassanian Empire, where in 637 it seized a huge Persian treasure trove. Many tribes in the conquered land were Christian Arabs. Some of them converted to Islam, and the others were allowed to stay provided they paid a poll tax.
From the mid-8th century to 1258 Baghdād was the capital of the Abbasid caliphate, or Islamic realm. The Abbasid period was a golden age of Islamic power and culture. During that period Baghdād became the second largest city in the known world, after Constantinople, and the most important center of science and culture. For a time, the Abbasid realm was a mighty military power, its borders reaching southern France in the west and the borders of China in the east. In the mid-9th century the Abbasid caliphate began a slow decline. Turkic warrior slaves known as Mamluks became so prominent at the caliph’s court that they almost monopolized power. In 945 the Buwayhids, an Iranian Shia dynasty, conquered Baghdād. However, they allowed the Abbasid caliph to remain in office as a symbol of continuity and legitimacy. In 1055 the Seljuks, a Turkish Sunni clan, drove out the Buwayhids and reestablished Sunni rule in Baghdād. The Seljuks respected the Abbasid caliph but allowed him to be only a figurehead. At the end of the 11th century Seljuk power started to decline.
In 1258 Baghdad was conquered and sacked by Hulagu, grandson of the great Mongol conqueror Genghis Khan. Hulagu killed all the scholars in Baghdād and erected a pyramid from their skulls. He destroyed the elaborate irrigation system that the Abbasids had established. Iraq became a neglected frontier area ruled from the Mongol capital of Tabrīz in Iran. In 1335 the last great Mongol ruler of this region died, and anarchy prevailed. The Turkic conqueror Tamerlane sacked Baghdād in 1401, again massacring many of its inhabitants. He, too, built a pyramid of skulls. Tamerlane’s invasion and conquest marked the end of Baghdād’s greatness.
Ottoman Turkish and Iranian rulers vied for supremacy in Iraq until the Ottoman Empire finally secured control in the 17th century. The region was brought under Persian control in 1508. The Ottoman Turks conquered much of it in 1534. The Persians captured Baghdād and large parts of Iraq in 1623, holding them until 1638, when Iraq was again brought under Ottoman rule. For almost three centuries thereafter Iraq was part of the Ottoman Empire.
The history of modern Iraq begins with the
last phase of Ottoman rule, during the 19th century. Until the 1830s Ottoman
rule in Iraq was tenuous, and real power shifted between powerful tribal
chieftains and local Mamluk rulers. Many of the nomadic Arab tribes were never
fully brought under Ottoman control. Local Kurdish dynasties held sway over the
mountainous north. In the second half of the 18th century the Mamluks
established effective control over the territory from Al Başrah to north of
Baghdād. The Mamluks imposed central authority and introduced a functioning
government. In 1831 the province of Iraq, then subdivided into the three
vilayets, or administrative districts, of Mosul, Baghdād, and Al Başrah, came
under direct Ottoman administration. From 1831 to 1869 a series of governors
came and went in rapid succession.
From 1869 to 1872 Midhat Pasha, one of the Ottoman Empire’s ablest and most scrupulous officials, at long last imposed effective central control throughout the region. He modernized Baghdād, in everything from transportation to sanitation to education, and he imposed his rule on the tribal countryside. The Arabs began to experience the burdens of the new and more efficient methods of Ottoman administration, particularly with regard to tax collection. Local resentment of the centralized authority of the empire developed, giving rise to a strong spirit of Arab nationalism.
In the latter part of the 19th century Britain and Germany became rivals in the commercial development of the Mesopotamian area. The British first became interested in Iraq as a direct overland route to India. In 1861 they established a steamship company for the navigation of the Tigris to the port of Al Başrah. Meanwhile, Germany was planning the construction of a railroad in the Middle East—to run “from Berlin to Baghdād”—and, overcoming British opposition, obtained a concession from the Ottoman government to build a railroad from Baghdād to the Arab Gulf. Despite this defeat, the British government managed to consolidate its position in the Persian Gulf area by concluding treaties of protection with local Arab chieftains. British financiers were also successful in obtaining a concession in 1901 to exploit the oil fields of Iran. In 1909 the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (later the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company) was formed to develop this new industry.
In November 1914, after the Ottoman Empire entered World War I (1914-1918) as an ally of Germany and Austria-Hungary, a British army division landed at Al Fāw, near Iraq’s southern tip, and quickly occupied Al Başrah. The main reason for the landing was Britain’s need to defend the Anglo-Persian Oil Company’s oil fields and refineries nearby in Iran. The British army gradually pushed northward against heavy Ottoman opposition, entering Baghdād in March 1917. The British and the Ottoman Turks signed an armistice agreement in October 1918, but the British army continued to move north until it captured Mosul in early November. With the capture of Mosul, Britain exerted its control over nearly all of Iraq.
Early in the war, in order to ensure the
interest of the Arabs in a military uprising against the Ottoman Turks, the
British government promised a group of Arab leaders that their people would
receive independence if a revolt proved successful. In June 1916 an uprising
occurred in Al Ḩijāz (the Hejaz), led by Faisal al-Husein, later Faisal I, first
king of Iraq. Under the leadership of British general Edmund Allenby and the
tactical direction of British colonel T. E. Lawrence, the Arab and British
forces achieved dramatic successes against the Ottoman army and succeeded in
liberating much Arabian territory. After signing the armistice with the Ottoman
government in 1918, the British and French governments issued a joint
declaration stating their intention to assist in establishing independent Arab
nations in the Arab areas formerly controlled by the Ottoman Empire.
At the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, the Allies (the coalition of the victorious nations in World War I, including Britain and France) made Iraq (the territory encompassing the three former Ottoman vilayets of Mosul, Baghdād, and Al Başrah) a Class A mandate entrusted to Britain. Under the mandate system, a territory that had formerly been held by Germany or the Ottoman Empire was placed nominally under the supervision of the League of Nations, and the administration of the mandate was delegated to one of the victorious nations until the territory could govern itself. Class A mandates were expected to achieve independence in a few years. In April 1920 the Allied governments confirmed the creation of the British mandate in Iraq at a conference in San Remo, Italy. In July 1920, when the Iraqi Arabs learned of the decision, they began an armed uprising against the British, then still occupying Iraq. The British were forced to spend huge amounts of money to quell the revolt, and the government of Britain concluded that it would be expedient to terminate its mandate in Mesopotamia. The British civil commissioner, their top administrator in Iraq, thereupon drew up a plan for a provisional government of the new state of Iraq: It was to be a kingdom, with a government directed by a council of Arab ministers under the supervision of a British high commissioner. Faisal was invited to become the ruler of the new state. In August 1921 a plebiscite elected Faisal king of Iraq; he won 96 percent of the votes cast in the election.
The new king had to build a local power base in Iraq. He accomplished this task primarily by winning the support of Iraqi-born military officers who had served in the Ottoman army and of Arab business and religious leaders in Baghdād, Al Başrah, and Mosul. The lower classes had no say in the affairs of the state. They included poor peasants and, in the towns, a growing layer of Western-educated young men who were economically vulnerable and depended on the government for jobs. This latter group, known as the efendiyya, grew more and more restive. Both the ruling elite and the efendiyya embraced the ideas of the pan-Arab movement, which sought to join all the Arab lands into one powerful state. Pan-Arabism was seen as a way of uniting most of the diverse Iraqi population through a common Arab identity. The elite advocated achieving pan-Arabism through diplomacy with British consent, while the efendiyya developed a revolutionary and radically anti-British ideology.
The integrity of the newly established state
was challenged by various groups with separatist aspirations, These groups
acted in conjunction with Turkish armed forces endeavoring to reclaim the lands
in the Mosul area for Turkey. The British were thus forced to maintain an army
in Iraq, and agitation against the British mandate continued. King Faisal I
formally requested that the mandate under which Iraq was held be transformed
into a treaty of alliance between the two nations. Although Britain did not end
the mandate, in June 1922 a 20-year treaty of alliance and protection between
Britain and Iraq was signed. The treaty required that the king heed British
advice on all matters affecting British interests and that British officials
serve in specific Iraqi government posts. In return, Britain provided military
assistance and other aid to Iraq. The British also created an Iraqi national
army, which became an indispensable tool of domestic control in the hands of the
In the spring of 1924 a constituent assembly was convened. It passed an organic law establishing the permanent form of the government of Iraq. The king was given great, but not absolute, power. He could dismiss parliament, call for new elections, and appoint the prime minister. Elections for the first Iraqi parliament were held in March 1925. In the same year a concession was granted to an internationally owned oil company to develop the oil reserves of the Baghdād and Mosul regions. In 1927 Faisal I requested that the British support Iraq’s application for admission to the League of Nations. The British refused to take such action at that time, but in June 1930 a new treaty of alliance between Britain and Iraq included a recommendation by Britain that Iraq be admitted to the League of Nations as a free and independent state in 1932. The recommendation was made that year, and the British mandate was formally terminated. In October 1932 Iraq joined the League of Nations as an independent sovereign state. Faisal I died in 1933 and was succeeded by his son, Ghazi, a pan-Arab and anti-British figure.
In 1931 the exploitation of the oil reserves
in Iraq was further advanced by an agreement signed by the Iraqi government and
the Iraq Petroleum Company, an internationally owned organization composed of
Royal-Dutch Shell, the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, French oil companies, and the
Standard Oil companies of New York and New Jersey. The agreement granted the
Iraq Petroleum Company the sole right to develop the oil fields of the Mosul
region, in return for which the company guaranteed to pay the Iraqi government
annual royalties. In 1934 the company opened an oil pipeline from Mosul to
Tripoli, Lebanon, and a second one to Haifa, in what is now Israel, was
completed in 1936.
In 1936 Iraq, under King Ghazi, moved toward a pan-Arab alliance with the other nations of the Arab world. A treaty of nonaggression, reaffirming a fundamental Arab kinship, was signed with the king of Saudi Arabia in the same year.
Iraq experienced its first military coup
d’état in 1936, when the army overthrew the pan-Arab government. The coup opened
the door to future military involvement in Iraqi politics. The moderate
coalition government they put in power was accepted by the king and remained in
office until 1939. In April 1939 King Ghazi was killed in an automobile
accident, leaving his three-year-old son, Faisal II, the titular king under a
In accordance with its treaty of alliance
with Britain, Iraq broke off diplomatic relations with Germany early in
September 1939, at the start of World War II (1939-1945). During the first few
months of the war Iraq had a pro-British government under General Nuri as-Said
as prime minister. In March 1940, however, Said was replaced by Rashid Ali al-Gailani,
a nationalist, who embarked at once on a policy of noncooperation with the
British. The British pressured the Iraqis to cooperate with them. This pressure
precipitated a military revolt on April 30, 1941, and a new pro-German
government headed by Gailani was formed. Alarmed at this development, the
British landed troops at Al Başrah. Declaring this action a violation of the
treaty between Britain and Iraq, Gailani mobilized the Iraqi army, and war
between the two countries began in May. Later that month the government of Iraq
conceded defeat. The armistice terms provided for the reestablishment of British
control over Iraq’s transport, a provision of the 1930 treaty of alliance.
Shortly afterward, a pro-British government headed by Said was formed.
In 1942 Iraq became an important supply center for British and United States forces operating in the Middle East and for the transshipment of arms to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). On January 17, 1943, Iraq declared war on Germany, the first independent Islamic state to do so. Meanwhile, Iraq’s continuing assistance to the Allied war effort made possible a stronger stand by Arab leaders on behalf of a federation of Arab states. After the war ended, Iraq joined with other Arab states in forming the Arab League, a regional association of sovereign states.
Throughout 1945 and 1946 the Kurdish tribes
of northeastern Iraq were in a state of unrest—supported, it was believed, by
the USSR. The British, fearing Soviet encroachment on the Iraqi oil fields,
moved troops into Iraq. In 1947 Said began to advocate a new proposal for a
federated Arab state. This time he suggested that Transjordan (present-day
Jordan) and Iraq be united, and he began negotiations with the king of
Transjordan regarding the effectuation of his proposal. In April 1947 a treaty
of kinship and alliance was signed by the two kingdoms, providing for mutual
military and diplomatic aid.
Immediately following the declaration of independence by Israel in May 1948, the armies of Iraq and Transjordan invaded the new state. Throughout the rest of the year Iraqi armed forces continued to fight the Israelis, and the nation continued to work politically with the kingdom of Transjordan. In September Iraq joined Abdullah ibn Hussein, king of Transjordan, in denouncing the establishment of an Arab government in Palestine as being “tantamount to recognizing the partition of Palestine” into Jewish and Arab states, which Iraq had consistently opposed. With the general defeat of the Arab forces attacking Israel, however, the government of Iraq prepared to negotiate an armistice, represented by Transjordan. On May 11, 1949, a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Transjordan was signed, but Iraqi units continued to fight Israelis in an Arab-occupied area in north-central Palestine. Transjordanian troops replaced the Iraqi units in this area under the terms of the armistice agreement, signed on April 3, 1949.
Royalties paid to the government of Iraq by
the Iraq Petroleum Company increased substantially under accords reached in 1950
and 1951. By the terms of an even more advantageous arrangement, concluded in
February 1952, Iraq obtained 50 percent of the profits. In 1953 the 911-km
(566-mi) Kirkūk-Bāniyās (Syria) pipeline of the Iraq Petroleum Company was
The first parliamentary elections based on direct suffrage took place on January 17, 1953. A pro-Western, pan-Arab government was formed. King Faisal II formally assumed the throne on May 2, 1953, his 18th birthday.
In February 1955 Iraq concluded the Baghdād Pact, a mutual-security treaty with Turkey. Advancing plans to transform the alliance into a Middle Eastern defense system, the two countries urged the other Arab states, the United States, Britain, and Pakistan to adhere to the pact. Britain joined the alliance in April; Pakistan became a signatory in September and Iran in November. That month the five nations established the Middle East Treaty Organization (METO).
In July 1956 Jordan (as Transjordan had been renamed) accused Israel of deploying an invasion army near Jerusalem, whereupon Iraq moved forces to the Jordanian border. That same month, in response to Egypt’s nationalization of the Suez Canal, which Britain and France had controlled, the Iraqi government expressed unequivocal support of Egypt. In the ensuing Suez Crisis, Egypt was invaded by Israel, Britain, and France in October 1956. Within a week, however, the United Nations, at the urging of both the USSR and the United States, demanded a ceasefire, forcing Britain, France, and Israel to withdraw from the lands they had captured. In early November, Iraqi and Syrian troops occupied positions in Jordan in accordance with terms of a mutual-defense agreement.
In January 1957 Iraq endorsed the recently
promulgated Eisenhower Doctrine. This doctrine stated that the United States
would supply military assistance to any Middle Eastern government whose
stability was threatened by Communist aggression.
In February 1958, following a conference between Faisal II and Hussein I, king of Jordan, Iraq and Jordan were federated. The new union, later named the Arab Union of Jordan and Iraq, was established as a countermeasure to the United Arab Republic (UAR), a federation of Egypt and Syria formed in February of that year. The constitution of the newly formed federation was proclaimed simultaneously in Baghdād and Amman on March 19, and the document was ratified by the Iraqi parliament on May 12. Later that month Nuri as-Said, former prime minister of Iraq, was named premier of the Arab Union.
The UAR, bitterly antagonistic to the
pro-Western Arab Union, issued repeated radio calls urging the people, police,
and army of Iraq to overthrow their government. On July 14, 1958, in a sudden
coup d’état led by the Iraqi general Abdul Karim Kassem, the country was
proclaimed a republic. King Faisal II, the crown prince, and Said were among
those killed in the uprising. On July 15 the new government announced the
establishment of close relations with the UAR and the dissolution of the Arab
Union. However, Kassem made attempts to gain the confidence of the West by
maintaining the flow of oil.
In March 1959 Iraq withdrew from the Baghdād Pact, which was then renamed the Central Treaty Organization; in June 1959 Iraq withdrew from the sterling bloc (a group of countries whose currencies are tied to the British pound sterling).
Following the termination of the British protectorate over the emirate of Kuwait in June 1960, Iraq claimed the area, asserting that Kuwait had been part of the Iraqi state at the time of its formation. British forces entered Kuwait in July at the invitation of the Kuwaiti ruler, and the UN Security Council declined an Iraqi request to order their withdrawal.
Meanwhile, on the domestic front, the Iraqi government claimed in 1961 and 1962 that it had suppressed Kurdish revolts in northern Iraq. The Kurdish unrest persisted, however. The long conflict was temporarily settled in early 1970, when the government agreed to form a Kurdish autonomous region, and Kurdish ministers were added to the cabinet.
On February 8, 1963, Kassem was overthrown by
a group of officers, most of them members of the Baath Party; he was executed
the following day. Abdul Salam Arif became president, and relations with the
Western world improved. In April 1966 Arif was killed in a helicopter crash and
was succeeded by his brother, General Abdul Rahman Arif.
During the Arab-Israeli Six-Day War (1967), Iraqi troops and planes were sent to the Jordan-Israeli border. Iraq subsequently declared war on Israel and closed its oil pipeline supplying the Western nations, which it accused of siding with Israel. At the same time diplomatic relations with the United States were severed. In July 1968 Baath Party officers overthrew General Arif’s government. Major General Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, a former prime minister, was appointed head the newly established Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), the country’s supreme executive, legislative, and judicial body.
In the following years Iraq maintained general hostility toward the West and friendship with the USSR. The positions of individual Arab countries with regard to Israel caused some friction between Iraq and its neighbors. In 1971 Iraq closed its border with Jordan and called for its expulsion from the Arab League because of Jordan’s efforts to crush the Palestinian guerrilla movement operating inside its borders.
From 1972 to 1975 Iraq fully nationalized the foreign oil companies operating in Iraq. The country enjoyed a massive increase in oil revenues starting in late 1973 when international petroleum prices began a steep rise. The discovery of major oil deposits in the vicinity of Baghdād was announced publicly in 1975.
Iraq aided Syria with troops and matériel during the Arab-Israeli War of 1973. Calling for continued military action against Israel, Iraq denounced the ceasefire that ended the 1973 conflict and opposed the interim agreements negotiated by Egypt and Syria with Israel in 1974 and 1975.
In early 1974 heavy fighting erupted in
northern Iraq between government forces and Kurdish nationalists, who rejected
as inadequate a new Kurdish autonomy law based on the 1970 agreement. The Kurds,
led by Mustafa al-Barzani, received arms and other supplies from Iran. After
Iraq agreed in early 1975 to make major concessions to Iran in settling their
border disputes, Iran halted aid to the Kurds, and the revolt was dealt a severe
blow. In July 1979 President Bakr was succeeded by General Saddam Hussein, a
fellow member of the Arab Baath Socialist Party.
In 1979 Islamic revolutionaries in Iran succeeded in overthrowing the country’s secular government and established an Islamic republic there. Tension between the Iraqi government and Iran’s new Islamic regime increased during that year, when unrest among Iranian Kurds spilled over into Iraq. In September 1980 Iraq declared its 1975 agreement with Iran, which drew the border between the countries down the middle of the Shatt al Arab, null and void and claimed authority over the entire river. The quarrel flared into a full-scale war, the Iran-Iraq War. Iraq quickly overran a large part of the Arab-populated province of Khūzestān (Khuzistan) in Iran and destroyed the Ābādān refinery. In June 1981 a surprise air attack by Israel destroyed a nuclear reactor near Baghdād. The Israelis charged that the reactor was intended to develop nuclear weapons for use against them. In early 1982 Iran launched a counteroffensive, and by May it had reclaimed much of the territory conquered by Iraq in 1980. In the ensuing stalemate, each side inflicted heavy damage on the other and on Persian Gulf shipping. After a ceasefire with Iran came into effect in August 1988, the Iraqi government again moved to suppress the Kurdish insurgency. During the late 1980s the nation rebuilt its military machine, in part through bank credits and technology obtained from Western Europe and the United States.
In 1990 Iraq revived a long-standing
territorial dispute with Kuwait, its ally during the war with Iran, claiming
that overproduction of petroleum by Kuwait was injuring Iraq’s economy by
depressing the price of crude oil. Iraqi troops retook Kuwait on August 2 and
rapidly took over the country. The UN Security Council issued a series of
resolutions that condemned the occupation, imposed a broad trade embargo on
Iraq, and demanded that Iraq withdraw unconditionally by January 15, 1991.
When Iraq failed to comply, a coalition led by the United States began intensive aerial bombardment of military and infrastructural targets in Iraq and Kuwait in January 1991. The ensuing Persian Gulf War proved disastrous for Iraq, which was forced out of Kuwait in about six weeks. Coalition forces invaded southern Iraq, and tens of thousands of Iraqis were killed. Many of the country’s armored vehicles and artillery pieces were destroyed, and its nuclear and chemical weapons facilities were severely damaged. In April, Iraq agreed to UN terms for a permanent ceasefire; coalition troops withdrew from southern Iraq as a UN peacekeeping force moved in to police the Iraq-Kuwait border.
The UN trade embargo remained in place after the war. The Security Council laid out strict demands on Iraq for lifting the sanctions, including destruction of its chemical and biological weapons, cessation of nuclear weapons programs, and acceptance of international inspections to ensure that these conditions were met. Iraq resisted these demands, claiming that its withdrawal from Kuwait was sufficient compliance. UN weapons inspectors entered Iraq in mid-1991 and began destroying chemical and biological weapons and production facilities in mid-1992.
In June 1993 the United States launched a widely criticized cruise missile attack against Iraq in retaliation for a reported assassination plot against former U.S. president George Bush. In November 1994 Hussein signed a decree formally accepting Kuwait’s sovereignty, political independence, and territorial integrity. The decree effectively ended Iraq’s claim to Kuwait as a province of Iraq.
Beginning in the late 1990s Iraq increasingly
faced the possibility of another military crisis. Iraq’s interference with UN
weapons inspectors almost led to punitive U.S. air strikes against Iraq in early
1998, a step that was averted by a last-minute compromise brokered by UN
secretary general Kofi Annan. In December of that year, in response to reports
that Iraq was continuing to block inspections, the United States and Britain
launched a four-day series of air strikes on Iraqi military and industrial
targets. In response, Iraq declared that it would no longer comply with UN
inspection teams. In the following years, British and U.S. planes periodically
struck Iraqi missile launch sites and other targets.
Despite interference by Iraqi authorities, UN weapons inspectors succeeded in destroying thousands of chemical weapons, hundreds of missiles, and numerous weapon production facilities before leaving Iraq in late 1998. But inspectors believed that Hussein still possessed many more chemical weapons, and expressed concerns that Iraq had inadequately reported the scale of its biological weapons program and stockpile.
In 2002 U.S. president George W. Bush insisted that Iraq prove that it had disarmed as required under the terms that ended the Persian Gulf War. In November 2002, after months of heightened pressure from the United States and the UN, Iraq accepted a UN resolution ordering the immediate return of weapons inspectors to Iraq. In early 2003 the Bush administration argued that Iraq was violating the UN resolution by not complying fully with the inspectors and continuing to hide banned chemical and biological weapons. The United States, with the support of Britain and several other nations, built up a military force in the Persian Gulf in preparation for a possible war against Iraq. Many countries, including France, Germany, and Russia, opposed military action, arguing that diplomacy and inspections should be given more time to work. After the UN Security Council failed to reach consensus regarding military action against Iraq, U.S.-led forces invaded Iraq in March 2003 with the goals of removing Hussein from power and destroying the country’s banned weapons. By mid-April U.S.-led forces had swept across southern Iraq and Kurdish forces, with the help of the U.S. military, had captured the major cities of the north. Baghdād fell to U.S. forces, effectively ending the regime of Saddam Hussein, whose whereabouts were unknown. The United States and its allies then began the process of rebuilding the country and establishing an interim Iraqi government.