-once part of the Ottoman Empire
-once a colony of England (post WWI)
-Saddam Hussein was their dictator leader during the 1980s and 90s
-Iraq invaded Kuwait sparking the first Gulf War
-Iraqi government is sanctioned (isolated from doing trade to a large degree)
-fear (supposed) of WMDs (weapons of mass destruction) caused a second war and subsequent occupation of Iraq by America
-American troops have been occupying Iraq now for a longer period of time that all of WWII and the occupation of Europe thereafter

-Iraq now has a federal form of government because it is a multinational state facing devolutionary forces which threaten to tear it apart (centrifugal)

Demographics of Iraq

An April 2009 estimate of the total Iraqi population is 31,234,000.

Around 75%-80% of Iraq's population is Arab; the other major ethnic groups are the Kurds at 15%-20%, who mostly live in the north and northeast of the country.

* Islam, 97%; Christianity or other, 3%.

Estimate of the Muslim proportions of the population are:
* Shia 60%-65%, Sunni 32%-37% (source: CIA World Fact Book).

Linguistically, the adherents of Shia Islam in Iraq predominantly speak Arabic and a bilingual minority speak Persian, while the Iraqi Turkmen speak South Azeri and the Feyli Kurds speak Feyli, a dialect of Kurdish, almost all belong to the Twelver school. Adherents of Sunni Islam include Arabic speakers, Iraqi Turkmen (who are mostly Hanafi school), and Kurds (who are Shafi school).

Arabic and Kurdish are official languages. English is the most commonly spoken European language.

Iraqi Refugees who Fled During the War and Sanctions:
In November 2006, the UNHCR estimated that 1.8 million Iraqis had been displaced to neighboring countries, with nearly 100,000 Iraqis fleeing to Syria and Jordan each month, while another 1.6 million were displaced internally.100 A May 2007 article noted that in the previous seven months, only 69 people from Iraq had been granted refugee status in the United States.

At least three-quarters of the Iraqi people are members of one of the country's 150 tribes. Iraq's society is very feudalistic, with most of the population identifying him/herself with one tribe. Tribes have become an increasingly important part of Iraqi society. Even those Iraqi citizens without a tribal background often turn to neighborhood shaykhs for representation or assistance with the government.

Tribal Culture and Women
The tribal society brings along some other consequences: individuals are protected, yet at the same time limited by the tribe. This fact is very visible for women and children. Women belong to the family and do not have much right to choose about their own future. Deciding whether to work or not, choosing a profession, choosing their spouses is not in their hands. What is decisive is the family's approval. If one defects from the existing social structure, it means that one is immoral. Since immorality would ruin the honour of the family, the respective family member should be punished. In Sulaymaniyah one woman's nose was cut in order to set an example. She was accused of having an immoral relationship which, however, was not proven. After 1990 there were quite a high number of honour crimes in Iraq, which according to Iraqi law were not punishable. If a woman transgressed a social norm, e.g. by being with a man without marriage or eloping from her husband without permission of the family, the tribal law prescribes capital punishment for this behaviour. This punishment is tolerable according to the Iraqi criminal code. It should give the families the right to instruct their children ethically with the methods they choose, be it punishment at home, be it not letting their children attend a specific school. The result is a circle of social relations at home, with the brothers having superiority to the sisters and the father having superiority to the rest of the family.

The Rest of the Middle East
-Iran is Shia and favors the Shia of Iraq often giving them weapons and support
-Saudi Arabia and other neighbors are Sunni and give them support
-Turkey is worried about the Kurds in Iraq. They think that if they get too much power they will support the Kurds in Turkey with weapons and supplies and try to form an independent state taking part of Turkey and Iraq (Kurds are a stateless nation)