For 24 years most of the world largely associated Iraq with the dictator Saddam Hussein. Saddam’s rule and the resulting world-wide opposition to him resulted in much suffering for the people of Iraq. Territorial disputes with Iran led to an inconclusive and costly eight-year war). In August 1990 Iraq seized Kuwait, but was expelled by US-led, UN coalition forces during January-February 1991.
Many people have been impressed with the dignity of the Iraqi people who have risen to rebuild much of the damage that has occurred in their country. The Iraqis have shown themselves to be courageous and ingenious in their coping.
Oil in Iraq
The oil boom of the 1970s brought increased wealth Iraq and to Baghdad (capital and largest city of Iraq, pop. 5 million). Baghdad began to develop on a much more impressive scale, with the construction of middle-class residential areas. A network of super-highways was constructed, as well as a new airport. Date palms and olive trees are everywhere adding to the city’s beauty. All such improvements, however, were brought to an abrupt halt by the wars of the 1980s, 90s and 2000s.
Many of the shops are full of goods, however they are without customers as few can afford to buy the necessities of life let alone the luxury merchandise on display. In the warm evenings throngs of people walk the streets looking into the stores as a leisure activity.
The People of Iraq
Iraq’s population represents a wide spectrum of religious and ethnic groupings. Most Iraqis are Arabs and live along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, or on the fertile plain between the rivers. Bedouins roam vast deserts in the west and south. Kurds (20%) make up the second largest population group, and live mostly in the mountains along the Northeast border of the country. The Muslims comprising 95% of the population are divided into two branches: the Shiite Muslim (60%) which is controlled politically by the minority Sunni group (30%).
The approximately 3% Christians in Iraq also represent a wide range of denominations including the Ancient Chaldean church, the Assyrian and Syrian Orthodox Churches. The National Evangelical church is about 2.5% of the Christian population. There is a spiritual hunger, and there have been opportunities to distribute Christian books into the churches. The Holy Spirit is at work among Christian groups that are growing in faith. God is adding to their numbers.
Prayer for the Muslims of Iraq:
* For revival to come among the ancient Eastern Churches, many of which have their roots in the early Church (God has not forgotten His people!).
* For men and women of faith to strengthen the suffering church of Iraq.
* For necessary goods (food and medicine) to become available. May the economic and employment situation improve.
* For freedom from fear and healing of wounds that only God can help with.
Background on Iraq (World Factbook)
Formerly part of the Ottoman Empire, Iraq was occupied by Britain during the course of World War I; in 1920, it was declared a League of Nations mandate under UK administration. In stages over the next dozen years, Iraq attained its independence as a kingdom in 1932. A “republic” was proclaimed in 1958, but in actuality a series of military strongmen ruled the country, the latest was SADDAM Husayn.
Territorial disputes with Iran led to an inconclusive and costly eight-year war). In August 1990, Iraq seized Kuwait, but was expelled by US-led, UN coalition forces during the Gulf War of January-February 1991. Following Kuwait’s liberation, the UN Security Council (UNSC) required Iraq to scrap all weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles and to allow UN verification inspections. Continued Iraqi noncompliance with UNSC resolutions over a period of 12 years led to the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and the ouster of the SADDAM Husayn regime.
Elections for a 275-member Transitional National Assembly (TNA) were held in Iraq on 30 January 2005. Following these elections, the Iraqi Transitional Government (ITG) assumed office. The TNA was charged with drafting Iraq’s permanent constitution, which was approved in a 15 October 2005 constitutional referendum. An election under the constitution for a 275-member Council of Representatives (CoR) was held in December 2005. The CoR approval in the selection of most of the cabinet ministers on 20 May 2006 marked the transition from the ITG to Iraq’s full-term government. Iraq held a national legislative election in March 2010, and after nine months of deadlock the CoR approved the new government in December 2010. US military operations ended in mid-December 2011.
Economy of Iraq
Iraq’s economy is dominated by the oil sector, which has traditionally provided about 95% of foreign exchange earnings. Despite political uncertainty, Iraq is making some progress in building the institutions needed to implement economic policy and has negotiated a debt reduction agreement with the Paris Club and a Standby Arrangement with the IMF. Additionally, the Iraqi government is seeking to pass laws to strengthen the economy; this legislation includes a hydrocarbon law to encourage contracting with foreign investors and a revenue sharing law to equitably divide oil revenues within the nation. Controlling inflation, reducing corruption, and implementing structural reforms such as bank restructuring and developing the private sector, will be key to Iraq’s economic prospects.
Statistics on Iraq
Population: 31,129,225 (July 2012 est.) World rank #39
Life Expectancy at Birth: 70.85 years. World rank #145
Ethnic groups: Arab 75%-80%, Kurdish 15%-20%, Turkoman, Assyrian or other 5%
Religions: Muslim 97% (Shi’a 60%-65%, Sunni 32%-37%), Christian or other 3%
note: while there has been voluntary relocation of many Christian families to northern Iraq, recent reporting indicates that the overall Christian population may have dropped by as much as 50 percent since the fall of the Saddam HUSSEIN regime in 2003, with many fleeing to Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon
Languages: Arabic, Kurdish (official in Kurdish regions), Assyrian, Armenian
Literacy: 78.2% — Male: 86%, Female: 70.6%
School life expectancy: 10 years
Iraqi Christians – Video
“This video is a tribute to the Christians that live in Iraq.” Explains some history and facts about Christians living in a mostly Muslim country.