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Map Source Google New World Encyclopedia

Iraq’s history goes way back to the dawn of human civilisation with its early history being recorded in the Bible. Wars and fighting with nieghbouring countries seems to have been way of life for its people, who were under the continual   rule by others for several hundred years.

During the 12th Century and after a couple of failed earlier attempts Baghdad the countries capital city fell to the marauding Mongol tribesmen from the east.  When Hulegu, grandson of Genghis Khan led a victorious invasion, after a series of devastating floods had weakened the city's mud wall defenses. This allowed the Mongols to eventually enter the city triumphantly.  However, in the aftermath the city was ransacked and totally destroyed. Many of its citizens were massacred or deserted the city to escape persecution. As a result the economy was totally destroyed and did not recover for many centuries to come.

Some historians have agreed that amongst the Mongol Army that conquered half the eastern side of the globe were other lesser known tribes, who had either joined by choice or had been forced into fighting for Genghis Khan.  By definition they could be classed as Mercenaries, although I doubt they fought for money, it being more a case of being part of a successfully fighting army and being fed for their loyalty. Better than being killed for not joining.

During the early 1400’s Iraq was invaded by neighbouring Turkey who’s Army took control of the country for almost 100 years. Then in 1508 it was Iran’s, turn as they pushed the Turks out and ruled the country for a few years.

In 1533 Iraq was conquered by the Otterman Empire who set about trying to rebuild the country’s economy. Their rule lasted right up to the start of the 17th century when the British, Dutch and Portuguese all arrived in the country trying to  build up trade with the area by pushing the Ottoman rulers out.

By 1638 the Ottoman Empire had returned once again.

In 1914 during the World War One, British forces invaded southern Iraq, and on March 11th 1917 British troops occupied the capital Baghdad.

1920 saw the British create the state of Iraq with the newly formed League of Nations full approval. However, during that same year the Iraqi people rebelled against the British rule.

On the 16th December 1925 the League of Nations re-drew a new border between the countries of Turkey and Iraq, placing the Mosul region in Iraq rather than Turkey, despite the wishes of the local Kurdish population in the North.

On the 3rd October 1932 Iraq was created as an independent state under the control of the monarchy and King Faisal 1st. One of the conditions for their independence from the British was that Iraq had to allow an R.A.F. presence in the country, and that they coordinated their foreign policy with the British government for the following 25 years. While at the same time Iraq was also admitted to the League of Nations.

8th September 1933 King Faysal Ist died. He was succeeded by his son Ghazi, however many Iraqi people  were not happy with the decision wanting  General Bakr Sidqi to run the country as their leader, which lead to the country experiencing a lot of unrest for a couple of years.

Then during October 1936 General Bakr Sidqi launched a violent but successful military coup taking over the country.

However on the 1th August 1937 General Bakr Sidqi was assassinated in Mosul.

December 1938 another coup was launched in the country to fill the void left after the death of general Bakr Sidgi, by a group known as "The Seven." After their success they proclaimed Nuri al-Sa'id as the new Prime Minister. However, by the following year (1939),  Prime Minister Nuri al-Sa'id was forced out of office by the original ‘Seven’ coup leaders, not approving of his rule.

On the 1st April 1941 "The Seven" announced another coup appointing Rashid 'Ali al-Kaylani as head of the government and immediately declared that he intended to abide by the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty which set the conditions for Iraq's independence. However, it was not long before the "The Seven" broke the treaty when they refused to allow passage of British troops through Iraqi territory and the government began to express support towards Germany.

2nd May 1941 saw British troops invaded the country, while Germany refused to help Iraq, not wanting to become involved. After a 4 week war with Iraq the British once again took full control of the country, while its leader Ali al-Kaylani fled the country. The British then insisted that a Pro-British government be formed.

In 1943 and after a bitter disagreement with Britain, Iraq was finally forced to declare war against the Axis powers headed by Germany.

1945-46 unrest against the British was being stirred up amongst the Northern Kurd tribesmen being organised and fully supported by the Soviet Union.

During February 1946 Oil  was discovered in the Burgan fields of Kuwait, and was later extracted by the US & UK owned Gulf Oil Corporation by late1946. Kuwait had always been considered to be a part of Iraq that had been taken away from them during a time when new border lines were drawn up.

In 1947 Iraq signed a treaty with Jordan on mutual military and diplomatic aid between their countries. Then in 1948 After Israel declared its independence Iraq finally joined the other Arab states in the area in their attacks on the newly formed country.

On 2nd March 1953 King Feisal II became king of Iraq with the full backing of the British government.

24th February 1955 Iraq, Turkey, Britain, Pakistan, and Iran all signed a treaty pledging economic and military cooperation. This agreement was technically called the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO), but became more popularly known as the "Baghdad Pact" that caused a lot of strife in the Middle East as many nations viewed it as a thinly veiled attempt to split the Arab nations apart. However, it was in fact part of the efforts of the United States to create a string of treaties around the world similar to N.A.T.O. and designed for the purpose of containing communist expansion from the Soviet Union and China. This treaty was open to any nation to join except Israel.  

March 1955 Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Syria signed an alliance between them as a counter move.

1st December 1956 King Faisal II declared martial law and suspended the parliament.

14th July 1958 King Faisal II was himself overthrown by a coup led by General Abd-al-Karim Qassim and Colonel Abd-al-Salam Muhammad Arif. The coup leaders declared Iraq a republic and Qassim named himself as the new Prime Minister of the country. King Faysal II and his uncle the crown Prince were shot. While Nuri As-Said the countries old Prime Minister was lynched.

It’s worth noting that General Abd-al-Karim Qassim’s name can be translated from Arabic in a number of ways, e.g. Abdel Karim Kassem, Abdul Karim Kassem, Abdulkarim Kasem, Abdel-Karim Qaasim, `Abdul Karim Qasem, Qassem. During his rule, he was popularly known throughout the world as al-za‘īm (الزعيم) or, "The Leader". For the benefit of this article he will be referred to as General Kassem.

7th October 1959 The Ba'athist party rebels attempted a coup but they failed. However, General Kassem was injured and the driver of his car was killed. Later 78 Ba'athists members were place on trial for their parts in the plot, but one of the leaders Saddam Hussein escaped over the border to Syria.

19th June 1961 Kuwait (a British protectorate since 1899) declared its independence from Britain with their cooperation. This upset Iraq who had long believed and had hoped that Kuwait would one day become part of their country.

26th June 1961 General Kassim of Iraq claimed sovereignty over Kuwait.

31st June 1961 British troops are flown to Kuwait to forestall an invasion attempt, while off shore they position a Commando carrier with a selection of support ships. This move seemed to have called his bluff and for the time being Iraq backed down on its threat.

8th February 1963 the Arab Socialist Baath Party (ASBP), led by Abd-al-Salam Muhammad Arif, launched a successful coup taking over the country. Abd-al-Salam Muhammad Arif was a colonel who originally overthrew the Iraqi monarchy with General Kassem back in 1958 and installed himself as President of the new government. However, the Iraqi Premier Abdel Karem Qassim was executed by firing squad.

17th July 1968 once again a coup against the Iraqi government was launched, this time ousting Abd-al-Rahman Muhamad Arif. General Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr became president while Saddam Hussein was named as vice president.

1972 Iraq nationalised the Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC).

16th July 1979 President Ahmad Hasan Bakr was replaced by Saddam Hussein as President of Iraq. Bakr's health was given as the reason for his stepping down however,  he was placed under house arrest. Ex President Bakr lived until 1982 but it’s suspected that he was eventually poisoned. Later about 400 members of the ruling Baath Party are said to have also been executed, on the command of the new President Saddam Hussein. His rule of terror had begun. If you eliminate everybody who might be a threat to your leadership, then you can maintain your position for life, and this was a plan Hussein was putting into place. Something several other world leaders have done successfully over the years.

22nd September 1980 a war between Iran and Iraq began when Iranian and Iraqi air and naval forces clashed over disputed territory escalated. The war was to go on for more than 8 years with horrific loss of life on both sides.

1981 and the Israelis bombed a nuclear reactor plant just outside Baghdad.

26th November 1983 President Ronald Reagan signed a secret order instructing the American government to do "whatever was necessary and legal" to ensure that Iraq was not defeated in its war with Iran. At this time its claimed that the administration knew full well that Iraq was in possession of so called "Weapons of Mass Destruction" and it was using chemical weapons almost daily against Iran. In December, Donald Rumsfeld was sent by Reagan to Iraq to meet with Saddam Hussein and offer whatever assistance might be required.

20th August 1988 Iraq sign’s a cease fire with Iran. Iraq goes on to rebuild its military power, with bank credits and technology from Western Europe and USA. While at the same time Saddam Hassein takes brutal action against the Kurdish tribesmen in the north of Iraq, using  poisonous gas to kill thousands of civilians.

2nd August 1990 Iraq invaded Kuwait for its oil riches, wanting to include the country as part of Iraq. The United Nations Security Council passes Resolution 660 condemning the invasion and called for a full withdrawal of Iraq from Kuwait, but Saddam Hussein ignored it.

Over the years there have been reports that two weeks before the invasion Hussein called in the American Ambassador and told him that he was about to invade Kuwait and take it back. Its reported that the Ambassador told him that America would not intervene.

5th August 1990 President Bush Sr declared the invasion of Kuwait would not stand.

6th August 1990 King Fahd of Saudi Arabia met with Richard Cheney requesting assistance from America, worried that Saudi Arabia would be Saddam Hussein's next acquisition.

8th August 1990 Iraq formally annexed Kuwait.

November 1990 The United Nations authorised the use of force to remove Iraq from Kuwait.

17th January 1991 The Allied attack began with an Apache strike. The Gulf war began when Operation Desert Storm was launched by a U.S. led coalition of 32 countries under the leadership of American Norman Schwarzkopf with a campaign of Air strikes. Their orders being to drive Iraqi forces out of Kuwait and prevent it from launching similar wars of aggression in the future. Although it has to be noted that long before the war started Australian S.A.S. service personnel had been successfully operating behind the Iraqi lines sending back military information.

A short battle then took place as the coalition forces advanced at break neck speed across the desert, using speed as a means of scaring and defeating the enemy. A ploy that worked as they gained enemy held land at an alarming rate. At one time most of the forward line troops were moving so fast that they were running out of supplies.

27th January 1991 the Coalition forces enter Kuwait City.

28th January 1991 Iraqi forces fleeing Kuwait were caught along the Basra road. Thousands of Iraqi tanks, vehicles, and guns were destroyed, along with the deaths of thousands of Iraqi soldiers. Now the main highway was open for the Coalition forces to advance all the way to the capital Bagdad. However, by the end of the day hostilities had ended, as President George H. W. Bush Sr called a halt to the chasing of the enemy. This decision would come back to haunt him and America a few years later.

30th March 1991 the government of Iraq officially accepted the terms of the cease fire agreement after its army was driven out of Kuwait.

6th April 1991 Saddam Hussein accepted United Nations resolution agreeing to destroy weapons of mass destruction and to the allowing of United Nations inspectors to monitor the disarmament. A formal cease fire was signed. Then on the 10th April a no fly zone was established in Northern Iraq to protect the Kurdish people from Saddam Hussein reprisal attacks, as they had sided with and helped the Americans during the short war.

May 1991 Iraq was presented with an international claim for compensation of between US$50 and 100 billion.

30th July 1991 the United Nations weapons inspectors report that Iraq has concealed much of its nuclear and chemical weapons programs. It is the first of many such reports over the next decade, pointing out Iraq's thwarting of the United Nations weapons inspectors.

10th October 1994 a build up of Iraqi forces on the Kuwait border prompts an immediate built up of American forces and Suddam Hussein gets the message and backs down.

11th September 2001 following the terror attacks on World Trade Towers in New York, US President Bush declares a War on Terror, targeting Iraq as a major player in an "Axis of Evil." Evidence of Iraqi involvement in the attacks is sketchy, but includes a probable contact between hijacker Mohamed Atta and an Iraq official in Czechoslovakia, as well as evidence of defectors that prospective hijackers were trained at Salman Pak base.

14th September 2001 the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz, says that it is "not just simply a matter of capturing people, but the ending of states who sponsor terrorism". Paul Wolfowitz gained stature after the Iraqi attack on Kuwait, which he had correctly pointed out as a possibility back in 1979. Speculation grew that Iraq may have had a hand in training the hijackers. James Woolsey a C.I.A. Director from 1993-95, spoke of the potential for a "very fruitful marriage between Saddam and Bin Laden".

21st September 2001 US Officials told the Washington Times that Saddam Hussein had made contact with Bin Laden days before the attacks. Later, it is verified after repeated denials that hijacker Mohamed Atta met with Iraqi officials in Czechoslovakia. Iraqi defectors claim that hijackers were trained in a mockup Boeing 707 at the Salman Pak base in Iraq.

29th January 2002 US President George Bush jr lists Iraq, Iran, North Korea and Syria as part of an "axis of evil" in his state of the nation speech to Congress. "By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger," he says and shifts the focus of US foreign policy from terror groups to governments.

16th August 2002 started with the death of Abu Nidal (Sabri Banna) head of the Fatah Revolutionary Council by assassination or suicide in Bagdad.

12th September 2002 US President George W. Bush (President George H. W. Bush’s son) addressed a special session of the United Nations calling for multilateral action against Iraq. Iraq responded by announcing it would allow inspections unconditionally, but quickly retracts the offer, making it conditional on no new US resolutions.

5th February 2003 Colin Powell presents proof to the United Nations Security Council that Iraq was still producing and holding weapons for mass destructions. Powell also presents proof that there is a link between Iraq and Al-Qa'ida by the Kurdish group Ansar al-Islam. Western non US affiliated inspectors to Iraq later declared Powell's proof on mass destruction to be a "lie", and the US has never issued any arrest order on the leader of Ansar al-Islam who was living freely in Oslo, the capital city of Norway.

19th March 2003 US and British forces begin the 2nd Gulf War against Iraq. However, the goal for this war is to remove Saddam Hussein and destroy what is believed to be his Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).

9th April 2003 Bagdad falls and coalition troops helped the local people topple the large statue of Saddam Hussein in the centre of Bagdad.

15th April 2003 the city of Tikrit fell and the Coalition Forces declared the war was effectively over. Tikrit was the home town of the President Saddam Hussein and the locals fought hard to hang onto the city.

13th December 2003 Saddam Hussein was captured by U.S. forces. After being discovered in a mud hole by a remote farmhouse near his home city of Tikrit.

31st March 2004 four Mercenaries, all U.S. civilian contractors, were killed in a grenade attack on their vehicle by guerrillas in Fallujah. After the attack, a violent mob moved in to pull out and mutilate the charred bodies. Two were hung from a bridge over the Euphrates.

28th June 2004 Autonomy is restored for Iraq as an interim government under the leadership of Lyad Allawi. However, there were still large numbers of foreign troops (mainly US and British) in the country which does not answer to the Iraqi government. Through the second half of 2004 the situation in Iraq worsened, involving more and more effective attacks on both Iraqi government installations and foreign troops. Kidnappings of foreign civilians, often ending to their execution had become a preferred strategy for disrupting the establishment of the new state.

November 2004 the Coalition and freshly formed Iraqi forces began an attack on rebel forces in Fallujah, reputedly led by Abu-Musab al Zarqawi, pegged by the US as a member of Al-Qaeda. Numerous civilians were killed in the attacks and Arab sources reported damage to mosques and hospitals. United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan cautioned against the attacks, but Iraqi P.M. Ayad Alawi replied that the attack was necessary to restore order and allow for elections scheduled in January 2005. Then Alawi declared martial law after a series of attacks in various Iraqi cities.

December 2006 Saddam Hussein was executed for crimes against humanity.

September 2007 saw a controversy against private security Contractors after Blackwater security guards allegedly fired at civilians killing 17.

This brings us to the subject of Mercenaries, who are now suddenly known as Contractors.  A name change that tried to isolate them from the earlier connections with what most people believed a Mercenary was, when referring to the Congo Mercenaries during the 1960’s, but more so the Angolan involvement during 1974/75. This latter conflict did give the trade a bad name for a while. Thus the name Contractor is now used when we talk about this type of work. However the use of the Contractor in Iraq started quite innocently.

Most of the coalition Forces knew that once they had taken control of the country it would mean that they would be involved for several more years before they could pull out and let the country run its self. All of the coalition countries had many troops on the ground that had to be looked after. However, they also wanted them out controlling the countryside and cities and not running and looking after the base camps, to which the servicemen would return.

Enter Halliburton an American company. At first the company supplied most of the catering and personal needs for the troops throughout Iraq. This meant that the military could concentrate on controlling of the country. This was during a time when America had a lot of troops on the ground but needed more. Something they did not have at that time. Therefore releasing them from camp chores meant that they could spend more time out on military duty.

Following the end of Operation Desert Storm in February 1991, the Pentagon, led by then Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, paid Halliburton’s subsidiary company Brown & Root Services over $8.5 million to study the use of private military forces with American soldiers in combat zones.

Later It became apparent that many of the leading Iraqi people who were trying to get the country back on its feet needed protection by western styled military personnel in the guise of body guards and drivers. There was just not enough military personnel to go around, and so Halliburton’s via Brown & Root offered a new service that of the Contractor, hundreds of them.  Their main job was as personal body guards to these high profile Iraqi’s, along with other foreign diplomats, dignitaries, and the media. While driving these potential targets around it sometimes took at least 4 to 6 body guards with two and sometimes three vehicles.

Looking back it’s quite amazing just how many ex military personnel have volunteered for service in Iraq during this period of time. There certainly was no shortage of volunteers for that type of work.

However, this situation of Contractors fighting alongside of the regular armies has a down side, being that most of the Contractors earn twice as much money as the regular soldier and problems are starting to appear and a rift has developed between them that is steadily growing. Something that has to be sorted before it all gets out of hand.

There is another problem that has reared its ugly head that may cause problems further down the track. At this time of writing (2010) more than a third of the Contractors come from South Africa and its rumoured that the South African government wants to pass a law that their citizens are not allowed to leave their country and fight for a foreign country. If and when this law is passed many of these Contractors will not be able to return home because of the threat of imprisonment. And this from a so called democratic government, who refuse to add the names of white South African soldiers who have fallen in combat on their National War Memorial!!!!!

Since Halliburton’s first became involved there have been many other Contractor companies from around the world establish themselves in Iraq, as there are  billions of dollars involved in this type of work. Once the Western countries start pulling out of Iraq I think this type of work will escalate even further, as long as the west keep paying the bills.

Most of these contractors are already highly skilled in the jobs they do, with their country of origin having already picked up the cost of training them. Many cannot settle down to a so called 9 to 5 daytime job. Why not let their skills be used for this type of work, it gives them a job  and in most cases they will not need basic training, maybe just an update as to the terrain they are fighting in. Maybe it’s time that the United Nations uses these soldiers as a peace keeping force throughout the world. However, I would not hold your breath, as they picked up the official title of being a toothless tiger many years ago. Their decisions are always too late and the problems are long since over, if and when they move in.

However, when it comes to fighting alongside the regular soldier and his smaller wage packet, of that I have no answers.

If you think you can add to this page on Iraq with information, stories, photos article etc etc. I will give you full credit and copyright where possible, then please get in touch.

Terry Aspinall 2010



'Private Warriors' a documentary by Dateline 2005
Blackwater The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army
Occupiers Spend Millions on Private Army of Security Men
'Lords of War' an article about Iraq from Journalist Nick Ryan