Thursday, April 05, 2007


A July 2006 estimate of the total Iraqi population is 26,783,383.

Seventy-four percent of Iraq's population are Arabs; the other major ethnic groups are the Kurds at 22-24%, Assyrians, Iraqi Turkmen and others (5%), who mostly live in the north and northeast of the country. Other distinct groups are Persians and Armenians (possible descendants of the ancient Mesopotamian culture). About 25,000–60,000 Marsh Arabs live in southern Iraq.

Arabic and Kurdish are official languages. Assyrian and Turkmen are official languages in areas where the Assyrians and Iraqi Turkmen are located respectively. Armenian and Persian are also spoken but to a lesser extent. English is the most commonly spoken Western language.

Ethnic Composition:

Ethnic groups: Arab, 70–74%; Kurdish, 22-24%; Turkoman, Assyrian or other 5%.
Religions: Muslim, 97%; Christian or other, 3%.
Proportions: There are no official figures available, mainly due to the highly politically charged nature of the subject. Source: Britannica: Shi'a 60%, Sunni 40% Source: CIA World Fact Book: Shi'a 60%-65%, Sunni 32%-37%

Shi'a: mostly Arabs some Turkmen and Faili Kurds almost all are Twelver school
Sunni: composed of Arabs, Turkmen who are Hanafi school and Kurds who are Shafi school
According to most western sources the majority of Iraqis are Shi'ite Arab Muslims (around 60%), and Sunnis represent about 40% of the population made up of Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen. Sunnis hotly dispute these figures, including an ex-Iraqi Ambassador, referring to American sources. They claim that many reports or sources only include Arab Sunnis as 'Sunni', missing out the Kurdish and Turkmen Sunnis. Some argue that the 2003 Iraq Census shows that Sunnis were a slight majority. Ethnic Assyrians (most of whom are adherents of the Chaldean Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East) account for most of Iraq's sizable Christian population, along with Armenians. Bahá'ís, Mandaeans, Shabaks, and Yezidis also exist. Most Kurds are Sunni Muslims, although the Faili (Feyli) Kurds are largely Shi'a.

Occupation by Coalition Forces

Iraq was invaded in March 2003 by a United States-organized coalition with the stated reasons that Iraq had not abandoned its nuclear and chemical weapons development program according to United Nations resolution 687. When Iraq invaded Kuwait, United Nations Security Council, under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, adopted resolution 678, authorizing armed action against Iraq. Resolution 678 contained vague language authorizing U.N. member states to use "all necessary means" to "restore international peace and security in the area." After Iraq was expelled from Kuwait, the United Nations passed a cease-fire resolution 687. The agreement included provisions obligating Iraq to discontinue its nuclear weapons program. United States asserted that because Iraq was in "material breach" of resolution 687, the armed forces authorization of resolution 678 was revived.

Downtown Baghdad monument of Saddam Hussein vandalized by Iraqis shortly after the Occupation of Coalition Forces in April 2003.The public justifications, given for invasion included purported Iraqi government links to Al Qaeda, claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, the opportunity to remove an oppressive dictator from power, and the bringing of democracy to Iraq. In his State of Union Address on January 29, 2002, the American President George W. Bush declared Iraq as being a member of the "axis of evil". Like North Korea and Iran, Iraq's attempt to acquire weapons of mass destruction gave credentials to claim that the Iraqi government caused a serious threat to America's national security. "Iraq continues to flaunt its hostilities toward America and to support terror. The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade... This is a regime that agreed to international inspections--then kicked out inspectors. This is a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world... By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes [Iran, Iraq and North Korea] pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred."

The United States established the Coalition Provisional Authority to govern Iraq. Government authority was transferred to an Iraqi Interim Government in 2004 and a permanent government was elected in October 2005. Over 140,000 Coalition troops remain in Iraq in order to assist the government.

Studies have placed the number of civilians deaths as high as 655,000 (see The Lancet study), though most studies have put the number much lower, such as the Iraq Body Count project, which uses a figure at less than 10% of The Lancet Study. However, the Iraq Body Count website points out "Our maximum therefore refers to reported deaths - which can only be a sample of true deaths unless one assumes that every civilian death has been reported. It is likely that many if not most civilian casualties will go unreported by the media." .

After the invasion, al-Qaeda was able to exploit the insurgency to establish its organization in the country in concurrency with a Arab-Sunni led insurgency and sectarian violence. In 2006, Foreign Policy Magazine named Iraq as the fourth most unstable nation in the world.

On December 30, 2006, Saddam Hussein was hanged to death. Hussein's half-brother and former intelligence chief Barzan Hassan and former chief judge of the Revolutionary Court Awad Hamed al-Bandar were similarly executed on January 15, 2007. Later, Taha Yassin Ramadan, Saddam's former deputy and former vice-president (originally sentenced to life in prison but later to death by hanging), was likewise executed on March 20, 2007, the fourth and last man in the al-Dujail trial to die by hanging for crimes against humanity.