PERHAPS, the geographical and strategic curse made Iraq the center of greed for old and modern nations. Iraq has witnessed many occupations and blockades for several centuries. After every onslaught, Iraq stood up, dusted the sand of miseries and embarked on a journey towards rebuilding itself.
However, it does not take long for the blockade, war and massacre to recur. One such onslaught in the 13th century prompted Hulagu to flee from Baghdad after 40 days of butchering its people – estimated at 1.8 million.
Iraq has witnessed more than 20 occupations, 14 of which occurred in the previous century. In every occupation, the invader made Iraq either a path toward the Persian region or an exit point for old empires; such as Khosrow I (Anushiruwan) invasion of Mesopotamia and the fight against Eastern Roman Empire Justinian I, followed by invasions which made the place a center of calamities.
In the medieval era, the empires of Achaemenids and Seleucids invaded the region, Parthians and Sasanians during the Iron Age and classical eras, and Muslims in the Caliphate Era in the seventh century.
When Muslims eliminated the Sasanian Empire, Iraq became the capital of the Islamic State in the Caliphate period of Ali bin Abi Taleb. It turned into the golden era during the Abbasid Caliphate in the medieval period. After a series of invasions and conquests, Iraq went under the rule of Buyid Dynasty and Seljuk Empire before it fell under the rule of Moguls who were ousted by the Ottomans in the sixth century but with several intervals as it was invaded by Safavids and Mamluk Dynasties.
During the Islamic Era, the City of Peace – name of Baghdad before the Abbasid Empire – experienced relative calm, especially after the Arabs expelled Persians and started to transform the place into Islamic metropolis under Umayyad rule.
Nonetheless, all that collapsed during the Hulagu invasion in 1258. He committed a horrible massacre which prompted him to flee from the place after 40 days due to the stench of rotting human bodies. Even before Baghdad recovered from Hulagu’s onslaught, his grandson Tamerlane returned to invade it and he committed atrocities as well.
The conflict of rulers over Baghdad was due to the city’s historical role in economy and civilization. This is why it became the center of conflict between fathers and children for a certain period, the way it happened in the Dynasties of the Black and White Sheep Turkomans (Kara Koyunlu and Ak Koyunlu Dynasties), or during the Era of Sasanians and Safavids.
This happened when Qara Yusuf Mohammad Barani, ruler of the Black Sheep Dynasty, killed his son Muhammad Shah after the latter separated from his father’s dynasty rule and rendered Baghdad as the capital of his dynasty. However, he did not stay long as he was toppled by the White Sheep Dynasty.
During the Safavid Dynasty, Shah Ismael invaded Baghdad where he brought back destruction, similar to the one made by Khosrow in the Lakhmids era. He killed all Muslim scholars in Madinah. At the time, he appointed his servant as governor and gave him the title ‘caliphate of caliphates’ in a bid to mock the Arabs.
The 10th invasion was during the Era of Zulfiqar bin Ali who, with the help of his two siblings and alliance with the Ottomans, expelled the Safavids; but the Shah of Iran at the time – Tahmasp I, attacked Baghdad again and barricaded it for several weeks.
He ended up flipping one of the brothers in Baghdad and through him, the doors of Baghdad were opened at night to allow the Persians to commit massacre. After capturing the city, he appointed the treacherous brother as governor.
The 11th onslaught came through Ottoman Sultanate Suleiman Al-Qanuni who eliminated the Safavids and ordered reconstruction of places which were destroyed, especially the domes and mosques including the mosque of the great Imam or the mosque of Abu Hanifa Al-Nouman and the historical schools in the city of Baghdad which remained as shrines up to this day.
This city, which has not witnessed prosperity for a long time, was scheduled for a new onslaught in the early 20th century; but from outside the Middle East. When the Ottoman Empire collapsed in 1917, the British Empire entered Baghdad and appointed King Faisal as the first ruler of the newly established Hashemite Kingdom.
Peace and security did not take root for long. The partisan rebel movement started since the end of the Second World War until the bloody ouster of the monarch in 1958 which was characterized by dragging people on the streets.
With this coup, the new blood era of Iraq’s history started; but this time, from their own people. The ouster of Abdul-Kareem Qassem was followed by the ouster of Abdul-Salaam Aref, and later, the overthrow of Ahmad Hassan Al-Bakr by Saddam Hussein whose rule and that of his Baathist movement ended with the fall of Bagdad in the hands of American forces in 2003 after a blockade which continued for 12 years.
In the past 15 years, Iraq witnessed miseries brought by the Americans in the sense that those who ruled it were merely a clique of agents for the Persian Mullah regime. They worked to impoverish Iraqis and carried out organized looting of the country’s wealth. The wealth looted for 10 years is estimated at $200 billion.
Today, Iraq is trying to dust itself from miseries through sectarian resistance and terrorist militia which openly announced hostility against the agents of Mullah and resisted the Persian interference in Iraq’s internal affairs.
But at the same time, it closes all windows through which toxic wind could permeate Iraq. The question is: Have the Iraqis succeeded in doing so and learned historic lessons – some of which were presented between the lines of this article?
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah – Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times