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العراق Iraq Becomes Totalitarian

By Levi Clancy for Student Reader on

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Military Coup d'État


Ba'thist military coup d'état organized by al-Bakr ousts non-Ba'thist allies.

Iraq-USSR Oil Agreement


Major agreement between Iraq and USSR on Soviet assistance in exploiting Iraqi oil fields.

Saddam Husain Appears


Saddam Husain appointed to ruling Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) and becomes its vice-chairman.

Kurdistan Manifesto


Manifesto on Kurdistan grants limited autonomy. Barzani calls cease-fire.

Kirkuk Arabisation


Kirkuk has an important oil refinery and the was thus left out of the definition of Kurdish areas. Large numbers of Kirkuki Kurds were forced out of their jobs and homes and resettled elsewhere. Arabs were then made to move to Kirkuk form the south as part of the government's Arabisation program.

Land Reform


Land reform measures.

Kurdistan Recognized


New provisional constitution recognizes Kurdish nationalism.

Iraq and Iran Chill


Relations between Iraq and Iran are severed.

Iraq-USSR Treaty


Iraq and USSR sign fifteen-year Iraq-USSR Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation.

Geneva Convention


The regulations of the 1972 Convention of Geneva requesting all countries to cease production, completion and conservation of all kinds of chemical and biological weapons and to demolish them and the UN 37/98 resolution emphasizing the necessity of observing the articles and contents of the 1925 protocol and the 1972 Convention of Geneva have also been accepted by the UN member countries including Iraq.

IPC Nationalized


Iraq Petroleum Corporation nationalized.

North Kurdistan Unrest


Fighting erupts in northern Kurdistan.

Failed Coup


Kazzar leads a failed coup attempt. President al-Bakr and Vice-President Hussein reinforce their hold on the state.

Iraq in War Against Israel


Iraq limitedly participates in war with Israel.

Kurd Autonomy Law


Autonomy Law for Kurdish areas is announced. Disagreement continues between government and KDP. Fighting is widespread throughout Kurdistan.

Algiers Agreement


Algiers Agreement between Saddam Hussein and shah of Iran ends Iranian assistance to KDP, leading to collapse of the Kurdish revolt.

Kurd Party Split


Kurdistan Democratic Party Provisional Leadership (KDP-PL) was led by Masoud Barzani. Popular Union of Kurdistan (PUK) was led by Jalal Talabani.

Safar Intifada


30,000 process from Najaf to Karbala as an anti-government protest known as the Safar Intifada.

Ayatollah Expelled


Ayatolla Khomaini expelled from Iraq.

Baghdad Summit


Baghdad Summit following Camp David accords marks Iraqi bid for Arab leadership.

Shi'I Islamist Uprising

1979 Spring

Success of Iranian revolution encourages Shi'i Islamist organizations to launch more active campaigns in Iraq.

President al-Bakr Resigns


President al-Bakr resigns.

President Saddam Hussein


Vice-President Saddam Hussein immediately sworn in as President. Purge of Hussein's party, the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), and also of Ba'th Party.

KDP Congress


KDP Congress elects Masoud Barzani as chairman and calls fro continuing armed struggle inside Iraq.
Mujama'aat for Kurds


Mujama'aat (collective towns) are built by the Iraqi government to house Kurds whose rural communities were destroyed by scorched-earth policies of the 1970s and 1980s. They were generally built close to the main roads for ease of surveillance by the camp. The Barzani clan was transferred to two mujama'aat outside Qushtapa, named by the Iraqis al-Qadissiya (after the historic battle where Arabs defeated Persians and converted them to Islam) and al-Quds (the Arabic name for Jerusalem, meaning the Holy).

National Assembly


Law for election of National Assembly in Iraq.
Shi'A Expulsion


Ayatollah al-Sadr and his sister Bint al-Huda executed in Baghdad. Over 40,000 Shi'a expelled to Iran.

Iraq Invades Iran


Iraqi forces invade Iran.

Iran Counteroffensive


Iran's counteroffensive recaptures most of its territory.

Hussein's Totalitarianism


9th Regional Congress of Ba'th Party reasserts Saddam Hussein's absolute control.

al-Bakr Dies

1982 Autumn

Former President Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr dies suddenly.

Iran Seized Haj Omran


KDP units help Iran seize the border town of Haj Omran in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Iraq Slaughters Barzani


In retaliation for helping the Iranians, Iraq sent troops to Qushtapa's two mujama'aat (where the Barzani clan had been relocated) to seize the men and boys and load them into trucks at gunpoint. The collective towns of Qushtapa were left inhabited almost exclusively by widows and their children.

Escalation of Gulf Wars


Wars escalate in the waters of the Gulf.

Iraq-US Relations


Iraq re-establishes diplomatic relations with the United States.

Iran Captures al-Faw


Iran captures the al-Faw pensinsula.

Anti-KDP & -PUK Action


Iraqi government campaigns against KDP and PUK in Kurdistan.

Germiyan Relocations


'Sumud ... was built by the Iraqi army in 1987. When it was finished, the government announced that the people from all the villages of Germiyan should abandon their homes and come and live here. Many villagers thought it was a plan to kill them and they didn't come. But later in the year, the villages near the main road to Kifri were destroyed by the government and so their people were forced to come to Sumud. When they arrived, they were given houses. The government waited another year for the people from the more distant villages of Germiyan, far from the main road, to follow the ones who villages had been destroyed. ... But the people didn't come and so in 1988 those villages became a target of the Anfal campaign. Thousands of villagers disappeared and the villages were dynamited and bulldozed into the ground. The women and children who didn't disappear ended up in Sumud, but in worse conditions than those who had come here voluntarily in '87.' (Thornhill, p 169)

PUK Op in Jafati

14-16 04 1987

PUK peshmerga seized over 100 government posts in the Jafati valley. Most of the peshmerga from Balisan were involved in this operation. In reprisal the Balisan Valley was attacked on 17 04 1987

Kurdistan Bombarded

1987 04

Twenty four villages of Iraq's Kurdistan were targeted by chemical bombardment. These villages were chemically bombarded twice in less than 48 hours. Saber Ahmad Khoshnam, one of the inhabitants of the bombarded villages in Loqmanodulleh Hospital in Tehran on 28th of April 1987, told reporters that the Iraqi warplanes dropped 18 chemical bombs at Sheikh Dassan, Kani Bard, Pasian and Tuteman villages. He said that more than one hundred people of these villages were wounded and that he had witnessed that an entire family in Parsian village lost their sight. In the course of the chemical bombardment of the late April 1987 of the Iraqi villages, more than 130 innocent villagers were martyred and about five hundred of them were wounded.

The Iraqi regime has deployed chemical weapons against its own people while the UN general secretary's representatives during their visits to Iran in two occasions, prepared detailed reports from the deployment of the chemical weapons against the civilian people and submitted them to the United Nations in reports number S/1 6433 and S/18852 and after the submission of these reports by the general secretary to the Security Council, eventually this council, too, joined those individuals and organizations who condemned Iraq's deployment of chemical weapons. But despite all these condemnations, Baghdad's rulers have continued their crimes.

Balisan Valley Attacked

17 04 1987

The Balisan Valley was attacked with chemicals, including the village of Sheikh Wisan, in reprisal for the PUK operations in days prior in Jafati. The chemicals had actually landed up the slope from Sheikh Wasan, but the gas was so heavy that it drifted along. The shells perhaps still remain, their thin green metal hulls surely now rusted beyond immediate recognition.

There had been about 100 families living in Sheikh Wisan at the time of the attack, which meant about 600-700 people. Four hundred and eighty-five were affected by the chemicals, and 153 died. He pointed to a chart on the wall, a hand-written list of the names of the martyrs, arranged by gamily. In some families, almost no one had survived. The name Kimia - 'Chemical' -- appeared here and there, beside the date of birth of several babies born in the days following the attack.
The attack on Sheikh Wisan on 17 April 1987 was Ali Hassan al-Majid's first act after he was given the brief to find a solution to the 'Kurdish question' once and for all. From 1980 to 1987, the Balisan valley and its 42 villages had been under peshmerga control and a 'no-go' area for the government. One of the PUK's four malbands or headquarters was situated in the valley and Sheikh Wisan had a peshmerga base and many peshmerga, renowned for their bravery. (Thornhill, p 196)

After the bombing, 2,000 Iraqi soldiers were brought in to comb the valley for peshmerga.

Kurdistan Front


Kurdistan Front formed to unite main Kurdish parties.

al-Anfal Begins


The al-Anfal begins in Kurdistan, including the notorious chemical attacks in Halabja that came to symbolize the senseless and unbridled aggression of the al-Anfal.

Halabja Attack

1988 03

Halabja was a town of 70,000 people. Chemical bombardments on Halabja began before sunrise on the 18th of March; on this third day of attacks, Halabja was bombarded more than twenty times by the Iraqi regime's warplanes with chemical and cluster bombs. According to the findings of Iranian physicians, the mustard, nerve and cyanide gases have been used against civilians in Halabja and its surroundings. The chemicals used included mustard gas and the nerve agents sarin, tabun, and VX. At least 5,000 people died immediately as a result of the chemical attack and it is estimated that up to 12,000 people in all died during the course of the three days of attack. Post-mortem examination of the bodies of the chemical bombardment of Halabja, has proved that the suffocation of the most of the martyrs has been due to the inhalation of cyanide gas. Along with Halabja, Khormal, Dojaileh and their surrounding villages were also chemically bombarded frequently but the center of the catastrophe was Halabja. (KDP's A Glance at the Town on the Position of Halabja, link)

Iraq-Iran Ceasefire


Iran accepts UN cease-fire resolution. War with Iraq ends.

Kuwait Invasion


Iraq invades and annexes Kuwait. UN imposes total trade embargo and sanctions on Iraq.


Tripp, Charles. A History of Iraq: New Edition.

Student Reader  |  FD7R75BS4T

Marr, Phoebe. The Modern History of Iraq, 2nd Edition. 2004. Westview Press. Boulder, Colorado.

Student Reader  |  KLSKRRLR3Q
2007 September 18th

Tripp, Charles. A History of Iraq: New Edition.