Formerly part of the Ottoman Empire, Iraq was occupied by the United Kingdom during World War I and was declared a League of Nations mandate under UK administration in 1920. Iraq attained its independence as a kingdom in 1932. It was proclaimed a "republic" in 1958 after a coup overthrew the monarchy, but in actuality, a series of strongmen ruled the country until 2003. The last was SADDAM Husayn from 1979 to 2003. Territorial disputes with Iran led to an inconclusive and costly eight-year war (1980-88). In August 1990, Iraq seized Kuwait but was expelled by US-led UN coalition forces during the Gulf War of January-February 1991. After Iraq's expulsion, 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 led to the Second Gulf War in March 2003 and the ouster of the SADDAM Husayn regime by US-led forces.
In October 2005, Iraqis approved a constitution in a national referendum and, pursuant to this document, elected a 275-member Council of Representatives (COR) in December 2005. The COR approved most cabinet ministers in May 2006, marking the transition to Iraq's first constitutional government in nearly a half century. Iraq's constitution also established the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), a semi-autonomous region that administers the governorates of Erbil, Dahuk, and As Sulaymaniyah. Iraq has held four national legislative elections since 2006, most recently in October 2021 when 329 legislators were elected to the COR. Following these elections and Iraq's longest government formation process in the post-SADDAM era, the COR approved Muhammad Shia' al-SUDANI as prime minister in October 2022. Iraq has repeatedly postponed separate elections for provincial councils - last held in 2013 - and since 2019 the prime minister has had the authority to appoint governors rather than provincial councils. In early 2023, the COR voted to hold provincial elections by the end of the year.
Between 2014 and 2017, Iraq fought a military campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS) to recapture territory the group seized in 2014. In December 2017, then-Prime Minister Haydar al-ABADI publicly declared victory against ISIS, although military operations against the group continue in rural areas. Also in late 2017, Baghdad forcefully seized disputed territories across central and northern Iraq from the KRG, following a non-binding Kurdish independence referendum.
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NOTE: The information regarding Iraq on this page is re-published from the 2023 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Iraq 2023 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Iraq 2023 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.
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