March 26th, 2007
Pilgrimage to Karbala
Data: Events, Iran and Iraq
1920-1921 Having ended the Ottoman rule of the region, Great Britain establishes the nation of Iraq by uniting the three provinces of Mosul, Baghdad, and Al-Basrah. The British grant the throne of the new land to Faysal I, and a treaty of alliance is signed between Iraq and Great Britain.
1921 In Iran, the ruling Qajar dynasty is weak and the country is economically broken and in the grip of foreign powers. Reza Khan Pahlavi, leading a group of idealistic youth and backed by British diplomats, stages a coup, deposing the Qajar. In 1925 Pahlavi is crowned Reza Shah Pahlavi and promotes a policy of modern and secular rule, limiting the power of the Shiite religious courts.
1925 A constitution is ratified in Iraq. Known as the Organic Law, the document provides for constitutional monarchy, a parliamentary government, and a bicameral legislature containing an elected House of Representatives.
1932 The British mandate ends; Iraq becomes an independent state and is admitted to the League of Nations. After Faysal’s death in 1933, Iraq’s unstable government faces uprisings and violent competition between rival factions.
1941 IRAN — Reza Shah Pahlavi steps down and passes the crown to his young son, Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi. Economic woes and religious persecution result in a politicized populace, and the National Front, an opposition party seeking limited power for the monarchy and more control over Iran’s natural resources, is formed.
1945 IRAQ — Having sided with the Allies in World War II, Iraq is in the favor of the Western powers and is admitted to the United Nations. Iraq is also a founding member of the Arab League, which forms in 1945 and fights an unsuccessful war against Israel in 1948.
1951 IRAN — Mohammed Mossadeq of the National Front becomes prime minister of Iran and passes a bill that nationalizes Iran’s oil industry, which had been in British control. Britain imposes an economic embargo and begins planning a coup with the newly formed Central Intelligence Agency.
1953 IRAN — The CIA-backed coup is successful in Iran, overthrowing Mossadeq and returning power to Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi. Political dissent is quashed and Western oil companies resume business.
1955 IRAQ — In response to Soviet support for the Kurdish minority, Iraq joins the Baghdad Pact, an alliance against the Soviets among Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom.
1958-1963 IRAQ — Popular dissatisfaction with the Iraqi monarchy results in a military coup. The royal family is executed and a republic is declared in Baghdad, headed by ranking officer Abd-al-Karim Kassem. Iraq withdraws from the Baghdad Pact, normalizes relations with the USSR, and lays claim to territory in Kuwait and Iran. The administration lasts five years before it is overthrown by the Baath (“Revivalist” or “Renaissance”) Party, resulting in the leadership of Abdul Salam Arif.
1962 IRAQ — In hopes of establishing an independent Kurdistan, the Kurds revolt and are put down by the Iraqi government. The “Kurdish War” will last the next several years.
1963 IRAN — The Shah sponsors the “White Revolution” program, a broad platform of economic and social reforms. Conservative Shia clerics are aggrieved by their newly limited power and a move toward secular values.
1965 IRAN — Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini speaks out against the White Revolution and is exiled. With fellow clerics, he develops a plan known as “velayat-e faqih” (“governance of the jurist”), in which power is shared between the government and the Shia clerics. Popular dissatisfaction with the Shah grows.
1968 IRAQ — In a bloodless coup, Baathist Major General Bakr seizes power of Iraq, with Saddam Hussein, deputy secretary general of the Baath party, as his vice president.
1972 IRAQ — Iraq nationalizes the Iraq Petroleum Company and allies itself with the Soviet Union.
1973 IRAQ — Iraq participates with Egypt, Syria and other Arab states in another unsuccessful war against Israel, known as the Yom Kippur War or Ramadan War.
1974-1975 IRAN & IRAQ — Iran and Iraq sign the Algiers Agreement, which arbitrates border conflicts and provides for an end to Iranian support for the Kurdish uprising.
1978 IRAN — Students and other disaffected Iranians riot in Tehran. The government responds with a harsh crackdown and the city is engulfed in violence, fueling further anger toward the monarchy.
1979 IRAN — The Shah, who had recently declared himself King of Kings and Emperor of Iran, goes into exile. Khomeini returns to Iran. The Islamic revolution, based on the theory of “velayat-e faqih,” begins, and the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) comes into being on April 1.

IRAQ — Saddam Hussein assumes the presidency. Tensions rise between the two nations.

1979-1981 IRAN — In response to reports that the deposed Shah was receiving medical treatment in the United States, Islamic militants attack the American embassy in Tehran, seizing 66 hostages. All hostages are released by 1981, but the crisis has a chilling effect on relations between Iran and the West, with the United States cutting off diplomatic relations with Iran in 1980.
1980 IRAN & IRAQ — In July, the Shah dies in Cairo. On September 22, Iraq invades western Iran. Iraqi government officials maintain that Iran had been conducting artillery attacks on Iraqi towns since the beginning of the month. The invasion initiates a bloody war of attrition that will last eight years, marked by atrocities, use of chemical weapons, and heavy losses on both sides. With the help of a United Nations resolution, the war ends in a stalemate in July 1988.
1982-1984 IRAQ — Iraq forms a bond with the United States. Iraq is first removed from the American list of states that support international terrorism, then visited by a U.S. special envoy, headed by then-former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. By 1984, Iraq and the United States have officially reestablished diplomatic ties.
1989 IRAN — Ayatollah Khomeini dies. Ali Khamenei is appointed Supreme Leader, and Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is elected president. The pragmatic Rafsanjani struggles with conservative clerical elements to initiate reform and the normalization of relations with the West.
1990-1991 IRAQ — Iraq, financially devastated by the war with Iran, invades and occupies Kuwait. A U.S.-led coalition mobilizes Operation Desert Storm, a massive bombing campaign in Iraq followed by an invasion of ground troops in Kuwait, forcing an end to the Iraqi occupation. After the cease-fire is declared, Iraq puts down Kurdish and Shiite revolts.
1994 IRAQ — Iraq officially recognizes Kuwait as an independent state.
1997 IRAN — Reformer Mohammed Khatami is elected president by a landslide, but his policies are sharply opposed by the conservative clergy. With popular support and rioting students demanding relaxed social controls, reformers eventually take the majority of the parliament.
2002 IRAN & IRAQ — During his State of the Union address, President George W. Bush declares that nations in the process of developing “weapons of mass destruction” are enemies in the War on Terror. He identifies Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as an “axis of evil.”
2003 IRAQ — U.S.-led forces invade Iraq, taking control of Baghdad in April and declaring the end of major combat in May. By August an insurgency has begun to stage terrorist opposition to the occupation. In December, Saddam Hussein is captured near Tikrit.
2004 IRAN — The clerical Council of Guardians disqualifies the great majority of reformist candidates for parliament, effectively ending the Khatami reformist movement.

IRAQ — The insurgency is in full force, including a major battle in Fallujah and devastating attacks in Karbala and Baghdad.

2005 IRAN — Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the conservative mayor of Tehran, wins a surprise victory in the Iranian presidential election.

IRAQ — Saddam Hussein stands trial for crimes against humanity. An election is held in Iraq, in which Shiite leaders take most of the seats in the new parliament, and the Kurdish Jalal Talabani is elected president.

2006-2007 IRAN & IRAQ — In Samarra, the golden dome of the Al Askari mosque, among the holiest sites in Shiism, is bombed, triggering waves of sectarian reprisals and counterattacks which many analysts describe as a civil war. Saddam Hussein is convicted of crimes against humanity, and executed by hanging. Tensions rise between the United States and Iran over fears of Iranian development of nuclear weapons. Sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shiites results in 100 civilians each day in Iraq, according to U.N. estimates.
Sources: BBC News Country Profiles: Iran and PERSIAN MIRRORS: THE ELUSIVE FACE OF IRAN, Elaine Sciolino, 2000.

The Online Newshour, Iraq in Transition, December, 2006

The Encyclopedia Britannica Online

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