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 Detailed Timeline of Iraq History
Turk/Mongol Rule (930-1534)  <<  Ottoman Empire  >>  British-Controlled Iraq (1917-58)

Ottoman Empire in Iraq (1534 - 1917)
Four Centuries of Instability in Iraq Under Ottoman Turk Rule.

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Ottoman EmpirePersian Buywayhids Conquer Baghdad (934): The Persian Shi’a dynasty conquered Baghdad from the Abbasid rulers. Through 981, they conquered most of Central Iraq (the alluvial plain) and Iran. They kept the Abbasid ruling family as spiritual leaders in Baghdad. The Buywayhid Dynasty came to an end in 1055, when Baghdad was captured by the Seljuk Turks.

Ottoman Empire Captures Baghdad (1534).

Ottomans Conquer Rest of Mesopotamia from Safavid Empire (1566): After capturing Baghdad, the Ottoman Empire continued to push into Southern Mesopotamia and east of the Tigris River into Persia. By 1566, the Ottomans achieved their approximate Middle Eastern boundaries that they would largely maintain until their collapse in 1917.

(Timeline Continued Below)

Brief Persian Rule of Baghdad (1622-38): The Safavids retook Baghdad and other parts of Iraq and Iran from the Ottomans in 1622. These gains were lost again to the Ottomans in 1638. Under the brief Safavid rule, the Sunni-Shi’a situation was reversed, with Shi'a Muslims gaining preferential treatment during the short-lived Safavid rule of Iraq.

Instability in Ottoman Iraq (1600 - 1700): The Ottomans failed to exert administrative control over any of Iraq, giving rise to Arab tribal confederations in Southern and Central Iraq. The Kurdish tribes essentially ruled Northern Iraq. Ottoman control was further undermined by frequent Safavid raids along its eastern borders with Persia, and Arab raids along its southern borders with Arabia. As a result, Iraq fell into disrepair, suffering from constant warfare, which led to disease outbreaks and economic break down. Early Ottoman rule in Iraq continued along the same path of regression witnessed during the Mongol era, as advanced urbanization gave way to fragmented, tribalistic organization.

Note: Sunni Favoritism in Ottoman Iraq. The Ottomans were a Sunni Muslim tribe, and therefore installed only Sunni Muslims in positions of political and ecclesiastic importance. This further deepened the Sunni-Shi'a rift. - The World's Largest Maps Store!

Ottoman Empire in Iraq 1700sBeginning of Mamluk Rule in Iraq (1747): The Ottoman sultan authorized the creation of a Mamluk army in Iraq at the beginning of the 18th century (primarily Georgian Christian slaves converted to Islam). This resulted in some semblance of Ottoman rule in Iraq, and a degree of stability. In 1747, the Mamluks decided to assert independence, successfully taking control over Baghdad and surrounding areas. They controlled the Tigris/Euphrates floodplain from the Persian gulf to Kurdistan. The Kurds remained semi-independent in Northern Iraq, remaining more closely aligned with the Ottomans. Mamluk rule was characterized by stability and economic recovery. Modernizing efforts were also undertaken to update the canal system, education system, etc.

British East India Company in Iraq (1763): Allowed by the Mamluks to establish a trading post in Basra, marking the beginning of British influence in Iraq, a precursor to later British domination of Iraq.

British in Kuwait (1775): The British East India Company set up a base in modern Kuwait as an alternative to Basra, which suffered from the plague and Persian invasions. Kuwait stayed under British control/protection for the remainder of the Ottoman Empire, despite Ottoman efforts to bring it back under their control. This became the basis for the modern state of Kuwait, which avoided absorption into modern Iraq at the insistence of the British.

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Ottoman Empire in Iraq 1800sEnd of Mamluk Rule in Iraq (1831): Baghdad became severely flooded in 1831, and consequently was also afflicted by the bubonic plague. The devastation brought an end to Mamluk rule, enabling the Ottoman Empire to step in and retake direct control. Governance proved to be unstable, as Iraq was still very tribal, and resisted Ottoman centralized rule. By late 19th century, modernization, westernization and stabilization began to take root, all of which contributed to promote effective, centralized Ottoman rule. British and French increased their respective presence during the 19th century, with both adding consular offices.

Ottoman Empire Loses Egypt to British in 1882.

Ottoman Iraq in Late 1800s: Ottoman modernization programs were put into effect, along with democratization measures, in response to the stagnation experienced by the Ottoman Empire, and the increasing nationalistic sentiments pervading its provinces. The Ottoman Empire became substantially influenced by western ideas and ideals as the Suez Canal opened, and openness between Asia and the West increased. Turbulence ensued as the revolutionary Young Turks instigated a military coup in 1876, driven by the view that a constitutional monarchy would be more optimal than outright democracy. This emboldened the sultan to suspend the Ottoman Parliament, putting oppressive policies back into place. Despite the success of the coup, ineffectual rulers caused the empire to spiral toward collapse, while disenchanting constituents with heavy-handed centralization, as opposed to the democratic and autonomous measures previously put into place.

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Effect of 1908 Revolution on Iraq (1908): It further polarized nations, as the Young Turks attempted to impose Turkish culture throughout empire. In Iraq, Arabs joined pro-Arab national movements to exert Arab influence and strengthen cultural ties.

1908-09 Democratic Revolution (1908-09): In response to the Sultan Hamid II’s oppressive policies and actions, the Young Turk Revolution deposed him, reenacting the 1876 constitution, and restoring democratic reforms and the Ottoman Parliament. By 1909, it was clear that the parliamentary government was highly instable, as nationalistic agendas created extensive strife and sectarian in-fighting. Sultan Hamid II was re-installed briefly in a 1909 countercoup as a hopeful remedy. He was almost immediately deposed once again, and the parliamentary government was again restored, based on the platform of equal rights for all, regardless of national religious affiliation. The British supported the absolute monarchy though, causing relations to sour with the nascent, democratic Ottoman government.

British Conquest of Iraq in World War IBritish Close in During WWI (1914-15): British forces from India move into Basra, becoming deeply entrenched in Southern Iraq cities.

British Invasions of Iraq in WWI, End of Ottoman Rule (1915-18): The British unsuccessfully invaded Baghdad in 1915, followed by a successful invasion in 1917. Mosul was captured in 1918. Arab nationalists in Iraq supported the British, based on promises of independence after the war, which would be left unfulfilled. Also based on this understanding, Arabs helped the British to place Syria and Lebanon under Allied control. Upon the end of WWI, the Ottoman Empire was disbanded by the Allies, and Iraq fell under British rule.

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 Further Understanding:  Ottoman Legacy in Iraq

The Ottoman Turks had failed to unify Iraq, which continued as a hodge-podge of tenuously-ruled cities, with various, disparate tribal allegiances. This would cause Iraq to continue as an unstable political entity upon the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire after WWI, and contribute to the ongoing and continuing difficulty in Iraq becoming a cohesive state. The Shi’a-Sunni divide was also further compounded by the Ottomans, who favored Sunni Muslims while sidelining Shi'a in all aspects of society.

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Next: British-Controlled Monarchy (1917 - 1958)

Previous: Turk & Mongol Rule (930 - 1534)

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