Major Events in Iraq - History

Major Events in Iraq - History


1900-2000: Iraq timeline

A timeline of key events in Iraqi history and class struggle in the 20th century.

Since the state of Iraq was created early this century, the working class in the area have suffered brutal exploitation and repression at the hands of the rival ruling class groups competing for power. As if dealing with these home grown gangsters wasn't enough, they have also faced the bullets and bombs of the global capitalist powers (especially Britain and America) seeking to control the oil wealth of this part of the world.

Meanwhile opposition political organisations such as the Iraqi Communist Party and the Kurdish Democratic Party have consistently made deals with both Iraqi regimes and the global powers at the expense of those who they claimed to be leading in resistance to the state. Despite all this, the working class has shown itself a force to be reckoned with, toppling governments and sabotaging war efforts. This brief chronology charts some of the key moments in a century of war and rebellion.

1900
Iraq doesn't exist. Since the sixteenth century the area that will later become Iraq has formed part of the Turkish-based Ottoman Empire. The Empire's rule is based in the cities the countryside remains dominated by rural tribal groups, some of them nomadic.

1912
Turkish Petroleum Company formed by British, Dutch and German interests acquires concessions to prospect for oil in the Ottoman provinces of Baghdad and Mosul (both later part of Iraq).

1914-18
Turkey sides with Germany in the First World War. To protect its strategic interests and potential oil fields, Britain occupies Basra in November 1914, eventually capturing Baghdad in 1917. By the end of the war, most of the provinces of Iraq are occupied by British forces although some areas remain "unpacified". Colonial direct rule is established in "British Mesopotamia", with the top levels of the administration in British hands.

1919
Throughout 1919 and 1920 there are constant risings in northern Iraq, with British military officers and officials being killed. The different tribes in this area share a common Kurdish language and culture, but at this stage there is little demand for a separate Kurdish nation state. The issue is rather resistance to any external state authority.

The RAF bomb Kurdish areas. Wing-Commander Arthur Harris (later known as "Bomber Harris" for his role in the destruction of Dresden in World War Two) boasts: "The Arab and the Kurd now know what real bombing means in casualties and damage. Within 45 minutes a full-size village can be practically wiped out and a third of its inhabitants killed or injured".

Colonel Gerald Leachman, a leading British officer declares that the only way to deal with the tribes is "wholesale slaughter". The RAF Middle Eastern Command request chemical weapons to use "against recalcitrant Arabs as (an) experiment". Winston Churchill, Secretary of State for War comments "I am strongly in favour of using poisonous gas against uncivilised tribes.. It is not necessary only to use the most deadly gases: gases can be used which cause great inconvenience and would spread a lively terror and yet would leave no serious permanent effects of most of those affected". Others argue that the suggested gas would in fact "kill children and sickly persons" and permanently damage eyesight. At this stage, technical problems prevent the use of gas, but later it is deployed.

1920
In the post-war carve up of the spoils of conquest between the victorious imperialist powers, Britain gets Iraq (as well as Palestine), France gets Syria and Lebanon. The borders of the new state of Iraq are set by the great powers, setting the scene for a century of border conflicts (e.g the Iran/Iraq war).

The British authorities impose tight controls, collecting taxes more rigorously than their predecessors and operating forced labour schemes. In June 1920 an armed revolt against British rule ("the Revolution of 1920") spreads across southern and central Iraq. For three months Britain loses control of large areas of the countryside. British military posts are overrun, and 450 British troops are killed (1500 are injured).

1921
By February the rebellion has been crushed, with 9000 rebels killed or wounded by British forces. Whole villages are destroyed by British artillery, and suspected rebels shot without trial. The air power of the RAF plays a major role what this involves is shown by one report of "an air raid in which men, women and children had been machine gunned as they fled from a village".

Britain decides to replace direct colonial rule with an Arab administration which it hopes will serve British interests. At the head of the new state structure, Britain creates a monarchy with Faysal as Iraq's first King. Although senior positions are now filled by Iraqis, ultimate control remains with their British advisers'.

1924
Britain's Labour Government sanctions the use of the RAF against the Kurds, dropping bombs and gas, including on Sulliemania in December. The effects are described by Lord Thompson as "appalling" with panic stricken tribespeoplefleeing "into the desert where hundreds more must have perished of thirst".

1927

The British-controlled Iraq Petroleum Company (successor to the TPC) opens its first substantial oil well at Baba Gurgur, north of Kirkuk. Tons of oil decimate the local countryside before the well is capped.

1930

The Anglo-Iraq Treaty paves the way for independence. However the Treaty provides for Britain to maintain two air bases, and for British influence on Iraq's foreign policy until 1957. In negotiations the British government contends that Kuwait "is a small expendable state which could be sacrificed without too much concern if the power struggles of the period demanded it".

Kurdish uprisings, prompted by fears of their place in the new state, are put down with the help of the RAF.

1931

General strike against the Municipal Fees Law which imposes draconian new taxes (three times heavier than before) and for unemployment compensation. Thousands of workers and artisans, including 3,000 petroleum workers, take part and there are clashes with the police. The RAF flies over urban centres to intimidate strikers and their supporters.

1932

Iraq is admitted to the League of Nations, becoming formally independent - although Britain remains in a powerful influence.

1933

The Artisans Association' (a union) organise a month long boycott of the British-owned Baghdad Electric Light and Power Company. After this, unions and workers' organisations are banned and forced underground for the next ten years with their leaders imprisoned.

King Faysal dies and is succeeded by his son Ghazi.

1934

Iraq Petroleum Company begins commercial export of oil from the Kirkuk fields.

1935-36

Sporadic tribal rebellions, mainly in the south of the country. Causes include the government's attempt to introduce conscription (the focus of a revolt by the minority Yazidi community), the dispossession of peasants as tribally-owned lands are placed in private hands, and the decreasing power of tribal leaders. The revolts are crushed by air force bombing and summary executions.

1936-37

General Bakr Sidqi, an admirer of Mussolini installs a military government and launches repression against the left. There are protest strikes throughout the country including at the Iraq Petroleum Company in Kirkuk and at the National Cigarette Factory in Baghdad.

1939

King Ghazi is killed in a car crash. Many Iraqis believe that there has been a conspiracy, as the King had become outspokenly anti-British. During an angry demonstration in Mosul, the British Consul is killed.

1940

Rashid Ali becomes Prime Minister after a coup, at the expense of pro-British politicians. The new government takes a position of neutrality in the Second World War, refusing to support Britain unless it grants independence to British-controlled Syria and Palestine. Links are established with the German government.

1941

British troops land at Basra. The Iraqi government demands that they leave the country. Instead Britain re-invades Iraq and after the thirty days war' restores its supporters to power. During the British occupation, martial law is declared. Arab nationalist leaders are hanged or imprisoned, with up to 1,000 being interned without trial. Despite this, British forces do not intervene when Rashid supporters stage a pogrom in the Jewish area of Baghdad, killing 150 Jews.

1943

Bread strikes prompted by food shortages and prices rises are put down by the police.

1946

Strike by oil workers at the British-controlled Iraq Petroleum Company in Kirkuk demanding higher wages and other benefits. Workers clash with police, and ten are killed when police open fire on a mass meeting on 12 July. The following month there is a strike by oil workers in the Iranian port of Abadan and Britain moves more troops to Basra (near to the Iranian border). The Iraqi government suppresses opposition papers criticising this move, prompting strikes by the printers and railway workers. The cabinet is forced to resign.

1946-47

Strikes and demonstrations against the proposed establishment of the Zionist state of Israel at the expense of the dispossessed Palestinians.

1948

The Iraqi government negotiates a new treaty with Britain which would have extended Britain's say in military policy until 1973. British troops would be withdrawn from Iraqi soil, but would have the right to return in event of war. On January 16, the day after the Treaty is agreed at Portsmouth, police shoot dead four students on a demonstrations against the treaty. This prompts an uprising that becomes known as al-Wathba (the leap). Militant demonstrations and riots spread across the country, directed not just against the proposed Treaty but against bread shortages and rising prices. Several more people are killed a few days later when police open fire on a mass march of railway workers and slum dwellers. On 27 January 300 to 400 people are killed by the police and military as demonstrators erect barricades of burning cars in the street. The cabinet resigns and the Treaty is repudiated.

In May 3,000 workers at IPC's K3 pumping station near Haditha strike for higher wages bringing the station to a halt. After two and a half weeks, the government and IPC cut off supplies of food and water to the strikers, who then decide to march on Baghdad, 250 km away. On what becomes known as the great march' (al-Masira al-Kubra), strikers are fed and sheltered by people in the small towns and villages en route before being arrested at Fallujah, 70 km from Baghdad.

The British military mission is withdrawn from Iraq. Martial law is declared, ostensibly because of the war in Palestine, and demonstrations are banned.

1949

Communist Party leaders are publicly hanged in Baghdad, their bodies left hanging for several hours as a warning to opponents of the regime.

1952

Port workers strike for increased wages, more housing and better working conditions. Strikers take over the Basra generator, cutting off water and electricity in the city. Strikers are killed when police move in.

In October students go on strike over changes in examination rules. The movement spreads to mass riots in most urban centres, known as al-Intifada (the tremor). In Baghdad a police station and the American Information Office are burned to the ground. A military government takes over, declaring martial law. There is a curfew, mass arrests and the banning of some newspapers. 18 demonstrators are killed in military action.

1954

Government decrees permit the Council of Ministers to deport persons convicted of communism, anarchism and working for a foreign government. The police are given new powers to stop meetings.

1956

Egypt nationalises the Suez Canal. Britain, Israel and France launch a military attack on Egypt. The government closes all colleges and secondary schools in Baghdad as huge demonstrations, strikes and riots spread. Two rioters are sentenced to death following clashes with the police in the southern town of al-Havy. Martial law is imposed.

1958

Popular unrest throughout the country, including in Diwaniyah where in June 43 police and an unknown number of demonstrators are killed in a three hour battle.

A month later the "14 July Revolution" brings to an end the old regime. A coup led by members of the Free Officers seizes power, denounces imperialism and proclaims a republic. The royal family are shot. Crowds take to the streets and a number of US businessmen and Jordanian ministers staying at the Baghdad Hotel are killed. People take food from the shops without paying, thinking that money is now obsolete. To prevent the revolution spreading out of their control, the new government imposes a curfew. After a brief power struggle within the new regime, Abd al-Karim Quasim becomes prime minister (as well as commander in chief of the armed forces) and continues to rule with the support of the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP) and other leftists.

Although Islamic influence remains strong, there are public expressions of anti-clericalism including the public burning of the Koran.

Without waiting for Quasim to deliver on his promises of land reform, peasants in the south take matters into their own hands. In al-Kut and al-'Amarah they loot landlords' property, burn down their houses, and destroy accounts and land registers.

Fearing the spread of rebellion throughout the Middle East, the United States sends 14,000 marines to Lebanon. Plans for a joint US/British invasion of Iraq come to nothing because "nobody could be found in Iraq to collaborate with".

1959

Baathists and nationalists form underground anti-communist hit squads, assassinating not just ICP members but other radical workers. By 1961 up to 300 people have been murdered in this way in Baghdad and around 400 in Mosul.

In Mosul, Arab nationalist officers stage an unsuccessful coup against the government, prompted largely by anti-communism. Popular resistance goes beyond suppressing the coup: the rich are attacked and their houses looted. There are similar scenes in Kirkuk where 90 generals, capitalists are landlords are killed in violent clashes ( excesses' later denounced by the ICP).

1960

Quasim cracks down on radical opposition. 6000 militant workers are sacked. Several Communist Party members are sentenced to death after for their role in the Kirkuk clashes. Despite this the ICP leadership continues to support the government, urged on by Moscow.

1961

War breaks out between the government and Kurds lasting intermittently until 1975. In the first year, 500 places are bombed by the Iraqi Air Force and 80,000 people displaced.

Kuwait, under British control since 1899, becomes independent. Iraq stakes a claim that Kuwait should be part of Iraq. Britain responds by sending troops to Kuwait.

1963

Quasim's government is overthrown in a January coup which brings to power the Baathists for the first time. The Arab nationalist Baath party favours the joining together of Iraq, Egypt and Syria in one Arab nation. In the same year, the Baath also come to power in Syria, although the Syrian and Iraqi parties subsequently split.

The Baath strengthen links with the United States, suspected by many of encouraging the coup. During the coup, demonstrators are mown down by tanks, initiating a period of ruthless persecution during which up to 10,000 people are imprisoned, many of them tortured. The CIA help to supply intelligence on communists and radicals to be rounded up. In addition to the 149 officially executed, up to 5000 are killed in the terror, many buried alive in mass graves. The new government continues the war on the Kurds, bombarding them with tanks, artillery and from the air, and bulldozing villages.
In November the Baath are removed from power in another coup by supporters of the Egyptian Arab nationalist, Nasser.

1967

After a split in the Communist Party, a group lead by Aziz al-Hajj launches guerrilla warfare against the state, influenced by Che Guevara and Maoism. There are assassinations of individual capitalists and wide-scale armed confrontations.

1968

The Baath Party power returns to power after a coup in July. It creates a state apparatus systematically dominated by the Baath party that enables it to remain in power for at least the next thirty years.

The Baath militia, the National Guard, crack down on demonstrations and strikes. In November, two strikers are shot dead at a vegetable oil factory near Baghdad, and three are killed on a demonstration to commemorate the Russian Revolution.

1969

The regime begins rounding up suspected communists. The guerrilla movement is defeated, with many of its members tortured to death. Aziz al-Hajj betrays them by recanting on television, subsequently becoming Iraqi ambassador to France.

The air force bombs Kurdish areas, but the military stalemate remains until the following year when Saddam Hussein negotiates an agreement with the Kurdish Democratic Party. In exchange for limited autonomy, the KDP leadership agrees to integrate its peshmerga fighters into the Iraqi army.

1973

The Iraqi oil industry is nationalised.

1974

After pressure from the Soviet Union, the Iraqi Communist Party joins the pro-government National Progressive Front along with the Baath, but the Baath remain in sole control of the state.

War breaks out again in Kurdistan as the agreement with the KDP breaks down. The KDP is deprived of its traditional allies in the CP and the Soviet Union, now supporting the Baath. Instead it seeks and receives aid from the USA and the Shah of Iran. The Baathists launch napalm attacks on the Kurdish towns of Halabja and Kalalze.

1975

The Iraqi military continues bombing civilian areas in Kurdistan, killing 130 at Qala'Duza, 43 in Halabja and 29 in Galala in April.

Iraq negotiates an agreement with Iran, withdrawing help from Iranian Kurds and other anti-Shah forces in return for Iran stopping support to the Iraqi KDP. Iran takes back the military equipment it had given to the KDP, leaving the field open for the Iraqi army to conquer Kurdistan

1978

Wholesale arrests of ICP members it criticises the regime. Twelve are executed for political activity in the army. All non-Baathist political activity in the army (such as reading a political newspaper), or by former members of the armed forces is banned under sentence of death. With universal conscription, this means that all adult males are threatened with death for political activity.

1979

Saddam Hussein becomes president of the republic, having increasingly concentrated power in his hands during the preceding eleven years.

1980

War breaks out between Iraq and the new Iranian regime lead by Ayatollah Khomeni. The conflict centres on border disputes and the prospect of the Islamic revolution spreading to Iraq. Iran shells the Iraqi cities of Khanaqin and Mandali Iraq launches a bombing mission over Tehran.

1982

Popular anti-government uprising in Kurdish areas. The government decrees that deserters from the army (anyone who has gone absent without leave for more than five days) will be executed.

In the southern marsh regions, the Iraqi army launches a massive military operation with the help of heavy artillery, missiles and aircraft to flush out the thousands of deserters and their supporters in the area. Rebels do not only run away from the war, but organise sabotage actions such as blowing up an arsenal near the town of Amara. In the village of Douru armed inhabitants resist the police to prevent house-to-house searches for deserters. At Kasem in the same area armed rebels clash with the military. Villages supporting the rebels are destroyed and their inhabitants massacred.

1984

American support for Iraq in the war is reflected in the restoration of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Iraq has received military planes from France, and missiles from the Soviet Union. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait fund the Iraqi war effort. Western and Eastern blocs are united in a wish to see Iraq curtail the influence of Iran and Islamic fundamentalism.

Jalal al-Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan calls a truce with its troops fighting alongside the Baath.

1985

Start of the "War of the Cities" with Iran and Iraq firing missiles at each other's capitals.

1987

In May there is an uprising in the Kurdish town of Halabja led by the many deserters from the army living in the town. According to one eye witness "the governmental forces were toppled. The people had taken over and the police and army had to go into hiding, only being able to move around in tanks and armoured divisions". Hundreds of people are killed when the rebellion is crushed.

1988

Armed deserters take over the town of Sirwan (near Halabja). The Iraqi air force destroys the town with bombs and rockets. Halabja is bombed by Iran, and then on 13 March the Iraqi government attacks the town with chemical weapons killing at least 5,000 civilians. Poor people attempting to flee the town for Iran before the massacre are stopped from doing so by Kurdish nationalist peshmerga. Throughout this period of insurgency there is widespread suspicion of the Kurdish nationalist parties because of their history of collaboration with the state and their lack of support for working class revolts.

The Americans send a naval force to the Gulf after attacks on oil tankers. It effectively takes the Iraqi side, shooting down an Iranian passenger jet killing nearly 300 people, and attacking Iranian oil platforms, killing another 200. In August Iran and Iraq agree a ceasefire bringing to an end the first Gulf War. The British government secretly agrees to relax controls on arms exports to Iraq.
The history of the 1988 Halabja Massacre

1990

In July, the British government approves the company Matrix Churchill exporting engineering equipment to Iraq, knowing that they are to be used to manufacture shells and missiles. The following month, Iraq invades Kuwait.

1991

In January the US military, with support from Britain and the other 'Coalition Forces' launches Operation Desert Storm, a massive attack on Iraq and its forces in Kuwait. The conflict is less of a war than what John Pilger calls "a one-sided bloodfest". The allied forces suffer only 131 deaths (many of them killed by 'friendly fire'), compared with up to 250,000 Iraqi dead.
The history of the 1990-91 Gulf War
The history of worldwide resistance to the Gulf War

Despite General Norman Schwarzkopf's public statement that the allies will not attack Iraqis in retreat, Iraqi conscripts are slaughtered even after the unconditional withdrawal from Kuwait has begun. The day before the 'war' comes to an end, troops (and civilians) retreating from Kuwait City on the Basra highway are massacred in what US pilots gleefully call a 'duck shoot'. For miles near the Mutla Ridge, the road is filled with charred bodies and tangled wreckage. An eye witness writes that "In many instances the human form has been reduced to nothing more than a shapeless black lump, the colour of coal, the texture of ash" (Stephen Sackur).

Many civilians are also killed, most famously at the Amiriya bunker in Baghdad where hundreds of people sheltering from allied bombs are killed when it receives a direct hit from two missiles.

In February and March, popular uprisings against the Iraqi government spread across the country. It starts at Basra in southern Iraq, where the spark is rebels using a tank to fire at the huge pictures of Saddam Hussein in the city. Inspired by rebellion in the south, people in Kurdish areas join in. Police stations, army bases and other government buildings are wrecked and torched. Shops are looted. Food warehouses are occupied and the food distributed. In Sulliemania in the north, rebels smash up the prison and set all the prisoners free and then storm the secret police HQ where many have been tortured and killed. Baathist officials and secret police are shot. In some areas, self-organised workers' councils (shoras) are set up to run things. They set up their own radio stations, medical posts (to collect blood donations for the hospital), and militia to resist government forces.
The history of the South Iraq and Kurdistan uprisings

In Baghdad itself, there are mass desertions from the main barracks during the war, with officers who try to stop them being shot. Two areas of the city, Al Sourah and Al Sho'ela fall into the effective control of deserters and their supporters.
The history of the mass mutiny of Iraqi forces in the Gulf War

After a brutal repression of the rebellion in the South (made easier by the earlier Allied massacre of mutinous conscripts on the Basra highway), Government forces focus on Kurdistan. They reoccupy Sulliemania in April, but the city is deserted with almost all the inhabitants having fled to the mountains.

The Western media present the uprisings as the work of Kurdish nationalists in the north and Shiite Muslims in the south, but they are in fact mass revolts of the poor. In fact the main Kurdish nationalist parties (the KDP and the PUK) oppose radical aspects of the uprisings and try to destroy the shora movement. True to form they announce a new negotiated agreement with Saddam Hussein soon after the uprisings are crushed.

1991-2003

Although military action ceases, the war on people in Iraq is continued through other means - sanctions. The destruction of water pumping stations and sewage filtration plants by allied bombing is compounded by sanctions which prevent them being repaired. This amounts to germ warfare, as the inevitable consequences are epidemics of dysentery, typhoid and cholera. In 1997, the UN estimates that 1.2 million people, including 750,000 children below the age of five, have died because of the scarcity of food and medicine.

1996

The US launches 27 cruise missiles against Iraq.

1998

In February there is a massive military build up by American and British forces in the Gulf, threatening a new war on Iraq. On this occasion, armed conflict is avoid ed after a last minute deal on UN Weapons Inspectors.

On October 1, Iraqi authorities under the command of Gen. Sabah Farhan al-Duri execute 119 Iraqis and three Egyptians in Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad. Twenty-nine of those killed are members of the armed forces, and fifty had been imprisoned for their participation in the March 1991 uprisings that followed the Gulf War. This mass execution is apparently a continuation of the "prison-cleansing" campaign launched by the government a year earlier which saw an estimated 2500 prisoners executed.

In December, following the expulsion of Weapons Inspectors from Iraq (and during the middle of President Clinton's impeachment crisis) the US launches Operation Desert Fox. Over a four day period, 400 cruise missiles are launched on Iraq, along with 600 air attack sorties. British aircraft also take part in airstrikes. According to Iraq, thousands are killed and wounded in these attacks.

1999

In March Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Sadiq-al Sadr, the most senior Shi'ite religious leader in Iraq, is killed, with the suspicion falling on government agents. A major uprising in Basra is suppressed with hundreds of deaths, many killed in mass executions.

Western military attacks continue, ostensibly against Iraqi air defenses. On April 11, two people are killed when Western warplanes bomb targets in Quadissiya province. On 27 April, four people are killed by US planes near Mosulin in the northern no-fly zone. On May 9, four people are killed in Basra province, including three in a farmer's house in Qurna. On May 12, 12 people are killed in the northern city of Mosul.


Sources
Robert Clough, Labour: a party fit for imperialism (Larkin, London, 1992)
Marion Farouk-Sluglett & Peter Sluglett, Iraq since 1958: from revolution to dictatorship (Tauris, London, 1990).
Lawrence James, The rise and fall of the British Empire (Little, Brown & Co., London, 1994).
Brian MacArthur (ed.), Despatches from the Gulf War (Bloomsbury, London, 1991).
Phebe Marr, The Modern History of Iraq (Longman, Harlow, 1985).
Midnight Notes Collective, Midnight Oil: work, energy, war, 1973-1992 (Autonomedia, New York, 1992).
Peter Nore and Terisa Turner (eds.), Oil and class struggle (Zed, London, 1980).
Richard Norton-Taylor, Mark Lloyd and Stephen Cook, Knee deep in dishonour: the Scott Report and its aftermath (Gollancz, London, 1996)
Stephen Sackur, The Charred Bodies at Mutla Ridge, London Review of Books, 4 April 1991.
Geoff Simons, Iraq: from Sumer to Saddam (Macmillan, London, 1996).
The Kurdish Uprising and Kurdistan's Nationalist Shop Front and its negotiations with the Baathist/Fascist Regime (BM Blob/BM Combustion, London, 1991)
The class struggle in Iraq - an interview with a veteran, Workers Scud, June 1991 (available from Box 15, 138 Kingsland High St, London E8 2NS)
Eye witness in Halabja, Wildcat no.13, 1989 (available from BM Cat, WC1N 3XX)
Ten days that shook Iraq, Wildcat, 1991.
Iran-Iraq: Class war against imperialist war, Wildcat no.10, 1987.
Revolutionary defeatism in Iraq, Communism - Internationalist Communist Group, April 1992.
Whiff of imperialism in the air over Iraq, An Phoblact/Republican News, 5 February 1998.
Marked cards in the Middle East, Fifth Estate, Spring 1991.


Pahlavi dynasty

1921 February - Military commander Reza Khan seizes power.

1926 April - Reza Khan crowned Reza Shah Pahlavi.

1935 - Iran is adopted as the country's official name.

1941 - The Shah's pro-Axis allegiance in World War II leads to the Anglo-Russian occupation of Iran and the deposition of the Shah in favour of his son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

1951 April - Parliament votes to nationalise the oil industry, which is dominated by the British-owned Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. Britain imposes an embargo and a blockade, halting oil exports and hitting the economy. A power struggle between the Shah and nationalist Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq ensues.

1953 August - Prime Minister Mossadeq is overthrown in a coup engineered by the British and US intelligence services. General Fazlollah Zahedi is proclaimed prime minister, and the Shah returns from temporary exile.


2003 March - US-led invasion topples Saddam Hussein's government, marks start of years of violent conflict with different groups competing for power.

2003 July - US-appointed Governing Council meets for first time. Commander of US forces says his troops face low-intensity guerrilla-style war.

2003 August - Suicide truck bomb wrecks UN headquarters in Baghdad, killing UN envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello.

Car bomb in Najaf kills 125 including Shia leader Ayatollah Mohammed Baqr al-Hakim.

2003 December - Saddam Hussein captured in Tikrit.

2004 March - Suicide bombers attack Shia festival-goers in Karbala and Baghdad, killing 140 people.

2004 April-May - Photographic evidence emerges of abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US troops at Abu Ghreib prison in Baghdad.


Historical Achievements

Epic of Gilgamesh, a poem from Mesopotamia, is amongst the earliest surviving works of literature.

Sumerian statuettes depicting theocracy and the bureaucratic system of priesthood

Cuneiform was the earliest writing system.

The Code of Hammurabi, is one of the earliest comprehensive law codes.

Iraq is the birthplace of many significant historical achievements that affect life around the world today, from the earliest known writing system and innovations in irrigation to important agricultural developments like the first wheel and the first seed plow to significant scientific achievements like the division of the circle into 360 degrees and the invention of latitude and longitude in geographical navigation.

A list of some of these achievements includes:

  • sophisticated irrigation systems
  • first cereal agriculture
  • earliest writing system (cuneiform)
  • full syllabic alphabet
  • double entry accounting practices
  • commercial record-keeping
  • the usage of private property
  • the numeral 60 based math system
  • banking
  • recording literature (such as the epic, Gilgamesh)
  • early calendars
  • bureaucratic system of priesthood
  • earliest legal comprehensive code (the Hammurabi Code)
  • the first wheel
  • the first seed plow
  • the first sailboat
  • the division of the circle into 360 degrees
  • the invention of latitude and longitude in geographical navigation
  • the first sophisticated use of medical science
  • algebraic equations and invention of zero

Famous Birthdays

    Omar Pasha [Michael Lats], Croatian governor/viceroy of Bosnia/Iraq Faisal I ibn Hussein ibn Ali, 1st king of Iraq/Syria Ahmad Hassan al-Bakr, Iraqi fieldmarshal and President of Iraq (1968-79), born in Tikrit, Ottoman Empire (d. 1982) Abd al-Karīm Qāsim, Prime Minister of Iraq (1958-63), born in Baghdad, Iraq (d. 1963) Safa Khulusi, Iraqi writer and historian, born in Baghdad (d. 1995) Adnan Pachachi, Iraqi politician Ammo Baba, Iraqi-Assyrian footballer and coach, born in Baghdad, Iraq (d. 2009) Faisal II, King of Iraq (1939-58), son of Ghasi I, born in Baghdad (d. 1958) Tariq Aziz, Iraqi politician and close adviser to Saddam Hussein, born in Tel Keppe, Iraq (d. 2015)

Saddam Hussein

1937-04-28 Saddam Hussein, President of Iraq (1979-2003), born in Al-Awja, Iraq (d. 2006)

    Paulos Faraj Rahho, Iraqi Chaldean Catholic bishop, born in Mosul, Iraq (d. 2008) Massoud Barzani, Iraqi Kurdish politician Patricia Kluge, Baghdad Iraq, wife of Billionaire John Kluge Zaha Hadid, British architect (London Aquatic Centre), born in Baghdad, Iraq (d. 2016) David Petraeus, Commanding General of Multinational Force Iraq (2007-08), born in Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawer, interim President of Iraq Kamaran Abdalla, Iraq/Engl/Neth actor (Goede Tijden Selechte Tijden) Scott Ritter, UN weapons inspector in Iraq Kadim Al Sahir, Iraqi singer-songwriter (Ana Wa Laila - Me and Laila), born in Mosul, Iraq Ahmed Radhi, Iraqi soccer striker (121 caps 62 goals Al-Rasheed Asian Footballer of the Year 1988), born in Baghdad, Iraq (d. 2020) Uday Hussein, Iraqi leader (d. 2003) Melissa Rathburn-Nealy, US soldier (Iraqi POW)

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

1971-07-28 Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Leader of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), born in Samarra, Iraq (d. 2019)

    Faris al-Sultan, German-Iraqi triathlete Kaysar Ridha, Iraqi-American reality TV contestant Michael A. Monsoor, United States Navy SEAL killed in Iraq and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, born in Long Beach, California Noor Sabri, Iraqi footballplayer

USIP’s Work

The U.S. Institute of Peace has worked without interruption in Iraq since 2003 and maintains offices in Baghdad and Erbil. USIP’s initiatives strengthen institutions’ and communities’ capacity to prevent, mitigate, and resolve conflicts without violence. Our key partners, Sanad for Peacebuilding and the Network of Iraqi Facilitators (NIF), have halted violent feuds, saving lives and re-stabilizing communities.

In 2015, USIP and its Iraqi partners conducted dialogues that prevented violence among tribes following the Speicher massacre in which ISIS brutally killed 1,700 Iraqi cadets. In 2017, a similar initiative prevented resurgence of communal violence in the city of Hawija, following its liberation from ISIS.

USIP informs U.S. and Iraqi policy through research and analysis on conflict issues in Iraq, and by convening government officials and nongovernment experts.


The first generation of immigrants from the Middle East began arriving in the late 19th century. They were mostly Christians from the Greater Syria province of the Ottoman Empire, which comprised modern day Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan. Some came to escape religious persecution in the Ottoman Empire, but most came for economic opportunity, as, like most immigrants, they felt that the United States would offer them the opportunity to build a better life. The typical Arab immigrant of that period was young, male, single and Christian. Most were illiterate and spoke little or no English. Many planned to stay in the United States only until they had saved enough money to return home with more money and greater status. Many moved to major cities, like New York, Los Angeles, Detroit and Boston, and became peddlers. Among other things, they peddled religious items, embroidery, baked goods and confectioneries, which were often made by their wives. As it became clearer that women and a family were an economic asset, more men returned to the Middle East to marry and come back to the United States with their wives. Over time, Arab immigrants saved money and invested it in small businesses. As their financial conditions and personal lives became more stable, Arab Americans settled in cities and established communities, which included churches, clubs, societies and publications.

While they spoke Arabic, these early immigrants did not identify as Arabs. The Ottoman Empire was the dominant power in the Middle East during the late 19th Century, and nearly all of the immigrants from the Middle East came with passports and identification papers issued by the Ottoman Empire. The terms “Turk” and “Syrian” were used interchangeably, including on Port of Entry records. As a result, the immigration figures from the Middle East for that period are not particularly accurate, as Armenians, Turks and Arabs were all identified as subjects of the Ottoman Empire. When the Ottoman Empire collapsed, most Arab immigrants began to identify with the region in the Ottoman Empire from which they came, usually Syria or Lebanon.

By the 1920’s, there were an estimated 250,000 Syrians, Lebanese and Palestinians in the United States. Most were engaged in commercial activities, but some worked in the industrial plants of an emergent Detroit, as well as other cities. The community continued to advance economically, with peddlers establishing stores or small manufacturing plants, while importers imported items from the Middle East, ranging from rugs to olives.

During the First World War, immigration from the Middle East dropped, but a second wave of migration began in the 1920s, as relatives of those already living in the United States began to immigrate and, seeing the success of those living in the United States through their remittances back home, new immigrants decided to join them. The second wave of immigrants was different than the first in that it contained a significant number of Muslims.

By the 1950s, Arab immigrants had settled in major cities across the United States. From the 1950s on, a new type of Arab immigrant began arriving – literate, qualified and bilingual. Immigrants in the 1950s and 1960s pursued white collar or professional vocations, or sought educational opportunities. This group was about 70 percent Muslim and came from across the Middle East, particularly Egypt, Palestine, Yemen, Syria, Jordan and Iraq. In the late 1960s, following Palestinian displacement in the wake of the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, a large number of Palestinians emigrated to the United States. Given their unique circumstances, they brought with them a greater ethnic pride and political awareness that would ignite the development of an Arab American identity and spark the community’s political activism in the 1970s and 1980s. Even for some second- and third-generation Arab Americans, who had few remaining attachments to the Middle East and barely spoke Arabic, the ethnic and political consciousness of the new arrivals helped generate a greater awareness of their Arab heritage.

The greater ethnic and political consciousness of the late 1960s and early 1970s became institutionalized in the 1970s and 1980s with the creation of several Arab American organizations, including the Arab American University Graduates, the National Arab American Association, the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and the Arab American Institute, as well as a number of other local, professional and family organizations. These organizations would consolidate and transmit Arab American identify for future generations, promote an accurate and positive image of Arab Americans and protect the rights of Arab Americans. These functions became increasingly necessary, as events in the Middle East, from the oil embargo to hijackings, combined with well organized media campaigns to link Arab Americans with terrorism, made Arabs and Arab Americans increasingly stereotyped and suspect to many Americans.

These functions grew in importance in the 2000s, following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. In the aftermath of that event, Arab Americans were subjected to hate crimes, racial profiling and discrimination. In responding to these circumstances, in the 2000s, Arab Americans became a leading voice in the civil rights community of the United States. They have also become a major force in helping to bridge the chasm of misunderstanding that separates many Arabs and Americans. In pursuing these roles as a community and in contributing to the United States in a myriad of other ways as individual citizens, Arab Americans have become a vital and valuable thread in the beautiful tapestry that is America.

NOTE: Much of the information from this section is drawn from, and can be found in, the Arab American Almanac.

Major Funding for Arab American Stories: A National Discussion and Outreach provided by


Iraq's History: An Interactive Timeline

Experience the history, from the Sumerians to modern-day Iraq through this interactive timeline.

Scroll through to tour a history of Iraq, from the Sumerians to modern day.

Around 4800 BC, Sumerians were the very first people to settle in Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq), marking the emergence of the first human civilization.

The Sumerians were the very first people to settle into Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) around 4800 BC marking the emergence of the first human civilization. Gifted and imaginative, they developed the first known system of writing. The Sumerian language, linguistically separate from any other, has been preserved for us today through the thousands of clay tablets its speakers left behind. Sumerians also invented the wheel, a mathematical system based on the number 60 (the basis of time in the modern world), and a system of banking.

Sumerians developed the first known system of writing, invented the wheel, the basis of time in the modern world and a system of banking.

The Sumerians were the very first people to settle into Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) around 4800 BC marking the emergence of the first human civilization. Gifted and imaginative, they developed the first known system of writing. The Sumerian language, linguistically separate from any other, has been preserved for us today through the thousands of clay tablets its speakers left behind. Sumerians also invented the wheel, a mathematical system based on the number 60 (the basis of time in the modern world), and a system of banking.

Mesopotamia eventually coalesced into two distinct empires: Assyria in the north and Babylonia in the south.

In 2340 BC Sargon of Akkad conquered most of the Sumerian city-states, thus ending Sumer with the rise of the Akkadian Empire, sometimes regarded as the first empire in history. The Akkadians were a Semitic-speaking group who united the Semites and Sumerian speakers under one rule. The Akkadian empire was short-lived and in 2125 BC the empire fell. Mesopotamia eventually coalesced into two distinct empires: Assyria in the north and Babylonia in the south.

Sargon of Akkad conquered most of the Sumerian city-states, ending Sumer with the rise of the Akkadian Empire.

In 2340 BC Sargon of Akkad conquered most of the Sumerian city-states, thus ending Sumer with the rise of the Akkadian Empire, sometimes regarded as the first empire in history. The Akkadians were a Semitic-speaking group who united the Semites and Sumerian speakers under one rule. The Akkadian empire was short-lived and in 2125 BC the empire fell. Mesopotamia eventually coalesced into two distinct empires: Assyria in the north and Babylonia in the south.

The ruins of the city of Babylon are near Hillah, Babil Governorate, Iraq. Above: the Tower of Babel.

The Babylonian Empire ushered in a new era in Mesopotamia after the downfall of the Akkadians. The reign of Hammurabi 1792-1750 BC the sixth King of Babylon is regarded as one of the highlights of ancient Mesopotamian civilization. Hammurabi was the first to develop a code of law, moving justice from the whips of the powerful, to a codified system of regulation applicable to all society. It’s most famous phrase is “an eye for an eye” representing the Babylonian sense of justice.

The Assyrian Empire, named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur (Ashur) was centered in northern Mesopotamia.

The Assyrian Empire, named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur (Ashur) was centered in northern Mesopotamia. The Assyrians were known for their mastery in battle and their penchant for city-building (such as Nineveh and Kalakh) and by the 9th century BC grew to control Mesopotamia and substantial territory in the greater region. In 626 BC, Nabopolasser, the king of Babylonia threw off Assyrian rule and named Babylon the capital of the empire.

Assyrians were known for their mastery in battle and their penchant for city-building (such as Nineveh and Kalakh).

The Assyrian Empire, named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur (Ashur) was centered in northern Mesopotamia. The Assyrians were known for their mastery in battle and their penchant for city-building (such as Nineveh and Kalakh) and by the 9th century BC grew to control Mesopotamia and substantial territory in the greater region. In 626 BC, Nabopolasser, the king of Babylonia threw off Assyrian rule and named Babylon the capital of the empire.

Babylon was made into one of the wonders of the ancient world with the construction of the Gate of Ishtar (eighth gate to the inner city of Babylon).

With the recovery of Babylonian independence under King Nabopolasser, a new era of architectural activity ensued and Babylon was made into one of the wonders of the ancient world with the construction of the Hanging Gardens, the Gate of Ishtar, and the Tower of Babylon.

With the recovery of Babylonian independence under King Nabopolasser, a new era of architectural activity ensued.

With the recovery of Babylonian independence under King Nabopolasser, a new era of architectural activity ensued and Babylon was made into one of the wonders of the ancient world with the construction of the Hanging Gardens, the Gate of Ishtar, and the Tower of Babylon.

In 539 BC, Cyrus the Great rode through the Gate of Ishtar to conquer the Babylonian people.

The Babylonians are defeated by Cyrus the Great of the Achaemenid Empire (539 BC), and Mesopotamia would later become subject to subsequent conquests by Alexander the Great (331 BC), the Romans under Trajan, the Parthian empire in the 3rd century BC, and the Sassanid dynasty in the 3rd through 7th centuries AD.

Thousands of Persian soldiers followed Cyrus the Great through the Ishtar Gate.

The Babylonians are defeated by Cyrus the Great of the Achaemenid Empire (539 BC), and Mesopotamia would later become subject to subsequent conquests by Alexander the Great (331 BC), the Romans under Trajan, the Parthian empire in the 3rd century BC, and the Sassanid dynasty in the 3rd through 7th centuries AD.

Arabs were the first people to call the country "Iraq" meaning "the fertile."

The region of Mesopotamia came under Arab influence in 636 AD and it was the Arabs who were first to call the country “Iraq” meaning “the fertile”. Under the Rashidun Caliphate, Ali ibn Abi Talib, moved his capital from Medinah to the city of Kufa when he became the fourth Caliph.

In an effort to restore a non-violent atmosphere in Kufa, Ali ibn Abi Talib shifted the capital from Medina to Kufa.

The region of Mesopotamia came under Arab influence in 636 AD and it was the Arabs who were first to call the country “Iraq” meaning “the fertile”. Under the Rashidun Caliphate, Ali ibn Abi Talib, moved his capital from Medinah to the city of Kufa when he became the fourth Caliph.

The construction of Baghdad was commissioned in the year 762 Baghdad became the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate in the 8th century.

The second Abbasid Caliph Abu Jaafar Al Mansur commissioned the construction of Baghdad which became the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate in the 8th century. During the period beginning in the mid-8th century and lasting until the Mongol conquest of Baghdad in the mid-13th century, the city became a great center of civilizations at the crux of economic and informational trade routes. Universities were established, science, math, philosophy, and medicine flourished, and literature reached its height.

Baghdad became a center for learning and a hub for economic and informational trade routes.

The second Abbasid Caliph Abu Jaafar Al Mansur commissioned the construction of Baghdad which became the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate in the 8th century. During the period beginning in the mid-8th century and lasting until the Mongol conquest of Baghdad in the mid-13th century, the city became a great center of civilizations at the crux of economic and informational trade routes. Universities were established, science, math, philosophy, and medicine flourished, and literature reached its height.

Ottoman rule lasted until the end of World War I, when Iraq was divided into three provinces: Baghdad, Mosul and Basra.

During the 14th and 15th centuries, the Black Sheep and White Sheep Turkmen ruled Iraq. In the 16th century, most of the territory of present-day Iraq came under the control of the Ottoman Empire with the exception of a sixteen year insurrection by the Safavid’s starting in 1622. Ottoman rule lasted until the end of World War I, throughout which Iraq was divided into three provinces, Baghdad, Mosul, and Basra.

In 1921, Faisal I was proclaimed King of Iraq and in 1945, Iraq joined the United Nations and became a founding member of the Arab League.

In 1920, the Treaty of Sevres established Iraq as a mandate of the League of Nations under British administration, and in 1921 Faisal I was proclaimed King of Iraq. The British mandate was terminated in 1932 and Iraq was admitted to the League of Nations. In 1945, Iraq joined the United Nations and became a founding member of the Arab League. The Hashemite monarchy ruled Iraq until 1958 when it was overthrown by a coup d’état by members of the Iraqi Army.

Faisal I was a member of the Hashemite dynasty which ruled Iraq until 1958.

In 1920, the Treaty of Sevres established Iraq as a mandate of the League of Nations under British administration, and in 1921 Faisal I was proclaimed King of Iraq. The British mandate was terminated in 1932 and Iraq was admitted to the League of Nations. In 1945, Iraq joined the United Nations and became a founding member of the Arab League. The Hashemite monarchy ruled Iraq until 1958 when it was overthrown by a coup d’état by members of the Iraqi Army.

Soldiers in trenches in southern Iraq during devastating wars.

Through the structure of the Ba’ath, Saddam Hussein rose to the presidency in 1979. The country existed under autocratic leadership until 2003 when Hussein was deposed. Between 1979 and 2003, Iraq underwent multiple wars—the Iraq-Iran war 1980-1988 and the Gulf war in 1991 followed by a decade of economic sanctions and isolation.

The opening session of Iraq's Transitional National Assembly, the first freely elected parliament in half a century, marked a milestone on the road to forming a new government.

In March 2003, a coalition led by the United States ousted Saddam Hussein from power through military force. In 2005, Iraqis held their first national election through which a National Assembly was elected and a Transitional Government was approved by the Assembly. Additionally, Iraqis approved a constitution in a national referendum, thus making the transition to Iraq’s first constitutional government in half a century.

Elections for a Council of Representatives.

Iraq held a national legislative election of 325 representatives in 2010 the elected Council of Representatives approved a new government in December 2012. A year later, the last remaining US military forces withdrew from the country, marking the end of US operations in Iraq.

Iraqi women show off their fingers, stained with purple ink, after they vote.

Iraq held a national legislative election of 325 representatives in 2010 the elected Council of Representatives approved a new government in December 2012. A year later, the last remaining US military forces withdrew from the country, marking the end of US operations in Iraq.

Iraq approved a new government in December 2012.

Iraq held a national legislative election of 325 representatives in 2010 the elected Council of Representatives approved a new government in December 2012. A year later, the last remaining US military forces withdrew from the country, marking the end of US operations in Iraq.


Torah code reveals dates of 3 major events in recent history

The majority of the following Torah Code was discovered in April 20󈧘 by the Director of Ask Noah International. The code extends over three consecutive verses in Moses’ prophetic Song at the Sea (Exodus 15:1-18). The three verses are Exodus 15:9-11.

The following diagram depicts the Hebrew letters (with their vowel and cantillation signs, as Hebrew is read from right to left) of these three verses, arranged in a grid that is 30 letters wide. The code letters are indicated in the solid-color squares.

Code for the first event and date – Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 19󈨞

This is coded in verse 15:9, which is outlined above in orange. I first learned of this code in the winter of 19󈨞, from Rabbi Dr. Abraham J. Twerski o.b.m., who was the President of my synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA. My understanding is that he discovered this code, but I have not verified that.

English translation: The enemy said: ‘I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil my lust shall be satisfied upon them I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them.’

Hebrew text: אָ מַ֥ר א וֹיֵ֛ב אֶ רְדֹּ֥ף אַ שִּׂ֖יג אֲ חַלֵּ֣ק שָׁ לָ֑ל תִּ מְלָאֵ֣מוֹ נַ פְשִׁ֔י אָרִ֣יק חַרְבִּ֔י תּֽוֹרִישֵׁ֖מוֹ יָדִֽי

As we go from right to left in the Hebrew, there are eight highlighted letters, which are all initial letters of consecutive words in the verse. These form the date of a year in the Hebrew calendar. First, the letter aleph (א) is repeated five times. The letter aleph stands for the Hebrew word eleph, which means “thousand”, so this letter repeated five times can be understood as the number 5000. The next three letters are ש (numerical value 300), ת (numerical value 400) and נ (numerical value 50), which add up to 750. We thus have a code for the Hebrew year 5750, which overlapped the secular year 19󈨞.

The next consecutive word is אָרִ֣יק (arik), the letters of which can also be pronounced as irak, which is cognate with the name Iraq. This prophesies that there will be an event in the year 5750 involving the nation of Iraq. And in fact, Iraq invaded Kuwait on 2 August 19󈨞, corresponding to the 11th of Menachem Av, 5750. Obviously, this verse itself echoes the theme of that event!

Code for the second event and date – the Indian Ocean tsunami in 20󈧈

This code which I discovered (shortly after discovering the code below) is rooted in verse 15:10, which is outlined above in green.

English translation: You blew with Your wind, the sea covered them they sank like lead in the powerful waters.

Hebrew text: נָשַׁ֥פְתָּ בְרֽוּחֲךָ֖ כִּ סָּ֣ מ וֹ יָ֑ם צָֽלֲלוּ֙ כַּֽעוֹפֶ֔רֶת בְּמַ֖יִם אַדִּירִֽים

The two highlighted letters occur in the world that means “covered”. In the diagram above, these are letters in two strings of Hebrew letters that that run vertically, highlighted in yellow, through the preceding and following verses, with a spacing of 30 letters. The first string is the word מים (mayim), which means water. The letters in the second string can be rearranged as תשסה, in which the letters are the numerical equivalent for the Hebrew year 5765: ת (numerical value 400), ש (numerical value 300), ס (numerical value 60) and ה (numerical value 5) add up to 765, and in writing the year in Hebrew, the thousand’s place is always omitted as being implicit.

This prophesies that there will be an event in the year 5765 involving water. And in fact, the Indian Ocean tsunami occurred on December 26, 20󈧈, corresponding to the 14th of Tevet, 5765. Obviously, this verse itself echoes the theme of that event!

The meaning of the spacing of 30 letters becomes evident from the next code.

Code for the third event and date – the Corona Virus which became pandemic in 20󈧘

This code which I discovered in March 20󈧘 is rooted in verse 15:11, which is outlined above in red.

English translation: Who is like You among the powerful, O L-rd? Who is like You, powerful in the holy place? Too awesome for praises, performing wonders!

Hebrew text: מִֽי כָמֹ֤כָה בָּֽאֵלִם֙ יְהֹוָ֔ה מִ֥י כָּמֹ֖ כָ ה נֶאְדָּ֣ ר בַּקֹּ֑דֶשׁ נ וֹרָ֥א תְ הִ לֹּ֖ת עֹ֥שֵׂה פֶֽלֶא

The highlighted letters are a code with a spacing of 5 letters. It forms a word כרנה which can be pronounced as corona. There is a classic targum (translation) of scripture in which this word is used with the meaning of “illness”. The fact that the verse of this code is connected to the verse of the first code above, through an intermediate code with a spacing of 30 letters, can now be understood as a prophesy that there will be an event involving corona/illness in 20󈧘/5780, 30 years after the event involving Iraq in 19󈨞/5750. The word נוֹרָ֥א (norah = awesome) can also be translated as “terrible,” “dire,” “fearful,” or “shocking”. So obviously, this verse itself echoes the theme of that event!

What is the lesson for us?

The Jewish kabbalistic tradition teaches that the Five Books of Moses (the “Written Torah” that G-d dictated to Moses) existed in G-d’s wisdom before He made the creation, and that He “looked into the Torah and made the creation”. In other words, everything that would happen in the course of history was already pre-planned and coded within the text of the Torah by G-d, so that the Torah served as the blueprint for creation. Many hundreds of Torah codes for events, names and dates in history have been discovered in recent decades by computer analysis. Some can be found by visual inspection, as in the three connected cases above.

But of what use is it to us to discover codes in the Torah for events in history, after those events have occurred? It should convince us (or boost our inspiration if we were are already convinced) to know the Torah is Divine and could only have been composed by G-d Himself, and therefore it is true, its commandments are true (the 613 Jewish Commandments and the Seven Noahide Commandments), and its explicit prophecies in the verses themselves are true. These include the prophecies of the immanent coming of Moshiach (the Messiah) and the Final Redemption which are enumerated by Rambam in Laws of Kings, chapter 11. And in this Song at the Sea, the literal translation of “Az yashir Moshe” in the first verse (15:1) is, “Then Moses will sing …,” which the Sages of the Talmud identified as a prophecy of the future Resurrection of the Dead.