31,129,225 (July 2012 est.)
GDP PER CAPITA
$3,900 (2011 est.)
Muslim (official) 97% (Shia 60%-65%, Sunni 32%-37%), Christian or other 3% note: while there has been voluntary relocation of many Christian families to northern Iraq, recent reporting indicates that the overall Christian population may have dropped by as much as 50 percent since the fall of the Saddam HUSSEIN regime in 2003, with many fleeing to Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon
Over its long history, Iraq has been both a center of cosmopolitan civilization and a site of sectarian conflict. Baghdad was the intellectual capital of the Muslim world during the Islamic Golden Age between the 8th and 13th centuries. During much of its history, it hosted a vibrant and religiously diverse population, including substantial numbers of Jews and Christians. By the late 18th century, the majority of the population had converted from Sunni to Shi’a Islam, creating a sectarian divide that persists to this day. The Arab Sunni minority exerted political dominance under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein (1979-2003), with Hussein persecuting Shi’as and the Kurds of northern Iraq. Since U.S.-led forces ousted Hussein in a 2003 invasion, Shi’as and Sunnis have vied for control through both electoral competition and violence. Iraq’s Constitution establishes Islam as the official religion of the democratic state and requires that no law contradict Islam. Religious freedom is also guaranteed, though sectarian violence effectively restricts its exercise, particularly for minority faiths.
July 25, 2011
In Jordan, the vast majority of the population is considered Arab. Unlike the Gulf states, there are no masses of foreign workers brought in from abroad to work in technical positions or manual labor. Nor do Arabs in Jordan share the land with another historical population, like the Kurds of Iraq and Syria or the Berbers of Arab North Africa. Jordan has some South Asian maids and Western expatriate professionals, but both communities are very small and incidental to the make-up of the broader...
March 30, 2011
For this post, I’ll step back briefly into a former major (IPOL/Security) and a former life (last semester in Turkey) to offer a few comments on the situation unfolding in the Middle East today, specifically in Libya. In a previous article, I argued that the “Jasmine Revolution” then happening in Tunisia and Egypt was something that should be cheered and encouraged by the United States. President Obama did eventually come out in support of the Egyptian people and demanded Hosni Mubarak step...
March 23, 2011
On February 17th of this year, Belgium surpassed Iraq as the longest standing country without a functioning government. Students, former government employees, and everyday citizens alike took to the streets to protest their political leaders’ continued failure to create a coalition government for the deeply divided country. Students at my host university, the French-speaking Université Libre de Bruxelles (or the Free University of Brussels), and the Dutch-speaking Vrije Universiteit Brussel...
February 4, 2011
Like too many of its neighboring (largely Arab) governments, the Egyptian regime has long been amongst the most repressive and democratically backward in the world. As anyone who has been even cursorily glancing at any serious front page(s) lately should know, President (for life) Hosni Mubarak's regime has been keeping a tight lid on the country for 30 years and pursuing the so-called kleptocratic practices that we in the U.S. so often decry in Russians and assume are inherent in Arabs....