Background Note: Iraq

Background information on Iraq from the U.S. Department of State.

psu logo edited Backgrounder on Iraq: History

Background information about the history Iraq.

psu logo edited Backgrounder on Iraq: Wars

Background information about recent wars in Iraq.

Battles – The Mesopotamian Front

This section of contains details of the major actions fought on the Mesopotamian Front – present-day Iraq – during the First World War.

Country Studies

The Library of Congress Country Studies include extensive information about all Middle Eastern countries, including historical overviews as well as information about government structure, economics, and demographics.

Specific countries can’t be bookmarked, so follow the link above and select the country of interest.

Ethno-Religious Minorities in Iraq

Information about religious minorities living in Iraq.

Iran Iraq War

A short history of the Iran-Iraq war.

Iraq Country Profile

The BBC’s overview of Iraq.

Iraq Fact Sheet

A quick fact sheet providing clear information about Iraq.

Iraq Facts and Figures

Iraq facts and figures from the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center

Iraq in Perspective

This resource from the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center offers a country profile section containing basic facts about the target country, followed by selected themes organized under the major headings of Geography, History, Economy, Society and Security.

Iraqi Cultural Orientation

Cultural Orientations from the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center offer an engaging introduction to a given cultural group. Linguists and non-linguists alike will benefit from these interactive materials and pertinent language exchanges that are coupled with an objective and practical look at daily life in different contexts. Topics include religion, traditions, family life and differences in the lifestyles of urban and rural populations.

psu logo edited Jews of Baghdad: Background Info

A brief history of the Jews of Baghdad and resources for further reading.

Reading List: Iran, Iraq and Palestine

Suggested books about Iran, Iraq, and Palestine.

Saddam Hussein’s Rise to Power

This special report from the BBC outlines Saddam Hussein’s rise to power.

Struggle for Iraq

Facts and figures about the war in Iraq.

Three Books to Better Understand Iraq

In this new series, World Literature Today asks distinguished authors to recommend books about specific subjects within their area of expertise. In this installment, we’ve asked Iraqi writer Weam Namou to offer three books to which readers should turn for a better understanding of Iraq today. From the Mosul-based blogs of a modern-day Anne Frank to the memoirs and poetry of writers living in exile, Namou’s choices go beyond one-dimensional media images to delve deeper into Iraq’s recent history.

Al-Monitor Pulse: Iraq (text)

Al-Monitor Pulse: Iraq offers  original reporting and analysis by prominent journalists and experts from the Middle East about Iraq

Baghdad Twist (video)

Featuring a unique collection of archival images, home movies and family photographs from Iraq, Baghdad Twist is a short film that pulls back the curtain on Iraq’s once thriving Jewish community. Baghdad-born filmmaker Joe Balass takes us on a journey through the fragmented memories of an Arab exile. This powerful collage forms a portrait of a time and place that no longer exists.

Iraq News (text)

Current news about Iraq from the New York Times.

Iraqi Jewish Archive (multimedia)

Jews have lived in Iraq for thousands of years, but when coalition forces entered Baghdad in May 2003 only very few remained. A U.S. Army team searching for weapons of mass destruction in the flooded basement of the Mukhabarat, the headquarters of Saddam Hussein’s intelligence services, discovered over 2,700 Jewish books and tens of thousands of documents. The remarkable survival of this written record of Iraqi Jewish life provides an unexpected opportunity to better understand this community. The National Archives is preserving these books and documents and making them accessible worldwide.

Jadaliyya: Iraq (text)

A collection of articles about Iraq posted on Jadaliyya

Memories of Eden (video)

This blog tells the story of Jews in Iraq from the daughter of  Violett Shamash, a Jewish women growing up in interwar Iraq.  Check out the 10 minute video, When Baghdad Was Beautiful.

National Iraqi News Agency (text)

English language Iraqi news paper.

Understanding Iraq – Resources from America Abroad (multimedia)

This collection of multimedia resources from America Abroad provides a historical review of Iraq, a look at contemporary Iraq, and a lens on Iraqi culture.

psu logo edited 100 Years in Mesopotamia: A Century of Conflict in Iraq, 1914-2014

This two-week unit plan was created for 9th grade Modern World History. In this lesson, students will analyze the effect of World War I on present day Iraq and consider the larger question, “How did WWI and its aftermath shape conflict in the Middle East today?”

Alike and Different: The Middle East and the United States

This lesson will ask students to examine the similarities and differences between the Middle East and their own city, state, and country. Students will practice basic map skills by examining maps of the Middle East at National Geographic’s Hot Spot: Iraq Web site and maps of their own region, looking for similar features: rivers, lakes, cities, marshes, etc. They will look at a map of Baghdad and compare it to a map of their own city, a city they have visited, or any major U.S. city. Finally, they will fill in and label their own blank outline maps of the Middle East region and the United States.

psu logo edited Baghdad High

Americans know little of life in Baghdad outside of war and violence.  This lesson aims to show students a different side of life in Baghdad by exploring the life of four teenagers during their senior year of high school.  American students will consider the challenges of life in a war zone—but also the similarities of life in high school.

psu logo edited Cafe Baghdad: Curriculum

This pack of resources is designed to guide teachers through a series of lessons and discussions about a variety of topics, all stemming from a lesson about the Iraqi Jewish experience. Teachers are encouraged to select ideas and activities from the collection that are applicable to their students, their curriculum, and their environment.

Daily Life in the Middle East

This lesson will ask students to focus on the people of Iraq . They will think critically about what the media delivers, why it focuses so heavily on war coverage, and how this may contribute to skewed views of Iraq and its people. Students will explore Iraq’s rich cultural history and read online articles or print publications about daily life in Iraq. Finally, in small groups, they will study further one aspect of daily life in Iraq (or another country in the Middle East) and create presentations for the rest of the class.

Iraq in Transition

A collection of lesson plans addressing various elements of Iraq’s post-war transition.

Media Construction of the Middle East

These four teaching-ready units (which include teacher guides, student handouts, overviews, and assessments) presented by Ithaca College explore the representation of the Middle East in the Media.  The units include: (1) Introducing the Middle East; (2) Israel/Palestine: Histories in Conflict; (3) War in Iraq: Whose Voice, Whose Story?; (4) Militant Muslims and the US.

Oil and Water in the Middle East Region

In this lesson, students will explore the roles of oil and water in the Middle East, especially in Iraq. Students will use maps to look at the distribution of oil in the Middle East and discuss what it means for the different countries in the region. They will also examine how water has influenced the region historically (in the “fertile crescent” region between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers) and politically (for example, how Iraq’s access to water is limited to one small part of its border). Finally, they will study specific aspects of Iraq’s struggles with water, using satellite imagery to understand and illustrate the problem.

Seeking a Home Away from Home: Exploring the Plight of Refugees from Iraq and Beyond

Using segments from the PBS program: Wide Angle: Iraqi Exodus, students learn about refugee crises throughout history. In the Introductory Activity, students explore terms such as “refugees” and “internally displaced persons” and examine which countries currently supply and host the greatest number of refugees. In the Learning Activities, students explore the Iraqi refugee crisis and the challenges faced by both refugees and host countries. Students also explore UN and US policies towards refugees. In the Culminating Activity, students conduct research about a refugee population from the past and explore the roles organizations and governments have played in refugee crises.

Teaching with the News: The Costs of War

In this lesson, students explore the human, economic, social, and political costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Teaching With the News: The Iraqi Refugee Crisis

This lesson plan teaches the causes and scope of Iraqi refugee crisis.

Teaching With the News: The Lessons of Iraq

In this lesson plan, students compare and analyze various texts stating the many lessons we can learn from the war in Iraq.

The Iraq War: 10 Years Later

In this lesson from PBS Newshour Extra, students will get an overview of the Iraq War and discuss views and knowledge of the Iraq War

US Foreign Policy with Iraq

This lesson looks back at the history of U.S. relations with Iraq In order to better understand U.S. objectives today. The lesson asks students to focus on critical choice points in U.S. policies on Iraq. By attempting to predict U.S. policy choices, students will not only understand what happened in the history which has led us to today’s crisis, but also understand that there were real possibilities of creating a different policy.

Expect that the students will be disturbed to learn much of this information which has been omitted or overlooked in the typical portrayals of U.S. Iraqi relations. Help students understand this history and to become critical without developing a generalized cynicism.