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April 2014

Iraq: Country Profile

Iraq: Country Profile

On April 30, 2014, Iraq is scheduled to hold elections. The president is elected by the Council of Representatives (parliament) to serve a four-year term (eligible for a second term). President Jalal Talabani was reelected in 2010. Nuri al-Maliki is the current Prime Minister. Iraq has a unicameral form of government with the Council of Representatives comprising 325 seats; 8 seats are reserved for minority representation. The highest court, Federal Supreme Court, consists of 9 judges.

Formerly part of the Ottoman Empire, Iraq was occupied by Britain during the course of World War I; in 1920, it was declared a League of Nations mandate under UK administration. In stages over the next dozen years, Iraq attained its independence as a kingdom in 1932. A "republic" was proclaimed in 1958. Territorial disputes with Iran led to an inconclusive and costly eight-year war (1980-88). In August 1990, Iraq seized Kuwait but was expelled by US-led, UN coalition forces during the Gulf War of January-February 1991.

Following Kuwait's liberation, the UN Security Council (UNSC) required Iraq to scrap all weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles and to allow UN verification inspections. Continued Iraqi noncompliance with UNSC resolutions over a period of 12 years led to the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and the ouster of the Saddam Husayn regime. US forces remained in Iraq under a UNSC mandate through 2009 and under a bilateral security agreement thereafter. US military operations there ended in mid-December 2011.

In October 2005, Iraqis approved a constitution in a national referendum and, pursuant to this document, elected a 275-member Council of Representatives (COR) in December 2005. The COR approved most cabinet ministers in May 2006, marking the transition to Iraq's first constitutional government in nearly a half century. Iraq held a national legislative election in March 2010 - choosing 325 legislators in an expanded COR - and, after nine months of deadlock the COR approved the new government in December 2010.

Iraq has a climate that is mostly desert, with mild-cool winters and dry, hot, cloudless summers. The northern mountainous regions along the Iranian and Turkish borders experience cold winters with occasionally heavy snows that melt in early spring. The terrain is mostly broad plains and reedy marshes along the Iranian border in the south, including large flooded areas; it is mountainous along the borders with Iran and Turkey. Iraq's natural resources include: petroleum, natural gas, phosphates, and sulfur. Natural hazards facing Iraq include dust storms, sand storms, and floods.

CIA World Factbook, 3/2014

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