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Baghdad History - 20th century

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20th century

Baghdad and southern Iraq were once again brought under Ottoman rule in 1638 and remained so until 1917 when captured by the British during World War I. From 1920, Baghdad became the capital of the British Mandate of Mesopotamia and, after 1932, Baghdad was the capital of the Kingdom of Iraq. Iraq was given formal independence in 1932 and increased autonomy in 1946. The city's population grew from an estimated 145,000 in 1900 to 580,000 in 1950 of which 140,000 were Jewish. In the 1920s, Baghdad was 40 percent Jewish. Jews made up the largest single community in the city and controlled up to 95 per cent of business.

On 1 April, 1941 members of the "Golden Square" and Rashid Ali staged a coup in Baghdad. Rashid Ali installed a pro-German and pro-Italian government to replace the pro-British government of Regent Abdul Ilah. On 31 May, after the resulting Anglo-Iraqi War and after Rashid Ali and his government had fled, the Mayor of Baghdad surrendered to British and Commonwealth forces.

On 14 July 1958, members of the Iraqi Army under Abdul Karim Kassem staged a coup to topple the Kingdom of Iraq. King Faisal II, former Prime Minister Nuri al-Said, former Regent Prince Abdul Ilah, members of the royal family, and others were brutally killed during the coup. Many of the victim's bodies were then dragged through the streets of Baghdad.

During the 1970s, Baghdad experienced a period of prosperity and growth because of a sharp increase in the price of petroleum, Iraq's main export. New infrastructure including modern sewerage, water, and highway facilities were built during this period. However, the Iran–Iraq War of the 1980s was a difficult time for the city, as money was diverted by Saddam Hussein to the army and thousands of residents were killed. Iran launched a number of missile attacks against Baghdad.

In 1991 and 2003, the Gulf War and the 2003 invasion of Iraq caused additional damage to Baghdad's transportation, power, and sanitary infrastructure as the US-led coalition forces launched massive aerial assaults in the city in the two wars.


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