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The last time Iraq was free of foreign interference was during the Abbasids—even then it was short lived

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It is perfectly reasonable for Iraqi nationalists and patriots to demand that their country be free of foreign interference and patronage. This has been most vocalised in relation to corrupt governance amid increased political influence from neighbouring Iran but also perceptions of Iraq as a client state of the US. While these grievances are understandable, whether it is actually plausible for Iraq to be "free" is another thing altogether. This is so, because uncomfortable as it may sound, since its modern history as a nation-state, Iraq has never really been an independent country.

In fact, one would have to go as far back in pre-modern history to the Abbasid caliphate (750 CE-1258 CE) based in the region corresponding to "Iraq" which was truly autonomous. However, even the Abbasid rulers were eventually reduced to being symbolic powers in name only, with real authority ceding to dominant regional emirs and viziers such as the Persian Buyids and the Seljuk Turks, the consequence of the Abbasid decline starting from the mid-ninth century.

After a series of invasions and dynastic rulers, from the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries Iraq and especially Baghdad would change hands between the rival Ottoman and Safavid empires and would in effect serve as a buffer zone between the respective Sunni and Shia powers of the Middle East. When the Ottomans recaptured Baghdad and most of Iraq from the Safavids for the second time in 1638, it would never again be under Persian control, remaining under Ottoman control until it fell under British governance in 1918 during the breakup of the Ottoman Empire in the aftermath of the First World War. The last century therefore, represented a hiatus from the historical pattern of Turkish and Iranian competition for pre-eminence in Iraq.

Sign on the right: No America, No Erdogan, No Saudi, No Iran, No Baath, No Barzan, No to Israeli intelligence outlets peddling fake secularism"#IraqProtests #Iraq........

© Middle East Monitor

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