The Republic of Iraq is a Middle Eastern country in southwestern Asia encompassing the ancient region of Mesopotamia at the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers and also including the southern Kurdistan. It shares borders with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to the south, Jordan to the west, Syria to the north-west, Turkey to the north, and Iran to the east. It has a very narrow section of coastline at Umm Qasr on the Persian Gulf. A new transitional government was elected in January 2005, following the March 2003 invasion led by American and British forces which drove the former leader Saddam Hussein and his Ba'ath Party from power. However, the legality of the invasion has been disputed by the United Nations Secretary General and politicians in both the USA and the UK (as reported by BBC news, CNN, The New York Times, The Economist).
Modern Iraq became a British mandate (the British League of Nations Trust Territory of Iraq) at the end of World War I and was granted independence from British control in 1932.
It was formed out of three former Ottoman Willayats (regions): Mosul, Baghdad and Basra. The British installed Hashemite monarchy lasted until 1958, when it was overthrown by one of a series of coups, the last of which in 1968 brought the Arab Socialist Bath Party to power. The Ba'ath's key figure became Saddam Hussein who acceded to the presidency and control of the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), Iraq's supreme executive decision making body, in July 1979, killing off many of his opponents in the process. Saddam's absolute and particularly bloody rule lasted throughout the Iran-Iraq War (1980–1988), which ended in stalemate; the al-Anfal campaign of the late 1980s, which led to the alleged gassing of thousands of Kurds in northern Iraq, Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990 resulting in the Gulf War and the United Nations-imposed economic sanctions and no-fly zones which followed. The American-led 2003 invasion of Iraq removed Saddam Hussein's Government from power, replacing it with an interim American-backed Provisional Authority, and then an interim government. On January 30, 2005, Iraq held new legislative elections, changing the political face of Iraq, which had been mostly dominated by its Sunni minority since its foundation. A coalition of Kurds and Shi'ites came to power (both groups were repressed by Saddam's government), although the Sunnis are now under-represented due to the fact that Sunni leaders encouraged them not to vote. The current situation remains volatile while the new government attempts to re-establish security in the country.