Ancient Mesopotamia was settled and conquered by a number of ancient civilisations, including the Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians, Assyrians and Chaldeans. Nebuchadnezzar II was a ruler of Babylon during the Chaldean Dynasty, he is mentioned in the Bible, constructed the Hanging Gardens of Babylon (one of the seven wonders of the world) and conquered Judah and Jerusalem. Various invaders conquered the land after Nebuchadnezzar's death, including Cyrus the Great in 539 BC, Alexander the Great in 331 BC and it was under Greek rule for two centuries under the Seleucid dynasty.
They were followed by an Iranian tribe named the Parthians who annexed the region, then the Sassanid Persians, with the Arab Muslims took control of the area in the seventh century. During the 1500s the region was controlled by the Ottoman Empire, this lasted until the outbreak of World War One when the Ottomans allied themselves with Germany. Britain invaded the country, capturing Baghdad in 1917, Iraq was carved out of the Ottoman Empire and Britain was given it's mandate.
Britain supported the traditional Sunni leadership over the burgeoning urban based nationalist movement, the mandate officially ended in 1932. The British installed Hashemite monarchy was overthrown in 1958, Brigadier Abd al-Karim Qasim led a new government which proclaimed Iraq a republic. Qasim was assassinated in 1963 when the Ba'ath Party took power under the leadership of General Ahmed Hasan al-Bakr and Colonel Abdul Salam Arif, nine months later Abd as-Salam Muhammad 'Arif led a successful coup, though the Ba'ath Party re-took power after the 1967 Six Day War. In July 1979 Saddam Hussein assumed power, starting a costly eight year war with neighbouring Iran which devastated the economy.
Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, when Saddam refused to withdraw, the Gulf War began with a US led invasion of Kuwait. Economic sanctions were imposed upon Iraq. In 2001, the US government began to call for regime change in Iraq, in March 2003 the US and UK with military aid from other nations invaded Iraq.
Russell Shortt is a travel consultant with Exploring Ireland, the leading specialists in customised, private escorted tours, escorted coach tours and independent self drive tours of Ireland. Article source: Russell Shortt, http://www.exploringireland.net