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Mesopotamia as a civilization no longer exists. This people flourished mainly in the area we now know as Iraq. Located in the Middle East, the country shares borders with Turkey to the north, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to the south, Syria to the northwest, Jordan to the west and Iran to the east.

Interestingly, and although we have been traditionally taught the western world is the direct heir of Greco Roman civilization, our culture actually originated in this territory so deeply convulsed nowadays. Even today, the legacy of ancient Mesopotamia is still very impressive. Here is where the advent of agriculture and livestock raising made mankind’s transition to sedentarism possible. Its main contributions were new technologies such as pottery and metallurgy; math and other sciences; writing, which very quickly became the best means for the spread of knowledge; the monarchy, a form of government still in use today; and a life and organization model that has survived to this day: the city.

A country under threat

Iraq is a relatively new country with a history stretching back to 1932, the year when the British rule came to an end and the nation emerged as an independent state. In 1958, a revolt overthrew the monarchy and in 1979 a new social movement brought Saddam Hussein to power. His arrival, however, fueled the problems: after an 8-year war against neighboring Iran, Iraq was left in a deep economic crisis, so, in a move to increase the country’s oil reserves, Hussein decided to invade Kuwait in late 1990. The occupation derived in the First Gulf War (1991), where a coalition led by the United States ultimately defeated Hussein.
After the conflict, the United Nations (UN) levied a severe embargo on Iraq’s chemical and biological arsenal as well as its nuclear projects.

But in 1998 Hussein halted the UN’s inspection program, an act to which the United States and the United Kingdom responded with new bombing raids. In 2003, president George W. Bush insisted on a «regime change in Iraq» and urged Hussein to leave the country. Hussein rejected the ultimatum, so Baghdad was bombarded on March 20, thus sparking the Second Gulf War.
At present, Hussein is being tried on seven charges of Crimes Against Humanity.

Humanitarian SOS

Unfortunately, the war resulted in a serious humanitarian crisis. Studies conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN and several non-governmental organizations (NGO) estimate the number of civilian and military casualties -whether directly or indirectly linked to the intervention- in approximately 500,000.

In addition, several statistics indicate that millions have suffered from the lack of medicines, water and food supplies, because the intense bombings on the main Iraqi cities have hindered the delivery of the promised help or simply shut it off altogether.

Cultural crimes

Most of Mesopotamia’s cultural heritage once kept in the main museums and Baghdad’s National Library was ruthlessly looted during the war. Specialists agree this has been the worst historical crime attributable to the Bush Administration. At least 80% of the more than 170,000 artifacts of the National Museum of Antiquities in Baghdad are thought to have been stolen or destroyed.
Some of the museum’s most valuable losses are the Hammurabi Code tablets, the world’s first written code of laws, and some cuneiform texts that represent the oldest examples of writing.

A coveted land

Just like in ancient times, the international community has a special interest in this part of the world, which it has called the «Great Game of the 21st Century». The reason lies in the area’s enormous oil reserves, second only to Saudi Arabia’s, which make it a key spot for the world’s economy.

The US needs all the oil it can get, so this explains its great interest in having a stable and hopefully allied Iraq. Besides, it is a good place to watch over the Middle East, Iran and Afghanistan, and to «warn» Russia it will not have a green light into Central Asia.

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