Jim Iversen


Arabian Peninsula, World War I, family history, medicine


Recent world events have spawned renewed interest in the people and history of the Middle Eastern country known as Iraq. For many centuries the people and territories of what was known as Mesopotamia were part of the Ottoman Empire, which was ruled by the Sultan of Constantinople from the city now called Istanbul. Iraq did not become a separate country until the Ottoman Empire ceased to exist shortly after the "Great War," eventually called the First World War. The history of the area is complicated, but Iraq became a country essentially because the Western Allies, that is, Great Britain, France, Italy and Russia were able to achieve most of their desires about the Middle East during the years following the end of the First World War in 1918. During the time that the Arabic-speaking people of the Arabian Peninsula were a part of the Ottoman Empire, they were ruled by the Turkish-speaking people in the northern part of the Empire. It wasn't until the years after the First World War that Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and Saudi Arabia became separate and independent states. Before the War started, however, the island of Bahrein and the area called Kuwait were already British protectorates, so the West had considerable influence in the region, and that influence increased after the First World War.