CIWS: IRAQ: NATION OF MINORITIES

Created: 5/19/1960

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

Tht email eitmpncns lar Ihls Htumtnl an mini1

CONriPEWTIAL-

copy no.&^

oci 90

Current Intelligence Weekly Summary

CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY

OFFICE OF CURRENT INTELLIGENCE

MOT RFIP FHRFIPN MftTir.Nftl.fr COMIINUED CONIROL

" FDR RELEASE

DATE:0

CURRENT INTELLIGENCE WEEKLY SUMMARY0

PART III PATTERNS AND PERSPECTIVES

IRAQ: NATION OF . . . . Page 7

Although Iraq is overwhelmingly Moslem in religion and largely Arabic in culture, Its population is composed of numerous mutually antagonistic groups, including Arabs, Kurds. Turkmans, YenidIs, Assyrians, Sunnl and Sblaand Christians. The long history of minorityadded to the Instability of the presentgovernment, could lead to widespread disordersew attempt be made to overthrow Qasln. ^iHlHlBMBMJJJJJJBM|

PART IV

OTHER INTELLIGENCE ISSUANCES Pulbished during the week0

-SECRET -

vll

TBE WEEK IN BRIEF

IRAQ: NATION OF MINORITIES

institutions and ethnic differences play arole in shaping the life and outlook of Iraq's population. Although overercent ofeople adhere at least nominally to Islam, the State religion, sectarian and ethnic differences made theation of minorities,

Each of Iraq's numerous religious groups, both Moslom and otherwise, has its own religious laws,habits, and traditions. The religious community system, which gives itsense of cohesion, at the same time nourishes antipathies and social differences, which act as forces for separatism within the

PART III

PATTERNS AND PERSPECTIVES

f 12

FOR RELEASE

0

CURRENT INTELLIGENCE WEEKLY BDmmARY0

framework of the Iraqi state.

Under the monarchy these forces were for the most part suppressed. Iraq's minorities have bitter memories of the Assyrian massacresnd Kurdish uprisingss well as numerous tribal uprisings. Since8 revolution,between the variousbave increased with the continuing Instability of the revolutionary regime.

The Arab Moslems are basir-caliy divided into the twoand Shias, each with its own shrines,and even religious law courts.

Sunni Moslems

The Sunni Moslems areof Arabs, Kurds, and Tur^-tomans whose sole meeting groundommon religion. The Sunni religious community has no priesthood or religious hlerachy which might serve to unify its members, although thereumber of religious offices for dealing with and guiding Sunni spiritual life. The Sunnis are "orthodox" Moslems who claim to stand for the original simplicity of Islam. They regard thesupplemented by theof the Prophet Mohammad as the sole and sufficientof the Moslem faith.

The Sunni Arabs,dominant since the time of the Ottoman Empire, regardas superior to their Kurdish and Turkomansts. The Arabs of thend inhabit the Western half of the country. The nomadic Arab Bedouin tribes are mainly Sunnla.

Iraq'surds are concentrated along the northeastern borders withand Iran. They speak various dialects of Kurdish, an Indo-European language distantlyto Persian. Dour and somewhat fatalistic, they are noted for their warlike behavior and despise the Arabs. Their social organisation is based on tribe and clan,urdish leader In modernso-calledbeenoly man or the headamily renowned for itsratherribal chief.

Although the Kurds axe often stereotypedingle cohesive element, tribal rivalries keep them in almost constant turmoil. The most important tribes are the Babans, Barzinjls, Baradostis,

SECRET

cod has bet maierii the CIA requesi trie cop

Zlbarls, and Barzanla. The Zibaris and Barzanla areat odds with each other, and the Iraqi security forces are attempting: to umpire the fighting.

It Is doubtful that the Kurds could be unified into an effective force. Dreamsurdish state carved out of parts of Turkey, Iraq, and Iran nevertheless are still nurtured by many Kurds, who have been encouraged by Soviet propaganda and agents. However, Hulla leader of the Barzanla *ho returned from refuge In the Soviet Union withollowers after8 Iraqi revolution, has followed aof supporting the Qaslm

Qaslm has sought toKurdish participation in the Iraqi Government and cultural autonomy by suchas the foundingurdishedical school in the Kurdish center of Mosul, and broadcasts in Kurdish over Radio Baghdad. Qaslm's emphasis on Arab unity and the brotherhood of Arabs and Kurds has disturbed many Kurdish leaders, who fear being engulfedarger Arab mass.

Tbe Turkomans, numbering, are village and town dwellers also living in the northeastern part of theand are descendants of the pre-Ottoman Turkish invaders of Iraq. Speakingialect of Turkish, manyhave been governmentsince Ottoman times, while many others are small shopkeepers. During the Klrkuk disturbances ofany Turkoman shops were burned and their owners killed by Commu-nlst-led mobs. Politically the Turkomans look towardhowever, they too have been the object of Qaslm's

Shla Moslems

Iraq's Shla population isunnl Arabs and Kurds together. They are mostlyand are concentrated in southeastern Iraq. The split between the Sunnls and Shlas began in the first century of Islam; the Sunnls called for an electedof thethe Shlasa hereditary succession through tho Prophet Mohammed's son-in-law All. Shla Islamthe state religion of Persia inh century, and Persian cultural influence has been strong among tho Shlas of Iraq ever since.

Tbe gulf between the Shlas and their Sunni compatriots Is deepenedumber of strange Shlapassion play each year commemorating the death

of All, their cult of saints, practice of temporary marriages, and the concept that someast "Hidden Imam" willto rule tho world and give his faithful adherents their due.

Shla resentment of the Sunnls is especially strong In the predominantly Shla areas around Diwanlya and Naslrlya, centers of unrest during periods of political or economic crises. The influence of religiousamong the Shlas is much stronger than among the Sunnls. The mujtahids, earthlyof tho Hidden Imam, guide their followers in all aspects of life and havethroughout the Shla communities. The more revered mujtahids reside in Karbala and especially Najaf; they can, when they wish, exercisepolitical Influence.

It is these divines who

have aroused the greatestamong the Shlas toof the Qaslm regime which they considered pro-Communist.

SECRET

They have encouraged theirto attack known Iranian Influence in Najaf and Karbala is strong; these cities are the most centers of Shlaafter Mecca, andof Iranians visit and study there every year.

In the southern Iraqiare found the nominally Shia marsh dwellers called the Ma-dan, aa Arabic term synonymous with yokel. In the eastern part of the country are0 Lurs, Shlas whoialect of Persian. Claimed as Kurds by Kurdish nationalists, the Lurs are not politically conscious.

Heterodox Moslem Sects

Id some districts of the Assyrian plains and foothills, several obscure Moslem sects exist. Among the moreof these are the 3arlis, Shabaks, and Kakals, allKurdish dialects. Another group la the Qlzilbash (Redho have many adherents among Turkoman villagers. Moslems, they revere the Virgin Mary, and practiceabsolution, and

The Christians

Iraqi Christiana areinhabitants, except for the majority of Assyrians and some Armenians. Most speak Arabic in addition to their community language and mix freely with their Moslem The principal Christian sects are Jacobites, Nestorlans, Chaldeans, Armenian Orthodox and Catholics, Greek Orthodox, and Protestants.

The Jacobites areof the Monophyslteorganized in Syria and Mesopotamia in the 6th century. They are presumed to number fewer, located principally in the plainof Mosul.

The Nestorlans, who arereferred to as Assyrians, date from 5th century divisions in the early Christian church. Theyittleuring the period of the British mandate, they were formedpecial military guard group known as the Assyrian Levies, which was used in suppressing Kurdish revolts. Following the disbanding of the Leviesension arose between theand the Iraqi Government.3 the Iraqi Army carriederies of massacres In which hundreds of Nestorlans were killed, and many emigrated to the Jazlra section ofSyria. They have never become reconciled to living under Moslem domination.

Forming the largestchurch in Iraq, the Chal-

ASSYRIANS

deans are Uniates, havingpapal supremacy inh century in order to secure French protection. haldeans are mostly peasants residing in villages on the Mosul plain; their native language is Syriac.

Iraq's Armenians, bothand Catholic, are mostly urban dwellers and recentin Iraq, having migrated from Turkey following World War I. Estimates of their number

SECRET

FOR RELEASE

0

CURRENT INTELLIGENCE WEEKLY StWOARY0

fro* as lowo While relations with their neighbors aregood, they resist Theyarge part of Iraq's body of professional and artisan classes, especially as mechanics in the oil fields.

Minor Groups

0 Yezldls, who live almost entirely in the Mosul area, are often called "devilut this is inaccurate. They regard Satan, whom they never mention by name,allen angel who will someday be reconciled with God, and thoy take considerable

The Yezldlsaolal as welleligious minority,probably of Kurdish origin. In times of trouble, they side with tbelr Kurdish neighbors. Despised by the majority of Iraqis and at the bottom of the social scale, they haveless in the country'sthan any other Their taboo on pronouncing the soundecause It existi in the word for Satan, hastheir education. Since the revolution, they have sided with the Oasla regime and have cooperated with the Kurds In fighting the Bedouin Shammar tribesmen.

III

AND PERSPECTIVES

f 13

SECRET

The

an rial has bee

rt mint d.

This

malarial

maybe

vie.vcil in

Ihe CIA

Reading

Ream or

requested

directly

Ircmihe

copyright

holder.

characteristic is the importance they place on baptism and frequent ceremonial ablutions, for which reason they always live near fresh water. They are urban dwellers scattered among the towns south of theyighas silversmiths and boat-builders.

Although most of tbe Iraqi Jewish community emigrated to Israel,0 remain, mostly in Baghdad. Their lack of numbers has made them politically Most are engaged

in commerce and banking.

Minorities as Political Force

Iraq's inchoate national symbols and traditions derive largely from Arab Islamicand ideals. However, the influence of groups havingties In neighboringdisrupts the growtheal Iraqi nationalism. Kurds look to their compatriots in Turkey, Iran, and Russia,on tbe internal Iraqi situation. Christians identify themselves with Christian groups In other Arab countries. belonging to larger tribal federations often seekfrom outside their frontiers to further their Interests. Differences in religion, language, culture, and ethnic origin are accentuated by the religioussystem.

Age-old antagonisms lie

Just beneath the Incidents which would pass almostin tbe West often spark violence such as the Turkomen massacreshe perennial KurdishKurdish-Arab tribal raids, and Sunni-Shla rivalries.

These factors add to the already increasing strains resulting from thebetween Communist andelements, economic depression, agrarian subversive efforts bypowers, internal political maneuvering, and near end in widespread insurrection

and civil war

rip should slip.

if.

SECRET

Original document.

Comment about this article or add new information about this topic:

CAPTCHA