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|Nickname(s): Venice of the Middle East|
|Coordinates: 30°30′N 47°49′E / 30.5°N 47.817°E / 30.5; 47.817|
|Dr. Khelaf Abdul Samad|
|181 km2 (70 sq mi)|
|2,009,767 (Est.), or 952,441|
|+ 964 40|
Basra (Arabic: البصرة; BGN: Al Baṣrah) is the capital of Basra Governorate, in southern Iraq near Kuwait and Iran. It had an estimated population of 952,441 as of 2007, and 2,009,767 as of 2012. Basra is also Iraq's main port, although it does not have deep water access, which is handled at the port of Umm Qasr.
The city is part of the historic location of Sumer, the home of Sinbad the Sailor, and a proposed location of the Garden of Eden. It played an important role in early Islamic history and was built in 636 CE or 14 AH. It is Iraq's second largest and most populous city after Baghdad. Basra is consistently one of the hottest cities on the planet, with summer temperatures regularly at least 45 degrees celsius.
The city was called by many names throughout its history, Basrah being the most common. Although some Chaldean Christians argue that the name has Akkadian roots, other sources claim that the name is derived from the Persian word Bas-rah, which means "where many paths meet". During the pre-Islamic era, the area was known to the Arabs as al-Khariba due to the existence of an ancient city called al-Kharba. After the present city was built, it was called by many names, including "the mother of Iraq", "the reservoir of Arabs", "the prosperous city", and "al-Faiha".Mnawi Basha HotelA Canal in Basra circa 1950 History Ancient timesShanasheel of the old part of Basra city, 1954
The present city was founded in 636 as an encampment and garrison for the Arab tribesmen constituting the armies of amir Omar ibn al-Khattab, a few kilometres south of the present city, where a tell still marks its site. While defeating the Sassanid forces there, the Muslim commander Utbah ibn Ghazwan erected his camp on the site of an old Persian settlement called Vaheštābād Ardašīr, which was destroyed by the Arabs. The name Al-Basrah, which in Arabic means "the over watching" or "the seeing everything", was given to it because of its role as a military base against the Sassanid Empire. However, other sources claim the name originates from the Persian word Bas-rāh or Bassorāh meaning "where many ways come together".
In 639 Omar established this encampment as a city with five districts, and appointed Abu-Musa al-Asha'ari as its first governor. Abu Musa led the conquest of Khuzestan from 639 to 642 and was ordered by Umar to aid Uthman ibn Abu al-`As, then fighting Iran from a new, more easterly misr at Tawwaj. In 650, Emir Uthman reorganised the Persian frontier, installed Abdallah ibn Amir as Basra's governor, and put the military's southern wing under Basra's control. Ibn Amir led his forces to their final victory over Yazdegard III, the King of Persia. In 656, Uthman was murdered and Ali ibn Abu Talib was appointed Khalifa. Ali first installed Uthman ibn Hanif as Basra's governor, who was followed by Abd Allah ibn Abbas. These men held the city for Ali until the latter's death in 661.
The Sufyanids held Basra until Yazid I's death in 683. The Sufyanids' first governor was Umayyad Abd Allah, a renowned military leader, commanding fealty and financial demands from Karballah, but poor governor. In 664, Mu'awiyah replaced him with Ziyad ibn Abu Sufyan, often called "Ibn Abihi" ("son of his own father"), who became infamous for draconian rules of public order. On Ziyad's death in 673, his son Ubayd-Allah ibn Ziyad became governor. In 680, Yazid I ordered Ubayd Allah to keep order in Kufa as a reaction to Imam Hussein ibn Ali's popularity as the grandson of the Prophet Mohammad. Ubayd-Allah took over the control of Kufa, Imam Hussein, who wanted to restore the principles of Islam, sent his cousin as an ambassador to the people of Kufa, but Ubayd Allah executed Hussein's cousin Muslim ibn Aqeel amid fears of an uprising. Ubayd-Allah amassed an army of thousands of soldiers and fought Iman Hussein ibn Ali's army of approximately 70 in a land called Karbala near Kufa. Ubayd-Allah's army emerged victorious. Imam Hussein and his militia were killed and their heads were sent to Yazid as proof.
Ibn al-Harith spent his year in office trying to put down Nafi' ibn al-Azraq's Kharijite uprising in Khuzestan. According to Islamic tradition, Ibn al-Harith was feckless abroad and corrupt at home, yet is praised for his religious beliefs and practices. In 685, Ibn al-Zubayr, requiring a practical ruler, appointed Umar ibn Ubayd Allah ibn Ma'mar Finally, Ibn al-Zubayr appointed his own brother Mus'ab. In 686, the self-proclaimed prophet Al-Mukhtar led an insurrection at Kufa, and put an end to Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad near Mosul. In 687, Mus`ab defeated Mukhtar with the help of Kufans whom Mukhtar exiled.
Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan reconquered Basra in 691, and Basra remained loyal to his governor al-Hajjaj during Ibn Ash'ath's mutiny 699–702. However, Basra did support the rebellion of Yazid ibn al-Muhallab against Yazid II during the 720s. In the 740s, Basra fell to al-Saffah of the Abbasids.
During the time of the Abbasid dynasty Basra became an intellectual centre as it was the home city of the Arab universal genius Ibn al-Haytham, the Arab literary giant al-Jahiz, and the Sufi mystic Rabia Basri. The Zanj Rebellion by the agricultural slaves of the lowlands affected the area. In 871, the Zanj sacked Basra. In 923, the Qarmatians, an extremist Muslim sect, invaded and devastated Basra. In 965, Alhazen was born in Basra. From 945 to 1055, a Buwayhid dynasty ruled Baghdad and most of Iraq. Abu al Qasim al Baridis, who still controlled Basra and Wasit, were defeated and their lands taken by the Buyids in 947.
Sanad Al-Daula (al-habashi) was the governor of Basra and built a library of 15,000 books. Diya' al-Dawla was the Buyid ruler of Basra during the 980s. He was the son of 'Adud al-Dawla: see Samsam al-Dawla page for more details as there appears to have been a great deal of rivalry in the al-Daula group.Basra at night Middle Ages
The Great Friday Mosque was constructed in Basra. In 1122, Imad ad-Din Zengi received Basra as a fief. In 1126, Zengi suppressed a revolt and in 1129, Dabis looted the Basra state treasury. A 1200 map "on the eve of the Mongol invasions" shows the Abbasid Caliphate as ruling lower Iraq and, presumably, Basra. In 1258, the Mongols under Hulegu Khan sacked Baghdad and ended Abbasid rule. By some accounts, Basra capitulated to the Mongols to avoid a massacre. The Mamluk Bahri dynasty map (1250–1382) shows Basra as being under their area of control, and the Mongol Dominions map (1300–1405) shows Basra as being under their control.
In 1290 fighting erupted at the Persian Gulf port of Basra among the Genoese, between the Guelph and the Ghibelline factions. In 1327, Ibn Battuta visited Basra, which was in decline with the great mosque being 2 miles (3.2 km) out of town. An Ilkhanid governor received him. In 1411, the Jalayirid leader was ousted from Basra by the Black Sheep Turkmen. In 1523, the Portuguese under the command of António Tenreiro crossed from Aleppo to Basra. By 1546, the Turks had reached Basra. In 1550, the Portuguese threatened Basra. In 1624, the Portuguese assisted Basra Pasha in repelling a Persian invasion. The Portuguese were granted a share of customs and freedom from tolls. From about 1625 until 1668, Basra and the Delta marshlands were in the hands of local chieftains independent of the Ottoman administration at Baghdad.Ottoman Empire See also: Basra Eyalet and Basra Vilayet
Basra was, for a long time, a flourishing commercial and cultural centre. It was captured by the Ottoman Empire in 1668. It was fought over by Turks and Persians and was the scene of repeated attempts at resistance.
In 1911, the Encyclopædia Britannica reported some Jews and a few Christians living in Basra, but no Turks other than Ottoman officials. The wealthiest and most influential personage in Basra was the nakib, or marshal of the nobility (i.e. descendants of the family of Muhammad, who are entitled to wear the green turban). In 1884 the Ottomans responded to local pressure from the Shi'as of the south by detaching the southern districts of the Baghdad vilayet and creating a new vilayet of Basra.World Wars
After the Battle of Basra (1914) during World War I, the occupying British modernized the port (works designed by Sir George Buchanan); these British commercial interests made it one of the most important ports in the Gulf "with shipping and trade links to the Far East."
During World War II it was an important port through which flowed much of the equipment and supplies sent to Russia by the other allies. At the end of the Second World War, the population was some 93,000 people.Post 1945
The University of Basrah was founded in 1964. By 1977, the population had risen to a peak population of some 1.5 million. The population declined during the Iran–Iraq War, being under 900,000 in the late 1980s, possibly reaching a low point of just over 400,000 during the worst of the war. The city was repeatedly shelled by Iran and was the site of many fierce battles, such as Operation Ramadan and Operation Karbala 5.
After the first Persian Gulf War, which the US called Operation Desert Storm, in 1991, a rebellion struck Basra. The widespread revolt was against Saddam Hussein who violently put down the rebellion, with much death and destruction inflicted on Basra.1999: Second revolt
On 25 January 1999, Basra was the scene of scores of civilian casualties when a missile fired by a US warplane was dropped in a civilian area. Eleven persons were killed and fifty-nine injured. General Anthony Zinni, then commander of US forces in the Persian Gulf, acknowledged that it was possible that "a missile may have been errant". While such casualty numbers pale in comparison to later events, the bombing occurred one day after Arab foreign ministers, meeting in Egypt, refused to condemn four days of air strikes against Iraq in December 1998. This was described by Iraqi information minister Human Abdel-Khaliq as giving the United States and Britain "an Arab green card" to attack Iraq.
A second revolt in 1999 led to mass executions in and around Basra. Subsequently the Iraqi government deliberately neglected the city, and much commerce was diverted to Umm Qasr. These alleged abuses are to feature amongst the charges against the former regime to be considered by the Iraq Special Tribunal set up by the Iraq Interim Government following the 2003 invasion.
Workers in Basra's oil industry have been involved in extensive organization and labour conflict. They held a two-day strike in August 2003, and formed the nucleus of the independent General Union of Oil Employees (GUOE) in June 2004. The union held a one-day strike in July 2005, and publicly opposes plans for privatizing the industry.2003: Iraq War and occupation Main article: Battle of Basra (2003)
In March through to May 2003, the outskirts of Basra were the scene of some of the heaviest fighting in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. British forces, led by the 7th Armoured Brigade, took the city on 6 April 2003. This city was the first stop for the United States and the United Kingdom during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
On 21 April 2004, a series of bomb blasts ripped through the city, killing 74 people. The Multi-National Division (South-East), under British Command, is engaged in Security and Stabilization missions in Basra Governorate and surrounding areas. Political groups and their ideology which are strong in Basra are reported to have close links with political parties already in power in the Iraqi government, despite opposition from Iraqi Sunnis and the more secular Kurds. January 2005 elections saw several radical politicians gain office, supported by religious parties. American journalist Steven Vincent, who had been researching and reporting on corruption and militia activity in the city, was kidnapped and killed on 2 August 2005.
On 19 September 2005, two undercover British SAS soldiers disguised in Arab civilian clothes and headdresses opened fire on Iraqi police officers after having been stopped at a roadblock, killing at least one. It was reported that they planned to explode the car they were driving in the city. After being arrested, the British Army raided the jail they were being held in to rescue them, killing several people from among their nominal allies – the Iraqi security forces.
British troops transferred control of Basra province to the Iraqi authorities in 2007, four-and-a-half years after the invasion. A BBC survey of local residents finds that 86% think the presence of British troops since 2003 has had an overall negative effect on the province.
Abdul Jalil Khalaf was appointed Police Chief by the central government with the task of taking on the militias. He has been outspoken against the targeting of women by the militias. Talking to the BBC, he said that his determination to tackle the militia has led to almost daily assassination attempts. This has been taken as sign that he is serious in opposing the militias.2008 Main article: Battle of Basra (2008)
In March 2008, the Iraqi Army launched a major offensive, code-named Saulat al-Fursan (Charge of the White Knights), aimed at forcing the Mahdi Army out of Basra. The assault was planned by Gen Mohan Furaiji and approved by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
In April 2008, following the failure to disarm militant groups, both Maj-Gen Abdul Jalil Khalaf and Gen Mohan Furaiji are removed from their positions in Basra.
On 11 September 2008, during a routine tour of Basra, captain Rogers Johnson found up to 200 malnourished and disease-stricken Iraqi detainees locked in a secret prison in Basra. The commission’s spokesman, Amer Thamer, stated that many of the detainees bore signs of torture. The prison is operated by the Defense Ministry, and none of the inmates have ever been tried or given access to legal assistance. Thamer said that the 200 prisoners only had access to one flooded and dirty latrine, and the commission has demanded the authorities shut down the prison immediately.Geography and climate
Basra is located on the Shatt-Al-Arab waterway, downstream of which is the Persian Gulf. The Shatt-Al-Arab and Basra waterways define the eastern and western borders of Basra, respectively. The city is penetrated by a complex network of canals and streams; vital for irrigation and other agricultural use. These canals were once used to transport goods and people throughout the city, but during the last 2 decades, pollution and a continuous drop in water levels have made river navigation impossible in the canals. Basra is 110 km away from the Persian Gulf.
Basra has a hot desert climate (Köppen climate classification BWh), like the rest of the surrounding region, though it receives slightly more precipitation than inland locations due to its location near the coast. During the summer months, from June to August, Basra is consistently one of the hottest cities on the planet, regularly exceeding 45 °C (113 °F) and may approach 50 °C (122 °F) during July. During the winter, Basra experiences mild weather with average high temperatures around 20 °C (68 °F). In few winter nights, minimum temperature lows below 0 °C (32 °F). High humidity is common due to the proximity to the marshy Persian Gulf (may exceed 90%).
|27 (81)||31 (88)||35 (95)||41 (106)||46 (115)||52 (126)||51 (124)||50 (122)||47 (117)||46 (115)||37 (99)||29 (84)||52 (126)|
|18 (64)||20 (68)||24 (75)||29 (84)||35 (95)||38 (100)||40 (104)||41 (106)||39 (102)||34 (93)||27 (81)||21 (70)||30.4 (86.7)|
|7 (45)||9 (48)||13 (55)||17 (63)||24 (75)||27 (81)||27 (81)||26 (79)||22 (72)||18 (64)||14 (57)||9 (48)||17.8 (64.0)|
|−4 (25)||−2 (28)||2 (36)||8 (46)||9 (48)||21 (70)||22 (72)||20 (68)||14 (57)||7 (45)||3 (37)||−2 (28)||−4 (25)|
|36 (1.42)||28 (1.1)||31 (1.22)||31 (1.22)||5 (0.2)||0 (0)||0 (0)||0 (0)||0 (0)||0 (0)||36 (1.42)||20.0 (0.787)||182 (7.17)|
|Source: BBC Weather|
The city is located along the Shatt al-Arab waterway near the Arab Gulf , 55 kilometers (34 mi) from the Persian Gulf and 545 kilometers (339 mi) from Baghdad, Iraq's capital and largest city.
The area surrounding Basra has substantial large petroleum resources and many oil wells. The city also has an international airport, with service into Baghdad with Iraqi Airways—the national airline. Basra is in a fertile agricultural region, with major products including rice, maize corn, barley, pearl millet, wheat, dates, and livestock. Iraq has the world's 4th largest oil reserves estimated to be more 115 billion barrels (18.3×10^9 m3), most of it from Basra. 80% of Basra's oil potential is unexplored. A network of canals flowed through the city, giving it the nickname "The Venice of the Middle East." The tides at Basra fall by about 2.7 meters (8.9 ft). For a long time, Basra was known for the superior quality of its dates.Demographics
In Basra the vast majority of the population are ethnic Arabs of the Adnanite or the Qahtanite tribes. The main tribes located in Basra are Al-Emarah, Bani Tamim, Bani Assad, Bani Ka'ab, Bani Malik, Shammar, Bani Khalid, Bani Sa'ad, Al-shwelat `Anizzah, Suwa'id, Al-bo Mohammed, Al-Jboor, Duwasir, Dhufair, Shreefat, Al-Badr, Al-Ubadi, Ruba'ah Sayyid tribes (descendants of the Islamic prophet Muhammed) and hundreds of other Arab tribes.
In 2006, Muslim adherents were about 85% Shiite and 15% Sunni,. A small number of Chaldean Christians also live there. There are remnants of the pre-Islamic gnostic sect of Mandaeans, whose headquarters were in the area formerly called Suk esh-Sheikh, with a small community of 3000 people or less. Basra is also home to a minority of Afro-Iraqi peoples.CityscapeShatt Al-ArabAli Bin Abi Talib mosqueOld Basrah
The city's economy is largely dependent on the oil industry. Some of Iraq's largest oil fields are located in the province, and most of Iraq's oil exports leave from Al Basrah Oil Terminal. The South Oil Company has its headquarters in the city.
Substantial economic activity in Basrah is centered around the petrochemical industry, which includes the Southern Fertilizer Company and The State Company for Petrochemical Industries. The Southern Fertilizer Company produces ammonia solution, urea and nitrogen gas, while the SCPI focus on such products as ethylene, caustic/chlorine, vinyl chlorine monomer (VCM), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), low-density polyethylene, and high-density polyethylene
Basra was known in the 1960s for its sugar market, a fact that figured heavily in the English contract law remoteness of damages case The Heron II 1 AC 350.
Shipping, logistics and transport are also major industries in Basra. Basra is home to all of Iraq’s six ports; Umm Qasr is the main deep-water port with 22 platforms, some of which are dedicated to specific goods (such as sulfur, seeds, lubricant oil, etc.) The other five ports are smaller in scale and more narrowly specialized. Fishing was an important business before the oil boom.In religion
The city of al-Basrah is named in one of the hadith, or sayings of Muhammad:Narrated Anas ibn Malik: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: The people will establish cities, Anas, and one of them will be called al-Basrah or al-Busayrah. If you should pass by it or enter it, avoid its salt-marshes, its Kall, its market, and the gate of its commanders, and keep to its environs, for the earth will swallow some people up, pelting rain will fall and earthquakes will take place in it, and there will be people who will spend the night in it and become apes and swine in the morning. In fiction