TODAY marks the 91st anniversary of Iraq’s independence – with the date itself chosen as a neutral day for a divided country.

Iraqis did not have a national day from the US -led invasion in 2003 until 2020 when the government selected a date so the “public can celebrate Iraq”.

"Finally, Iraq will have a national day and the public can celebrate because since 2003 we have not had a day to celebrate Iraq," Jaber Al Jaberi, a member of parliament, told local media.

Al Jaberi said that prior to 2003, Iraq’s national day was associated with intra-Iraq political changes – the overthrow of the monarchy and, later, the establishment of the Ba'ath party.

July 14 to mark the 1958 revolution, and July 17 to celebrate the Ba'ath Party were both celebrated prior to  2003.

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Now, October 3, the day already observed in Iraq for when the country gained independence from Britain in 1932 and became the 57th member of the League of Nations has become their national day and a public holiday.

It was chosen for its neutrality in a country that, in the last century, has had nine flags, five national anthems, 10 constitutions, and countless controversial national days.

New Lines Institute called this “a historical process that tells the story of Iraq’s lost national identity”.

So how did Iraq get lost?

As a post-Ottoman state, Iraq was granted under a mandate by the League of Nations to the UK to govern the nation in 1920. Britian had already seized Iraq from Ottoman Turkey during World War I.

For 17 years, Britain ruled over the Arab nation – however, forces battled for over a decade to pacify the country, using airplanes, armoured cars, firebombs and mustard gas.

Later, the country was more often than not embroiled in war, used by superpower nations for resources and position in the Arab peninsula, as well as by their own leaders for their own gains.

What was it all for? Well, mostly oil.

A monarchy was organised under British protection in 1921, an Anglo-Iraqi treaty signed in 1922, and oil deal signed in 1925 all exemplified British control.

The oil agreement granted Iraq token royalties from any future oil revenues but denied the state a share in the Turkish Petroleum Company, dominated by the British.

Said Aburish, a writer on Arab affairs and former consultant to the Iraqi government, described the deal: “The agreement between the British and Iraq regarding the rights to the oil of the country is one of the most criminal documents I have ever read in my life. It is aimed at keeping Iraq in the dark ages.”

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In 1927, oil began to flow and as King Faisal I attempted to forge an identity for Iraq, Britian could see its power waning.

The negotiated independence in 1932, but not without protecting their oil and military bases in the country.

The National: Nahr Bin Umar oil field, north of Basra, Iraq

Iraq was responsible for its own defence, but Britain’s air bases and the right to move troops through Iraq in the event of war remained. Britain would also train the Iraqi military and supply it with equipment.

The King, appointed by Britian and who had attempted to walk the line between the UK and Iraq, recognised his own failure to forge a common Iraqi identity and died while seeking medical treatment in Switzerland in 1933.

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The Second World War began and as countries took sides, Iraq rebelled against the pro-British regency to support Germany.

Britian once again entered the country, appointed politicians sympathetic to their control and quelled the rebellion to secure their own pipeline of resources.

It wasn’t until 1958 that the monarchy was overthrown, leading to 10 years of coups and instability. A darkness overcame the country, with the establishment of the Ba'ath Party and the rule of Saddam Hussein.

General Saddam Hussein became Iraqi dictator in 1979

Blinded by his dream to achieve hegemony over the Persian Gulf, the dictator led his nation through multiple international conflicts, including the Persian Gulf War.

With the US government on high alert to the movement of Arab states following the 9/11 attacks, government officials concluded, based on what has since been proven as flawed intelligence, that the General may provide terrorist groups with chemical or biological weapons, and though the Iraqi leader allowed UN weapons inspectors to visit Iraq in November 2002, his failure to cooperate fully with the investigations frustrated the US and UK.

The National:

President George W. Bush called on Hussein to step down, he refused, and the US led an attack on Iraq on March 20, 2003.

The war resulted in between 151,000 and 1.2 million Iraqis being killed, and US forces withdrew in 2011.

Amongst Islamic division, covert US and UK operations, and increased religious ideological tension, climate change and youth have driven unrest demanding better governance in a nation they and multiple generations before have only ever seen embroiled in war.

The strength of the next generation “strongly suggests that the Iraqi national struggle is alive and kicking”, writes Dr Luay al-Khatteeb, Iraq’s former electricity minister.

What can Scotland learn?

By celebrating an old independence day, Iraqi’s are given back a shared belief, a shared identity, that through collective effort, they can regain sovereignty after been used for international proxy struggles.

Resources, both natural (oil) and military (weapons of mass destruction) in Scotland, will be major factors in the power struggle for a just independence agreement, and the UK will be prepared to battle for decades to retain it.