Chapter 11: Infrastructure and essential services
Almost every history of modern Iraq states or implies that Iraq is an artificial construction (see, for example, Catherwood 2004). Much is made of the fact that the British constructed the country from three separately governed Ottoman provinces: Basrah, Baghdad, and Mosul. However, these “artificial construction” arguments generally focus on ethnic and political differences among the regions and ignore the trade and routes that have tied the country together for millennia. Traditional trade routes in Iraq reflect geography, which favors North– South movement. The riverbeds of the Euphrates and the Tigris not only provided water and power but also were the home of most of the population throughout history. Between the cities of Baghdad and Basrah and the port of Al Faw on the Persian Gulf, these rivers were navigable for fairly large vessels while roads and railroads ran parallel to the Euphrates to middle Syria and along the Tigris through Mosul to northern Syria near the Syrian–Turkish border.
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