Unreached People Group Project (Iraq)
A Survey of Mission Work
History of Mission Work
Current Status of the Church
Number of Known Believers
Unreached People Group Project (Iraq)
The history of Iraq parallels the antiquity of mankind; therefore, a more recent examination of Iraq's history will be more suitable for evaluating the needs of unreached people in this country. The country used to be part of the Ottoman Empire but Britain occupied Iraq during World War I.
In this regard, Dawisha reports that, "Iraq was patched up together into a monarchy by the British in 1921 from three disparate provinces of the defunct Ottoman Empire. Divisions were so deep that when it came to choosing a ruler for the new state, the British realized that no local candidate would command the support of the whole population."
The country was designated a League of Nations mandate administered by the UK in 1920. Iraq subsequently gained independence and in 1932, it was established as a kingdom.
Although a republic was established in 1958, the country was actually ruled by a series of dictators for the next half century, culminating in the Saddam Hussein regime which ended in 2003 following interventions by a coalition of nations led by the United States.
Over the past 2 decades, however, Iraq experienced an enormously costly war in terms of human lives and national treasure with Iran from 1980 to 1988 that resulted in an essential stalemate.
Iraq has also engaged in hostile expeditions against its neighbor, Kuwait. According to analysts with the U.S. government, "In August 1990, Iraq seized Kuwait but was expelled by U.S.-led, UN coalition forces during the Gulf War of January-February 1991."
In response to continuing noncompliance with UN Security Council mandates over a 12-year period, a U.S.-led UN coalition force once again invaded and occupied Iraq in March 2003 pursuant to a subsequent UN Security Council resolution, resulting in the removal of Hussein. In addition, also pursuant to the UN Security Council resolution, U.S. military forces maintained a presence through 2009 in an effort to promote stability and provide the fledgling government with an opportunity to consolidate its authority; however, actual military operations did not end until mid-December 2011.
According to U.S. government intelligence analysts, "In October 2005, Iraqis approved a constitution in a national referendum and, pursuant to this document, elected a 275-member Council of Representatives (COR) in December 2005. The COR approved most cabinet ministers in May 2006, marking the transition to Iraq's first constitutional government in nearly a half century." There have also elections held for a national legislature and a new government was approved in December 2010; in addition, elections were held in 2009 for all provincial councils in the country's governorates with the exceptions of the Kurdistan Regional Government and Kirkuk Governorate.
Despite this apparent political progress, Iraq's more recent history is highly troubling for Christian missionaries. For instance, Marr argues that, "Iraq's history is one of competing views of the state put forth by its diverse groups and communities, the ways in which these have clashed, and how one such narrative -- that of Arab or Iraqi nationalism -- espoused mainly by a narrow minority (Sunni Arabs from a particular region), came to dominate the state apparatus."
Although Christians living in other parts of the Arab world have been "recognized as communities in law and public consciousness since the birth of Islam,"
the situation is different in Iraq today. Indeed, Marr concludes that, "Those seeking a 'new' narrative in Iraq must recognize the powerful historical legacy at work in Iraq in which virtually all alternative directions have been foreclosed."
Language. The official languages in Iraq are Arabic, Kurdish, Turkmen, and Assyrian; in addition, Armenian is recognized as an official language in regions of the country where speakers represent a majority of the population.
Culture. Although generally unified in Islamic religion, Iraq's culture is still marred by divisiveness in political and social realms. In fact, after being on the throne for 12 years, King Faysal I described the glaring problems with Iraqi society thusly: "Iraq is one of those countries that lack religious, communal and cultural unity, and as such it is divided upon itself; its power dispersed."
Unfortunately, the king's empirical observations concerning the divisiveness of Iraqi culture are still relevant today. In this regard, King Faysal I concluded that, "The Arab Sunni government rules over a Kurdish population, the bulk of which is ignorant, that is led by people with personal ambitions who use the [Kurds'] ethnic difference to advocate secession."
Other aspects of Iraqi culture can be discerned from Geert Hofstede's salient cultural dimensions which are applied to Iraq in Table 1 below.
Application of Geert Hofstede's Five Cultural Dimensions to Iraq
Application to Iraq
Power distance is defined as the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organisations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally.
Iraq scores high on this dimension (score of 95) which means that people accept a hierarchical order in which everybody has a place and which needs no further justification. Hierarchy in an organization is seen as reflecting inherent inequalities, centralization is popular, subordinates expect to be told what to do and the ideal boss is a benevolent autocrat
The fundamental issue addressed by this dimension is the degree of interdependence a society maintains among its members. It has to do with whether people's self-image is defined in terms of "I" or "We." In Individualist societies people are supposed to look after themselves and their direct family only.
Iraq, with a score of 30 is considered a collectivistic society. This is manifest in a close long-term commitment to the member 'group', be that a family, extended family, or extended relationships. Loyalty in a collectivist culture is paramount, and over-rides most other societal rules and regulations. The society fosters strong relationships where everyone takes responsibility for fellow members of their group.
A high score (masculine) on this dimension indicates that the society will be driven by competition, achievement and success, with success being defined by the winner / best in field -- a value system that starts in school and continues throughout organizational behaviour.
Iraq scores 70 on this dimension and is thus a masculine society. In masculine countries people "live in order to work," managers are expected to be decisive and assertive, the emphasis is on equity, competition and performance and conflicts are resolved by fighting them out.
The dimension Uncertainty Avoidance has to do with the way that a society deals with the fact that the future can never be known: should we try to control the future or just let it happen? This ambiguity brings with it anxiety and different cultures have learnt to deal with this anxiety in different ways.
Iraq scores 85 on this dimension and thus has a high preference for avoiding uncertainty. Countries exhibiting high uncertainty avoidance maintain rigid codes of belief and behaviour and are intolerant of unorthodox behaviour and ideas. In these cultures, security is an important element in individual motivation.
Source: Geert Hofstede's Cultural Dimensions (2014) at http://geert-hofstede.com/iraq.html
Economy. One of the bright spots on the Iraqi horizon is the nation's economic development. The hiatus in civil unrest provided by the U.S. military presence over the past several years gave the country the opportunity to recover and there is notable growth in the energy, construction, and retail sectors.
According to U.S. analysts, though, "Broader economic development, long-term fiscal health, and sustained improvements in the overall standard of living still depend on the central government passing major policy reforms."
The country's economy remains largely undiversified, however, and is depends heavily on the oil sector that accounts for more than 90% of the Iraqi government's revenues and 80% of its foreign exchange revenues.
In sum, although the energy sector's future appears bright, the country is still having difficulty attracting new foreign investment due to an uncertain business environment and a lack of the political and economic reforms.
As can be discerned from the trends shown in Figure 1 below, Iraqi GDP annual growth is slowly recovering from a precipitous decline in 2005.
Figure 1. Iraqi GDP Annual Growth Rate: January 2004 to January 2012
Note: The annual growth rate in Gross Domestic Product measures the increase in value of the goods and services produced by an economy over the period of a year. Therefore, unlike the commonly used quarterly GDP growth rate the annual GDP growth rate takes into account a full year of economic activity, thus avoiding the need to make any type of seasonal adjustment.
Religion. The country is overwhelmingly (97%) Muslim (Shia 60%-65%, Sunni 32%-37%), and Islam is the official religion. Christians and other…
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