American commercial interaction with the Ottoman Empire (which included the area that later became modern Iraq) began in the late 1700s. In 1831, Chargé d’Affaires David Porter became the first American diplomat in the Ottoman Empire, at the capital city of Constantinople. With the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, the United States supported Great Britain’s administration of Iraq as a mandate, but insisted that it be groomed for independence, rather than remain a colony.
Modern Flag of Iraq
The United States recognized Iraq on January 9, 1930, when Charles G. Dawes, U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom, signed the Anglo-American-Iraqi Convention in London. According to the preamble of the convention, “the United States of America recognizes Iraq as an independent State.” In this treaty, the United States also acknowledged that “special relations” existed between the United Kingdom and Iraq because the latter was a mandate under British protection according to the Treaty of Versailles. In 1932 Iraq terminated its mandate status.
John Henry Haynes was appointed on August 10, 1888 as the first American Consul for Baghdad, which was in the part of the Ottoman Empire that later became modern Iraq. He initially fulfilled his duties as Consul for Baghdad while residing in Constantinople, Turkey, until he presented his credentials to the Ottoman authorities in Baghdad on January 8, 1889.
Diplomatic relations and the American Legation in Iraq were established on March 30, 1931, when Alexander K. Sloan (then serving as Consul in Iraq) was appointed Chargé d'Affaires of the American Legation at Baghdad.
The United States upgraded its diplomatic representation in Iraq from a Legation to an Embassy on December 28, 1946.
On May 28, 1858, the United States recognized the Arab Union that formed between Iraq and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on May 19, 1958. U.S. recognition of the new state was accorded in an exchange of notes between the American Embassy at Baghdad and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Arab Union. In announcing U.S. recognition, the Department of State noted that the Arab Union’s constitution stipulated that “external affairs will remain as they are at the present time” with the two Kingdoms that had joined to form the new state. Consequently, formal diplomatic relations were not established between the United States and the Arab Union, and diplomatic relations continued uninterrupted between the United States and Iraq, and the United States and Jordan.
Following a coup d’etat in Baghdad on July 14, 1958, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan announced the dissolution of the Arab Union and decreed that Jordan would function as a separate state, “effective from the 1st of August 1958.”
Iraq severed diplomatic relations with the United States on June 7, 1967, in the wake of the June 1967 Arab-Israeli War.
A U.S. Interests Section was established in the Belgian Embassy in Baghdad on October 1, 1972.
The United States resumed diplomatic relations with Iraq and elevated the U.S. Interests Section in Baghdad to Embassy status on November 26, 1984, when President Ronald Reagan and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz concluded an agreement to that effect.
The Embassy in Baghdad was closed January 12, 1991, following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, the application of international sanctions against Iraq, and the buildup of military forces in the region. The United States and its allies began military operations against Iraq on January 16, 1991. Iraq severed diplomatic relations with the United States February 9, 1991, after which each nation maintained a modest Interests Section in the other’s capital.
A coalition of countries led by U.S. and British forces invaded Iraq on March 20, 2003, and seized Baghdad on April 9. On May 12, 2003, the United States established the Coalition Provisional Authority as the interim civil authority in Iraq, under the leadership of L. Paul Bremer III, a former U.S. diplomat. Bremer explained that his chief goals were to manage the post-war reconstruction program and to define a clear path for the resumption of Iraqi sovereignty, tasks that soon were complicated by the outbreak of an insurgency and violent civil unrest.
The Coalition Provisional Authority transferred sovereignty to the new Interim Iraqi Government led by Prime Minister Ayad Allawi on June 28, 2004. After announcing the transfer of power to Allawi’s Government, Coalition Administrator L. Paul Bremer stated that the Coalition Provisional Authority ceased to exist; he left Iraq later that day.
Upon the transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqi Interim Government, diplomatic relations were reestablished on June 28, 2004, when the United States reopened its Embassy within Baghdad’s “Green Zone.” Ambassador John Negroponte presented his credentials to the Iraqi Interim Government on June 29.