Basra

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Basra

(bŭs`rə), Arabic al Basrah, city (1987 pop. 406,296), SE Iraq, on the Shatt al Arab. Basra is Iraq's second largest city and principal port. Its commercially advantageous location, near oil fields and 75 mi (121 km) from the Persian Gulf, has made it prosperous, and oil is refined in the city. Petroleum products, grains, wool, and dates are exported. Basra was founded by the caliph UmarUmar
or Omar
, c.581–644, 2d caliph (see caliphate). At first hostile to Islam, he was converted by 618, becoming an adviser to Muhammad. He succeeded Abu Bakr as caliph without opposition in 634. In his reign Islam became an imperial power.
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 I, at the site of modern Az Zabair. It was a cultural center under Harun ar-RashidHarun ar-Rashid
[Arab.,=Aaron the Upright], c.764–809, 5th and most famous Abbasid caliph (786–809). He succeeded his brother Musa al-Hadi, fourth caliph, a year after the death of his father, Mahdi, the third caliph.
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 and declined with the decay of the Abbasid caliphate. Its possession was long contested by the Persians and the Turks. Largely in ruins by the mid-14 cent., Basra was subsequently re-established on its present site. The British occupied Basra during World War I and used its port; they remained there until 1930. After World War I the construction of a rail line to Baghdad and the building of a modern harbor restored the city's importance. Due to its location on the heavily contested Shatt al Arab waterway, Basra was hard hit by Iranian forces in the 1980s during the Iran-Iraq WarIran-Iraq War,
1980–88, protracted military conflict between Iran and Iraq. It officially began on Sept. 22, 1980, with an Iraqi land and air invasion of western Iran, although Iraqi spokespersons maintained that Iran had been engaging in artillery attacks on Iraqi towns
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. The port was further bombed by western coalition forces in the Persian Gulf WarPersian Gulf Wars,
two conflicts involving Iraq and U.S.-led coalitions in the late 20th and early 21st cent.

The First Persian Gulf War, also known as the Gulf War, Jan.–Feb.
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 (1991), primarily to thwart covert trade. Basra is the seat of a branch of the Univ. of Baghdad. The name also appears as Bassora, Bussora, and Busra.

Basra

 

(or Bassorah), a city in southern Iraq and administrative center of the liwa (province) of Basra. It has a population of 313,000 (1965). Basra is a large port on the Shatt al-Arab River and at high tide is accessible to oceangoing vessels. A railroad and highway junction, it has distilleries, rope and cable production, and handicraft enterprises. Dates are also processed. Oil is extracted nearby at Az Zubayr and Rumaylah. The city is intersected by numerous canals (“Venice of the East”). Most of the city is covered by the verdure of palm groves and orchards.

Basra was founded by Caliph Omar I in 637 or 638 and during the eighth and ninth centuries became one of the most important cultural and economic centers of the Caliphate. The city was destroyed by the Mongols in 1258. In the 1530’s it became part of the Ottoman Empire. In November 1914, Basra was occupied by British troops; after World War I, it became part of Iraq. During the 1930’s, 1940’s, and 1950’s, Basra was one of the centers of the workers’ and anti-imperialist movement.

REFERENCE

Pellat, Ch., and S. H. Longrigg. “Basra.” In Encyclopedic de I’Islam, vol. 1. Leiden-Paris, 1960. Pages 1117–1120.

Basra

, Basrah, Busra, Busrah
a port in SE Iraq, on the Shatt-al-Arab. Pop.: 1 187 000 (2005 est.)