Friday, 25 June 2010
The Kurds Subjugated by Neighboring People
A largely Sunni Muslim people with their own language and culture, most Kurds live in the generally contiguous areas of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Armenia and Syria – a mountainous region of southwest Asia generally known as Kurdistan ("Land of the Kurds").
Before World War I, traditional Kurdish life was nomadic, revolving around sheep and goat herding throughout the Mesopotamian plains and highlands of Turkey and Iran. The breakup of the Ottoman Empire after the war created a number of new nation-states, but not a separate Kurdistan. Kurds, no longer free to roam, were forced to abandon their seasonal migrations and traditional ways.
The 1920 Treaty of Sevres, which created the modern states of Iraq, Syria and Kuwait, was to have included the possibility of a Kurdish state in the region.
After the overthrow of the Turkish monarchy by Kemal Ataturk, Turkey, Iran and Iraq each agreed not to recognize an independent Kurdish state.
Turkey continues its policy of not recognizing the Kurds as a minority group.
After the Kurds supported Iran in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, Saddam Hussein retaliated, razing villages and attacking peasants with chemical weapons.
Despite a common goal of independent statehood, the 20 million or so Kurds in the various countries are hardly unified.
From 1994-98, two Iraqi Kurd factions – the Kurdistan Democratic Party, led by Massoud Barzani, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, led by Jalal Talabani – fought a bloody war for power over northern Iraq.
Meanwhile, the Kurdistan Workers' Party, the PKK, currently waging a guerrilla insurgency in southeastern Turkey, has rejected the Iraqi Kurds' decision to seek local self-government within a federal Iraq.
The PKK believes any independent Kurdish state should be a homeland for all Kurds.
The Washington Post Company (1999)