Kurdistan

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Context of Kurdistan

Kurdistan (Kurdish: کوردستان, romanized: Kurdistan, lit. 'land of the Kurds'; [ˌkʊɾdɪˈstɑːn] (listen)), or Greater Kurdistan, is a roughly defined geo-cultural territory in Western Asia wherein the Kurds form a prominent majority population and the Kurdish culture, languages, and national identity have historically been based. Geographically, Kurdistan roughly encompasses the northwestern Zagros and the eastern Taurus mountain ranges.

Kurdistan generally comprises the following four regions: southeastern Turkey (Northern Kurdistan), northern Iraq (Southern Kurdistan), northwestern Iran (Eastern Kurdistan), and northern Syria (Wester...Read more

Kurdistan (Kurdish: کوردستان, romanized: Kurdistan, lit. 'land of the Kurds'; [ˌkʊɾdɪˈstɑːn] (listen)), or Greater Kurdistan, is a roughly defined geo-cultural territory in Western Asia wherein the Kurds form a prominent majority population and the Kurdish culture, languages, and national identity have historically been based. Geographically, Kurdistan roughly encompasses the northwestern Zagros and the eastern Taurus mountain ranges.

Kurdistan generally comprises the following four regions: southeastern Turkey (Northern Kurdistan), northern Iraq (Southern Kurdistan), northwestern Iran (Eastern Kurdistan), and northern Syria (Western Kurdistan). Some definitions also include parts of southern Transcaucasia. Certain Kurdish nationalist organizations seek to create an independent nation state consisting of some or all of these areas with a Kurdish majority, while others campaign for greater autonomy within the existing national boundaries.

Historically, the word "Kurdistan" is first attested in 11th century Seljuk chronicles. Many disparate Kurdish dynasties, emirates, principalities, and chiefdoms were established from the 8th to 19th centuries. Administratively, the 20th century saw the establishment of the short-lived areas of the Kurdish state (1918–1919), Kingdom of Kurdistan (1921–1924), Kurdistansky Uyezd i.e. "Red Kurdistan" (1923–1929), Republic of Ararat (1927–1930), and Republic of Mahabad (1946).

Iraqi Kurdistan first gained autonomous status in a 1970 agreement with the Iraqi government, and its status was re-confirmed as the autonomous Kurdistan Region within the federal Iraqi republic in 2005. There is also a Kurdistan Province in Iran, but it is not self-ruled. Kurds fighting in the Syrian Civil War were able to take control of large sections of northern Syria and establish self-governing regions in an Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, where they call for autonomy in a federal Syria after the war.

More about Kurdistan

Basic information
  • Native name Kurdistan
Population, Area & Driving side
  • Population 28000000
  • Area 440000
History
  • Ancient history
    Read more
    Ancient history
     
    Ancient Kurdistan as Kard-uchi, during Alexander the Great's Empire, 4th century BCE
     
    19th-century map showing the location of the Kingdom of Corduene in 60 BCE

    Various groups, among them the Guti, Hurrians, Mannai (Mannaeans), and Armenians, lived in this region in antiquity.[1] The original Mannaean homeland was situated east and south of the Lake Urmia, roughly centered around modern-day Mahabad.[2] The region came under Persian rule during the reign of Cyrus the Great and Darius I.

    The Kingdom of Corduene, which emerged from the declining Seleucid Empire, was located to the south and south-east of Lake Van between Persia and Mesopotamia and ruled northern Mesopotamia and southeastern Anatolia from 189 BC to AD 384 as vassals of the vying Parthian and Roman empires. Corduene became a vassal state of the Roman Republic in 66 BC and remained allied with the Romans until AD 384. After 66 BC, it passed another 5 times between Rome and Persia. Corduene was situated to the east of Tigranocerta, that is, to the east and south of present-day Diyarbakır in south-eastern Turkey.

    Some historians have correlated a connection between Corduene with the modern names of Kurds and Kurdistan;[3][4][5] T. A. Sinclair dismissed this identification as false,[6] while a common association is asserted in the Columbia Encyclopedia.[7]

    Some of the ancient districts of Kurdistan and their corresponding modern names:[8]

    Corduene or Gordyene (Siirt, Bitlis and Şırnak) Sophene (Diyarbakır) Zabdicene or Bezabde (Gozarto d'Qardu or Jazirat Ibn or Cizre) Basenia (Bayazid) Moxoene (Muş) Nephercerta (Miyafarkin) Artemita (Van)

    One of the earliest records of the phrase land of the Kurds is found in an Assyrian Christian document of late antiquity, describing the stories of Assyrian saints of the Middle East, such as Abdisho. When the Sasanian Marzban asked Mar Abdisho about his place of origin, he replied that according to his parents, they were originally from Hazza, a village in Assyria. However, they were later driven out of Hazza by pagans, and settled in Tamanon, which according to Abdisho was in the land of the Kurds. Tamanon lies just north of the modern Iraq-Turkey border, while Hazza is 12 km southwest of modern Erbil. In another passage in the same document, the region of the Khabur River is also identified as land of the Kurds.[9] According to Al-Muqaddasi and Yaqut al-Hamawi, Tamanon was located on the south-western or southern slopes of Mount Judi and south of Cizre.[10] Other geographical references to the Kurds in Syriac sources appear in Zuqnin chronicle, writings of Michael the Syrian and Bar Hebraeus. They mention the mountains of Qardu, city of Qardu and country of Qardawaye.[11]

    Post-classical history
     
    Map of Jibal (mountains of northeastern Mesopotamia), highlighting "Summer and winter resorts of the Kurds", the Kurdish lands. Redrawn from Ibn Hawqal, 977 CE.
     
    The map from Mahmud al-Kashgari's Dīwān Lughāt al-Turk (1072–74), included Kurdistan.[12]

    In the tenth and eleventh centuries, several Kurdish principalities emerged in the region: in the north the Shaddadids (951–1174) (in east Transcaucasia between the Kur and Araxes rivers) and the Rawadids (955–1221) (centered on Tabriz and which controlled all of Azerbaijan), in the east the Hasanwayhids (959–1015) (in Zagros between Shahrizor and Khuzistan) and the Annazids (990–1116) (centered in Hulwan) and in the west the Marwanids (990–1096) to the south of Diyarbakır and north of Jazira.[13][14]

    Kurdistan in the Middle Ages was a collection of semi-independent and independent states called emirates. It was nominally under indirect political or religious influence of Khalifs or Shahs. A comprehensive history of these states and their relationship with their neighbors is given in the text of Sharafnama, written by Prince Sharaf al-Din Bitlisi in 1597.[15][16] The emirates included Baban, Soran, Badinan and Garmiyan in the south; Bakran, Bohtan (or Botan) and Badlis in the north, and Mukriyan and Ardalan in the east.

    The earliest medieval attestation of the toponym Kurdistan is found in a 12th-century Armenian historical text by Matteos Urhayeci. He described a battle near Amid and Siverek in 1062 as to have taken place in Kurdistan.[17][18] The second record occurs in the prayer from the colophon of an Armenian manuscript of the Gospels, written in 1200.[19][20]

    A later use of the term Kurdistan is found in Empire of Trebizond documents in 1336[21] and in Nuzhat al-Qulub, written by Hamdallah Mustawfi in 1340.[22]

     
    British Government 1921 proposal from the Colonial Secretary, Winston Churchill, for an autonomous region of Kurdistan.
     
    1803 map from the Cedid Atlas, the first Muslim atlas, showing Kurdistan in blue
     
    Kurdish independent kingdoms and autonomous principalities circa 1835

    According to Sharaf al-Din Bitlisi in his Sharafnama, the boundaries of the Kurdish land begin at the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf and stretch on an even line to the end of Malatya and Marash.[23] Evliya Çelebi, who traveled in the region between 1640 and 1655, mentioned that Kurdistan includes Erzurum, Van, Hakkari, Cizre, Imaddiya, Mosul, Shahrizor, Harir, Ardalan, Baghdad, Derne, Derteng, until Basra.[24]

    In the 16th century, after prolonged wars, Kurdish-inhabited areas were split between the Safavid and Ottoman empires. A major division of Kurdistan occurred in the aftermath of the Battle of Chaldiran in 1514, and was formalized in the 1639 Treaty of Zuhab.[25] In a geography textbook of late Ottoman military school by Ahmet Cevad Kurdistan span over the cities Erzurum, Van, Urfa, Sulaymanyah, Kirkuk, Mosul and Diyarbakir among others and was one out of six regions of Ottoman Asia.[26]

    Modern history

    After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the Allies contrived to split Kurdistan (as detailed in the ultimately unratified Treaty of Sèvres) among several countries, including Kurdistan, Armenia and others. However, the reconquest of these areas by the forces of Kemal Atatürk (and other pressing issues) caused the Allies to accept the renegotiated Treaty of Lausanne (1923) and the borders of the modern Republic of Turkey, leaving the Kurds without a self-ruled region.[27] Other Kurdish areas were assigned to the new British and French mandated states of Iraq and Syria.

     
    Kurdistan (shaded area) as suggested by the Treaty of Sèvres

    At the San Francisco Peace Conference of 1945, the Kurdish delegation proposed consideration of territory claimed by the Kurds, which encompassed an area extending from the Mediterranean shores near Adana to the shores of the Persian Gulf near Bushehr, and included the Lur inhabited areas of southern Zagros.[28][29]

    The historian Jordi Tejel has identified "Greater Kurdistan" as being one of the "Kurdish myths" that the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Syria (KDPS) were involved in promoting to Kurds in Syria.[30]

    An academic source published by the University of Cambridge has described maps of greater Kurdistan created in the 1940s and forward as: "These maps have become some of the most influential propaganda tools for the Kurdish nationalist discourse. They depict a territorially exaggerated version of the territory of Kurdistan, extending into areas with no majority Kurdish populations. Despite their production with political aims related to specific claims on the demographic and ethnographic structure of the region, and their questionable methodologies, they have become 'Kurdistan in the minds of Kurds' and the boundaries they indicate have been readily accepted."[31]

    At the end of the 1991 Gulf War, the Coalition established a no-fly zone over northern Iraq to provide humanitarian relief to and safeguard the Kurds who would be subjected to Iraqi air attacks. Amid the withdrawal of Iraqi forces from three northern provinces, Kurdistan Region emerged in 1992 as an autonomous entity inside Iraq with its own local government and parliament.[32]

    A 2010 US report, written before the instability in Syria and Iraq that exists as of 2014, attested that "Kurdistan may exist by 2030".[33] The weakening of the Iraqi state following the 2014 Northern Iraq offensive by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has also presented an opportunity for independence for Iraqi Kurdistan,[34] augmented by Turkey's move towards acceptance of such a state although it opposes moves toward Kurdish autonomy in Turkey and Syria.[35]

    Northern Kurdistan
     
    Abdullah Öcalan pictured 1997

    The incorporation into Turkey of the Kurdish-inhabited regions of eastern Anatolia was opposed by many Kurds, and has resulted in a long-running separatist conflict in which tens of thousands of lives have been lost. The region saw several major Kurdish rebellions, including the Koçgiri rebellion of 1920 under the Ottomans, then successive insurrections under the Turkish state, including the 1924 Sheikh Said rebellion, the Republic of Ararat in 1927, and the 1937 Dersim rebellion. All were forcefully put down by the authorities. The region was declared a closed military area from which foreigners were banned between 1925 and 1965.[36][37][38]

    In an attempt to deny their existence, the Turkish government categorized Kurds as "Mountain Turks" until 1991.[39][40][41] The words "Kurds", "Kurdistan", or "Kurdish" were officially banned by the Turkish government.[42] Following the military coup of 1980, the Kurdish language was officially prohibited in public and private life.[43] Many people who spoke, published, or sang in Kurdish were arrested and imprisoned.[44] Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, political parties that represented Kurdish interests were banned.[42]

    In 1983, the Kurdish provinces were included in the a state of emergency region, which was placed under martial law in response to the activities of the militant separatist organization the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).[45][46] A guerrilla war took place through the 1980s and 1990s in which much of the countryside was evacuated, thousands of Kurdish villages were destroyed by the government, and numerous summary executions were carried out by both sides.[47][48][49] Food embargoes were placed on Kurdish villages and towns.[50][51] Tens of thousands were killed in the violence and hundreds of thousands were forced to leave their homes.[52]

    Turkey has historically feared that a Kurdish state in Northern Iraq would encourage and support Kurdish separatists in the adjacent Turkish provinces, and have therefore historically strongly opposed Kurdish independence in Iraq. However, following the chaos in Iraq after the US invasion, Turkey has increasingly worked with the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government.[53] The word 'Kurdistan', whether written or spoken, can still lead to detention and prosecution in Turkey.[54][55][56] Kurdistan has been characterized as an "international colony" by the scholar Ismail Besikci.[57]

     
    Military situation on August 27, 2019:
      Controlled by Syrian Kurds
      Controlled by Iraqi Kurds
      Controlled by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIL, ISIS, IS)
    Iraqi Kurdistan

    The successful 2014 Northern Iraq offensive by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, with the resultant weakening of the ability of the Iraqi state to project power, also presented a "golden opportunity" for the Kurds to increase their independence and possibly declare an independent Kurdish state.[34] The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, who took more than 80 Turkish persons captive in Mosul during their offensive, is an enemy of Turkey, making Kurdistan useful for Turkey as a buffer state. On 28 June 2014 Hüseyin Çelik, a spokesman for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), made comments to the Financial Times indicating Turkey's readiness to accept an independent Kurdistan in northern Iraq.[35]

    Syrian Civil War

    Various sources have reported that Al-Nusra has issued a fatwā calling for Kurdish women and children in Syria to be killed,[58] and the fighting in Syria has led tens of thousands of refugees to flee to Iraq's Kurdistan region.[59][60][61] As of 2015, Turkey was actively supporting Al-Nusra,[62] but as of January 2017, Turkey's foreign ministry has said that Al-Nusra is a terrorist group and has acted accordingly.[63]

    ^ [1] Archived 1 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine ^ "Mahabad". Britannica Online Encyclopedia. Retrieved 13 May 2011. ^ Cite error: The named reference A.D. Lee, 1991 pp. 366–374 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). ^ Rawlinson, George, The Seven Great Monarchies of the Ancient Eastern World, Vol. 7, 1871. (copy at Project Gutenberg) ^ Revue des études arméniennes, vol. 21, 1988–1989, p. 281, by Société des études armeniennes, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Published by Imprimerie nationale, P. Geuthner, 1989. ^ T. A. Sinclair, "Eastern Turkey, an Architectural and Archaeological Survey", 1989, volume 3, page 360. ^ Kurds, The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, 2001. ^ J. Bell, A System of Geography. Popular and Scientific (A Physical, Political, and Statistical Account of the World and Its Various Divisions), pp. 133–4, Vol. IV, Fullarton & Co., Glasgow, 1832. ^ J. T. Walker, The Legend of Mar Qardagh: Narrative and Christian Heroism in Late Antique Iraq (368 pages), University of California Press, ISBN 0-520-24578-4, 2006, pp. 26, 52, 108. ^ T. A. Sinclair, "Eastern Turkey, an Architectural and Archaeological Survey", Vol. 3, Pindar Press, ISBN 978-1-904597-76-6, 1989, page 337. ^ Mouawad, R. J. (1992). "The Kurds and Their Christian Neighbors: The Case of Orthodox Syriacs". Parole de l'Orient. XVII: 127–141. ^ Gunes, Cengiz; Bozarslan, Hamit; Yadirgi, Veli, eds. (22 April 2021). The Cambridge History of the Kurds. Cambridge University Press. p. 31. ^ Maria T. O'Shea, Trapped between the map and reality: geography and perceptions of Kurdistan , 258 pp., Routledge, 2004. (see p. 68) ^ I. Gershevitch, The Cambridge history of Iran: The Saljuq and Mongol periods, Vol. 5, 762 pp., Cambridge University Press, 1968. (see p. 237 for "Rawwadids") ^ "Sharafnama: History of the Kurdish Nation". Mazdapublishers.com. Retrieved 10 December 2017. ^ For a list of these entities see Kurdistan and its native Provincial subdivisions Archived 18 November 2005 at the Wayback Machine ^ Matt'eos Urhayec'i, (in Armenian) Ժամանակագրություն (Chronicle), ed. by M. Melik-Adamyan et al., Erevan, 1991. (p. 156) ^ G. Asatrian, Prolegomena to the Study of the Kurds, Iran and the Caucasus, Vol. 13, pp. 1–58, 2009. (see p. 19) ^ A.S. Mat'evosyan, Colophons of the Armenian Manuscripts, Erevan, 1988. (p. 307) ^ G. Asatrian, Prolegomena to the Study of the Kurds, Iran and the Caucasus, Vol. 13, pp. 1–58, 2009. (p. 20) ^ Zehiroglu, Ahmet M. ; "Trabzon Imparatorlugu" 2016 (ISBN 978-605-4567-52-2); p. 169 ^ G. Asatrian, Prolegomena to the Study of the Kurds, Iran and the Caucasus, Vol. 13, pp. 1–58, 2009. (see p. 20) ^ Özoğlu, Hakan (2004). Kurdish Notables and the Ottoman State. State University of New York Press. pp. 27–28. ISBN 978-0-7914-5993-5. ^ Özoğlu, Hakan (2004). Kurdish Notables and the Ottoman State. State University of New York Press. p. 34. ISBN 978-0-7914-5993-5. ^ C. Dahlman, "The Political Geography of Kurdistan", Eurasian Geography and Economics, Vol.43, No.4, pp.271–299, 2002. ^ Özkan, Behlül (4 May 2014). "Making a National Vatan in Turkey: Geography Education in the Late Ottoman and Early Republican Periods". Middle Eastern Studies. 50 (3): 461. doi:10.1080/00263206.2014.886569. ISSN 0026-3206. S2CID 144455272. ^ Sardar Aziz (2013). "Re-conceptualizing Kurdistan as a Battlefield." "Un mondo senza stati è un mondo senza guerre". Politisch motivierte Gewalt im regionalen Kontext, ed. by Georg Grote, Hannes Obermair and Günther Rautz (EURAC book 60), Bozen–Bolzano, ISBN 978-88-88906-82-9, pp. 45–61. ^ C. Dahlman, The Political Geography of Kurdistan, Eurasian Geography and Economics, Vol.43, No.4, p. 274. ^ "The map presented by the Kurdish League Delegation, March 1945". Akakurdistan.com. Retrieved 13 May 2011. ^ Tejel, Jordi (2008). Syria's Kurds: History, Politics and Society. Routledge. p. 92. ISBN 9780415613460. The KDPS continued to promote the teaching of the Kurdish language in Latin characters and to cultivate the nationalist doctrine of the Syrian Kurds, using Kurdish myths (Kawa and "Greater Kurdistan") ^ Kaya, Zeynep N. (2020). Mapping Kurdistan: Territory, Self-Determination and Nationalism. Cambridge University Press. p. 108. ISBN 9781108474696. ^ Gareth R. V. Stansfield (2003). Iraqi Kurdistan - Political development and emergent democracy. pp. 146–152. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.465.8736. ISBN 0-415-30278-1. ^ "Turkey may be divided, a Kurdish state could become a reality by 2030: U.S. Intelligence report". ekurd.net. Archived from the original on 21 January 2013. ^ a b "The Rise of ISIS, a Golden Opportunity for Iraq's Kurds". aucegypt.edu. 27 June 2014. ^ a b "Turkey Ready To Accept Kurdish State in Northern Iraq". International Business Times UK. 28 June 2014. ^ M.M. Gunter, The Kurds and the future of Turkey, 184 pp., Palgrave Macmillan, 1997. (see p. 6) ^ G. Chaliand, A people without a country: the Kurds and Kurdistan, 259 pp., Interlink Books, 1993. (see p. 250) ^ Joost Jongerden, The settlement issue in Turkey and the Kurds: an analysis of spatial policies, modernity and war, 354 pp., BRILL Publishers, 2007. (see p. 37) ^ "Turkey – Linguistic and Ethnic Groups". ^ Bartkus, Viva Ona, The Dynamic of Secession, (Cambridge University Press, 1999), pp. 90–1. ^ Çelik, Yasemin (1999). Contemporary Turkish foreign policy (1. publ. ed.). Westport, Conn.: Praeger. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-275-96590-7. ^ a b Baser, Bahar (2015). Diasporas and Homeland Conflicts: A Comparative Perspective. Ashgate Publishing. p. 63. ISBN 978-1-4724-2562-1. ^ Toumani, Meline. Minority Rules, New York Times, 17 February 2008 ^ Aslan, Senem (2014). Nation Building in Turkey and Morocco. Cambridge University Press. p. 134. ISBN 978-1-107-05460-8. ^ Kurd, The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia including Atlas, 2005 ^ "[2], NY Times, 28 September 2007 ^ Ibrahim, Ferhad (2000). The Kurdisch conflict in Turkey : obstacles and chances for peace and democracy. Münster : New York, N.Y.: Lit ; St. Martin's press. p. 182. ISBN 978-3-8258-4744-9. ^ Gunes, Cengiz (2013). The Kurdish National Movement in Turkey: From Protest to Resistance. Routledge. p. 130. ISBN 978-1-136-58798-6. ^ Martin van Bruinessen, "Kurdistan." The Oxford Companion to the Politics of the World, 2nd edition. Joel Krieger, ed. Oxford University Press, 2001. ^ Olson, Robert (1996). The Kurdish nationalist movement in the 1990s: its impact on Turkey and the Middle East. Lexington, Ky.: University Press of Kentucky. p. 16. ISBN 978-0-8131-0896-4. ^ Shaker, Nadeen. "After Being Banned for Almost a Century, Turkey's Kurds Are Clamoring to Learn Their Own Language". Muftah. ^ "Kurdish rebels kill Turkey troops", BBC News, 8 May 2007 ^ "Bloomberg Business". Bloomberg.com. Archived from the original on 29 August 2014. ^ Khalidi, Ari (1 May 2017). "Three raising Kurdistan flag during May Day arrested in Turkey". www.kurdistan24.net. Retrieved 4 October 2020. ^ English, Duvar (29 October 2021). "Police detain Kurdish man for calling Turkey's southeast 'Kurdistan'". www.duvarenglish.com (in Turkish). Retrieved 7 February 2022. ^ "Police detain citizen who told İYİ Party Chair Akşener 'Kurdistan is denied'". Bianet. October 2021. Retrieved 7 February 2022. ^ Deniz Duruiz (Summer 2020). Ayҫa Alemdaroğlu; Elif Babül; Arang Keshavarzian; Nabil Al-Tikriti (eds.). "Tracing the Conceptual Genealogy of Kurdistan as International Colony". Middle East Report. Middle East Research and Information Project (295). Retrieved 9 January 2021. ^ See * David Phillips (World Post column) "President Masoud Barzani of Iraqi Kurdistan has pledged protection for Syrian Kurds from al-Nusra, a terrorist organization, which issued a fatwa calling for the killing of Kurdish women and children" David Phillips (World Post column) "Al-Nusra Front, Syria's Al-Qaeda affiliate, issued a fatwa condoning the killing of Kurdish women and children" ITNsource.com "A fatwa (edict) has been issued permitting the shedding of the blood of the Kurds and they called from the mosque loudspeakers that the shedding of the Kurdish blood is halal" ^ "Some 30,000 Syrians flee to Iraq's Kurdistan region, more expected". UNHCR. 20 August 2013. ^ Martin Chulov (19 August 2013). "Syrian Kurds continue to flee to Iraq in their thousands". The Guardian. ^ "Syrian Kurds Flee To Iraq by the Thousands". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 20 August 2013. ^ Kim Sengupta (12 May 2015). "Turkey and Saudi Arabia alarm the West by backing Islamist extremists the Americans had bombed in Syria". The Independent. ^ "Turkey sees Nusra Front as terrorist group, acts accordingly: source Reuters Staff". Reuters. 26 January 2017. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
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