In Iraq right now, the Sunni Militant group
ISIS is fighting against the Shiite run government for control of most of the country. But those
aren’t the only groups in Iraq. There is a whole other section of people called the Kurds,
who are involved in the dispute, the politics, and pretty much everything else going in in
the country. So, who are the Kurds and what do they want? Well, let’s look at a map of Iraq. The Kurds
live in this area, which makes them seem like a small group, but if you were to pull back
to show more of the region, you’d see that the Kurdish people actually live across a
large contiguous block of the middle east, that spreads across Iran, Iraq, Syria, and
Turkey. There are 15 to 20 million Kurds, with their
own language and culture, living in this area, slightly more than half of which are in Turkey. Kurds by religion are Sunni Muslims, but they
don’t identify ethnically as Sunni. They existed prior to Islam and were resistant to Arab
military expansion in the 6th century. In order to create the first Sunni Caliph all
those years ago, Arab forces had to defeat many different Kurdish princess and feudal
groups. As a result Kurds don’t self-identify as Arabs, like Sunnis and Shias do. Again, this all started in the 6th century.
We’re talking about an ancient tribe of people who live primarily in the mountainous areas
of war torn countries. To say the least modern history has not been easy on the Kurds. It starts with the fall of the Ottoman empire
and The 1920 Treaty of Sevre. This formed the nations of Iraq, Syria and Kuwait and
was supposed to leave the option open for a Kurdish nation, but that didn’t happen.
In large part because Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq refused to recognize Kurdish independence.
Now, they are a largely marginalized group stuck in those nations. Turkey, is trying to deprive them of any sort
of national identity by designating them as “mountain Turks” and outlawing their language
and traditional dress. They also refuse to recognize the Kurds as a minority group, stripping
them of any collective bargaining powers. Similar things are happening in Iran, a country
that exists under Sharia Law. And in Iraq their history, until recently was even worse. The kurds sided with Iran in the Iran-Iraq
war in the 80’s, and drew the wrath of Saddam Hussein. He razed entire Kurdish villages
and used chemical weapons against the Kurdish people. Now, they have their own regions in Iraq and
Syria pretty much under their own control, but the fighting in those countries isn’t
over yet and stabilization, depending on who wins, may not be a good thing for Kurdish
independence. Plus, the Kurds aren’t one united group looking to create an enormous Kurdish
nation. At this point, they’re just a minority group trying to stay alive.