Whither Kurdistan? - December 2014
Arguably the world's largest ethnic group without a state, the 30 million Kurds, a tough and independent mountain people, have once again come into the focus of global attention with the three-month old siege by the brutal jihadist group ISIL of the Syrian Kurdish town Kobani. Since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, they have been spread among Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran. Mostly followers of a moderate branch of Sunni Islam, they have been manipulated and marginalized by these countries' regimes trying to keep their unruly minorities in check.
In 1920, after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, they were promised their own state in the Treaty of Sevres. The deal was subsequently rejected by the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and Turkey did its level best to repress Kurdish uprisings over the next few decades. In 1946, the self-styled Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI), supported by the Soviet Union, established the Republic of Mahabad, only to have the emergent state crushed by Tehran. In 1988, the Kurds attracted world attention because Iraq's Saddam Hussein launched poison-gas attacks on their city of Halabja, killing some 5,000. READ MORE>>