The Kurds and Iraq…


The Kurds, who are an ethnic group, live in the geographical square located in the north and northeast of Iraq, northwest Iran, southern Turkey and northeastern Syria. The population number is approximately 30 million. Most of them are Sunni Muslims and they are the fourth largest ethnic group in the region, and they did not have Their independent state
‏After the end of the First World War, a group of Kurds began to think of establishing an independent state, and there was a Western perception of the Kurdish state in the Treaty of Sevres in 1920 (which stipulates the establishment of a Kurdish state subject to the approval of the League of Nations. Article 64 of the treaty provides for the granting of the Kurds who Residents of Mosul state have the right to choose to join the future independent state of Kurdistan) After three years, these hopes ended with the Treaty of Lausanne, which established the current borders of the Turkish state and did not allow the establishment of the Kurdish state.

‏1- Areas of Kurdish presence:
‏There are approximately 7 million Kurds in Iraq, most of them Sunnis, distributed over the following governorates: Erbil, Sulaymaniyah, Dohuk, Halabja, and areas of Kirkuk, Diyala and Nineveh.
‏2- The emergence of Kurdish political movements:
‏The Kurdistan Democratic Party: The party was established in 1946 under the leadership of Mullah Mustafa Barzani and relied on its formation on the Barzani clan and the tribal alliances with it, and it takes Erbil and Dohuk as its strongholds, and has had a leadership role in all armed confrontations with the government in Baghdad since its establishment. Today, under the leadership of Masoud Barzani, the party does not hide its desire to establish the Kurdish state, despite being part of the Iraqi federalism with semi-independent powers and enjoying strong relations with the United States, Europe and Turkey, but it is at odds with Iran.
‏The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan Party: It was established in 1975 under the leadership of Jalal Talabani after his split from the Kurdistan Democratic Party, and included among its members figures with liberal tendencies (knowing that its leader is a former communist), and it takes Sulaymaniyah as a stronghold for him and they are on good terms with Iran, and Despite the long conflict with the Kurdistan Democratic Party, which was punctuated by several armed confrontations, the two parties agreed on Kurdish policy with the central government in Baghdad, and they succeeded in unifying the administration of the regional government
‏The Kurdistan Toilers Party: It is one of the left-wing parties under the leadership of Qader Aziz, and it has excellent links with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan Party, and their alliances have been clear since the 1992 elections in the region and in the military confrontations that occurred in the region
‏The Islamic Union Party:
‏The party was founded in 1992 by Sheikh Salah al-Din Muhammad and is considered the representative of the Muslim Brotherhood movement’s ideology, and has close ties with the movement in Egypt and with the political organization of Najm al-Din Erbakan in Turkey, and the party ran the parliamentary elections in Iraq and won five seats
‏Ansar al-Islam group:
‏It is one of the most recent Kurdish political organizations and was established in 2001 after its split from the Islamic movement and was called the Kurdish Taliban and is led by Sheikh Fateh Krekar, whose nickname is Abu Sayyid Qutb, and it has many operations against American forces and the regional government and is classified as a terrorist organization by the United States
‏3- Wars with the central government:
‏The September Revolution: It is an armed conflict in the Kurdistan region of Iraq between 1961 and 1970, which began as an attempt to establish an independent Kurdish administration in northern Iraq.
‏During the 1960s, this uprising developed into a long war that was not resolved despite the internal power changes in Iraq.
‏During the war, 80% of the Iraqi army participated in the fight against the Kurds, and the war ended with a Kurdish victory in 1970, resulting in between 75,000 and 105,000 casualties, and as a result, a series of Iraqi-Kurdish negotiations followed the war in an attempt to resolve the conflict. The negotiations led to the 1970 Iraqi Kurdish Autonomy Agreement
‏4- March Agreement:
‏On March 11, 1970, it was signed between the Iraqi government and the Kurdish movement led by Mullah Mustafa Barzani, and as a result of which the fighting between the two parties stopped and the Iraqi government recognized the national rights of the Kurds, but soon the agreement collapsed four years after its announcement, and behind this collapse is many Factors, many analysts and observers of the Kurdish issue explained.
‏It is worth noting that this announcement was a big and bold event, and a victory not only for the Kurds, but for the Iraqi people as a whole, how not when it put an end to the fighting that lasted nearly fifty years.
‏The factors that contributed to the collapse of the agreement:
‏- Iranian pressure during that period, especially after the issuance of the declaration, as Iran informed Mulla Mustafa Barzani at that time that this matter was just a hoax and could not be achieved. The two parties, for reasons related to their interests at that time, stipulated that the party should hand over the Kurds affiliated to it if any hostile political activity appeared from them.
‏- Turkish pressure, which was completely similar to what Iran practiced during that period, when after the issuance of the declaration, Turkey officially declared its absolute rejection of what the agreement stipulated and increased the pressure on the Kurdistan Democratic Party, then pushed to sabotage the agreement by all means available at that time
‏- The security system in the central and Kurdish authorities was working against the terms of the March 11 agreement, as each party was waiting for the opportunity to leap over the other party and topple it. The Baath leadership signed the statement and saw in it the appropriate opportunity to strengthen itself and consolidate the foundations of governance while trying to weaken the Democratic Party and its leaders, while the Kurdistan Democratic Party considered the statement a golden opportunity to prove the national right of the Kurds while working to cooperate with all international and regional hostile parties to the Ba’ath government.
‏International reactions were divided between opponents and supporters of the agreement, as the Soviet Union declared its full support for this step, and for its part Britain and the United States of America announced its rejection of the declaration because it believes that this matter will strengthen the Baath Party regime and prove the foundations of its authority at that time. What increased their rejection of the agreement was the declaration of nationalization Oil in 1972.

‏The second Iraqi Kurdish war is an attack led by Iraqi forces against the forces of the Kurdistan Democratic Party led by Mullah Mustafa Barzani between 1974-1975
‏In it, the Soviet Union made strenuous efforts at the beginning of 1974 to prevent the outbreak of war again in Iraqi Kurdistan, through its envoy in the region, Yevgeny Primakov, who was residing in the Lebanese capital, Beirut.
‏Autonomy: The Kurds were during the Iran-Iraq war between two trends in the side of the central government in Baghdad and the other with Iran until the second Gulf War came and Kurdistan became under autonomy with its limited link to the center with some financial matters only and tug-and-pull relations between the politicians and the center. During this period, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) was present in the governorates of Dahuk and Erbil, and on its side the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan Party (PUK) in the Sulaymaniyah governorate. During this period (1994-1998), armed battles arose between the two parties that ended with the signing of a peace agreement in 1998 known as the Washington Agreement, which resulted in an end to the armed conflict between the two parties.
‏5- The Kurds after 2003:
‏After the end of the field military operations in Iraq, the Kurds developed what could be called political institutions, and the two parties realized that the more they united in a common position in dealing with the central government in Baghdad, the more powerful the Kurds’ position was in the central government and in the region’s international dealings, where previous differences were put aside. The parties agreed to turn the page on conflicts and enable the Kurds to participate as much in drawing the political map of Iraq as well as the Kurdistan region. Regional and international relations for the region expanded, which was represented by the deployment of many representations in many countries and in turn many countries opened their representations in the region,
‏The region strengthened its alliances with the United States of America, the Arab Gulf states and Europe, and the Kurds were able to obtain an Iraqi constitutional approval that allows them to establish the foundations of Kurdish federalism, draft the Kurdish constitution and run in local elections, in addition to their access to the position of President of the Republic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister, which led To the escalating importance of the Kurdish component in the Iraqi political arena, especially among regional and international parties interested in Iraqi affairs.
‏6- The right to self-determination:
‏ The Kurdistan region held a referendum for secession from Iraq on September 25, 2017, covering the three governorates of the region in addition to the disputed Kirkuk and some other regions. The voters agreed – according to the official results – to secede by more than 92%, but the federal government in Baghdad refused to recognize the referendum and took several Actions to nullify it.
‏Many observers expected that this referendum will cause a crisis between the federal government and the Kurdistan region, after the regional authorities refused to backtrack on it, and the Baghdad government maintained its rejectionist position,
‏The referendum did not receive real support from the international parties as it would lead to instability in the region and harm the political process in the country.

‏In conclusion, many see the Kurds as a successful example in obtaining their rights by looking at history and their suffering with successive governments over the country, while others see that the issue is not limited to the will of the Kurds, but rather the desire of the international and regional powers that gave them this and helped them to achieve it. In both cases, the region lives today in a safe and stable situation, with a real construction movement that has attracted many foreign investments, while most of Iraq’s provinces and cities are experiencing various crises at all levels.


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Thualfuqar Center for Strategic Studies, Research and Human Rights .... Thualfuqar center is a private, independent research institution concerned with public affairs in Iraq and the effects of its regional and international environment.

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