Kurds - A People Without a State Essay

Kurds - A People Without a State Essay

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Kurds - A People Without a State


Of all the ethnic groups in the world, the Kurds are one of the
largest that has no state to call their own. According to historian
William Westermann, "The Kurds can present a better claim to race
purity...than any people which now inhabits Europe." (Bonner, p. 63,
1992) Over the past hundred years, the desire for an independent
Kurdish state has created conflicts mainly with the Turkish and Iraqi
populations in the areas where most of the Kurds live. This conflict
has important geographical implications as well. The history of the
Kurdish nation, the causes for these conflicts, and an analysis of the
situation will be discussed in this paper.

History of the Kurds

The Kurds are a Sunni Muslim people living primarily in Turkey,
Iraq, and Iran. The 25 million Kurds have a distinct culture that is
not at all like their Turkish, Persian, and Arabic neighbors
(Hitchens, p. 36, 1992). It is this cultural difference between the
groups that automatically creates the potential for conflict. Of the
25 million Kurds, approximately 10 million live in Turkey, four
million in Iraq, five million in Iran, and a million in Syria, with
the rest scattered throughout the rest of the world (Bonner, p. 46,
1992). The Kurds also have had a long history of conflict with these
other ethnic groups in the Middle East, which we will now look at.
The history of Kurds in the area actually began during ancient times.
However, the desire for a Kurdish homeland did not begin until the
early 1900’s, around the time of World War I. In his Fourteen Points,
President Woodrow Wilson promised the Kurds a sovereign state
(Hitchens, p. 54, 1992). The formation of a Kurdish state was supposed
to have been accomplished through the Treaty of Sevres in 1920 which
said that the Kurds could have an independent state if they wanted one
(Bonner, p. 46, 1992). With the formation of Turkey in 1923, Kemal
Ataturk, the new Turkish President, threw out the treaty and denied
the Kurds their own state. This was the beginning of the
Turkish-Kurdish conflict. At about this same time, the Kurds attempted
to establish a semi-independent state, and actually succeeded in
forming the Kingdom of Kurdistan, which lasted from 1922-1924; later,
in 1946, some of the Kurds established the Mahabad Republic...

... middle of paper ...

... seem very willing to give
up their territory to the Kurds. The plan of the PUK has a small
chance to work, assuming that guerrilla tactics would scare the Iraqi
government. By simply holding out, the Kurds would gain nothing,
because the Iraqis are not threatened by the Kurds per se. However, by
attacking the Iraqis, the Kurds run the risk of a counterattack which
they probably could not effectively deal with. Basically, that would
make the situation for the Kurds even worse than before.


Without the support of a large powerful nation such as the U.S.,
the Kurds will probably never establish an independent Kurdish state.
The Kurds do not have enough military power to fight off the Turks and
Iraqis without help. The Iraqis and Turks would not be willing to give
up their economically important territory to people which they
perceive a "threat" to their way of life and will most likely continue
to fight the Kurds. The Kurds have no choice but to continue fighting
until either they or the Turks and Iraqis are defeated, as both groups
are unwilling to allow them to remain in their countries. The future
definitely looks bleak for the Kurds.

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