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Who Are the Kurdish People? The Story of a Stateless Population


The Kurdish population is an ethnic group indigenous of the Mesopotamian territory corresponding to today’s south-western Armenia, north-western Iran, northern Iraq, north-eastern Syria and south-eastern Turkey. The Kurds speak different dialects which are all classified under the Kurdish language.

However, they are either bilingual or multilingual since they also speak the language of the territory where they live. It is estimated that the population of Kurds living in the Southwest Asia amounts to 30 million. On the other hand, about 1.5 million live in the Western countries, mostly in Germany.

How comes that they do not have their own state?

The Stateless Population

After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire during World War One, the Western allies outlined Kurdistan, a Kurdish state, in the Treaty of Sevres in 1920. Thing changed, however, three years later, when the borders of modern Turkey were outlined with the Treaty of Lausanne. After that, the Kurds were left with no state, thus becoming minorities in their respective countries. Since that moment the Kurds have fought for their independence.

In 2013, the Islamic State (IS) attacked the enclaves of Kurds whose territories bordered with northern Syria which was under the IS control. This attacks lasted until 2014, when the People‘s Protection Units (YPG) – that belong to the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) – succeeded in repelling them. However, in the same year, the IS attacked northern Iraq. The Peshmerga – the forces of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region – were also involved in the fight. After a surprise attack from the IS, the Peshmerga had to back off from many areas. This allowed the IS to take some of the territories under its control. In 2017, the Kurds together with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – local Arab militias – and the US-led multinational coalition. In this way they succeeded in regaining all the territories controlled by the IS.

The Kurdish People and the US Troops

Turkey and the Kurdish people who lived on its territory have a long history of conflicts. More specifically, the first tried to suppress Kurdish culture in the past. The latter, on the other hand, has a history of trying to form a Kurdish state on the Territory of Turkey. Therefore, for the Turkish government, the presence of Kurdish near its borders was a threat.

President Donald Trump had been planning for a long time to withdraw the American Army from Syria. In fact, he ordered the withdrawal last December. However, his defense secretary resigned as a sign of protest to the president’s decision. However, he changed his mind on October 6th after a phone call with the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and he ordered American troops to withdraw. The consequence of this decision is that the former territories controlled by the Kurds were captured by Turkey and Syrian Arabs. Moreover, since the Kurdish fighters are weakened, the Islamic State may regain power and so may do the Syrian government. The withdrawal of american troops also means that Russia and Iran may strengthen theirt influence on the territory.

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