The history of Kurdistan

Early story

Kurdistan is part of the Fertile Crescent region, which was populated in history by many ancient cultures and empires. The Hattians and the succeeding Hittites settled in the Bronze Age between 2500 BC. Chr. And 1200 v. Chr. Northwestern Asia Minor and thus the western areas of today's Kurdistan.

Their empire ended in the context of the onset of migration. However, the Hittite culture survived until about 700 BC. In various small states in eastern Anatolia, for example in Malatya, Zincirli, Karkemisch and Tabal.

After the destruction of the Hittite empire, the Phrygians built a kingdom under their king Midas, which in the 9th and 8th centuries BC. Anatolia dominated. Since 850 BC BC existed on Lake Van the kingdom Urartu. The Armenian kingdom attained in the first century BC. Its greatest expansion under King Tigran the Great.


After the decay of the Ottoman Empire

Today's Iraqi Kurdistan was until 1918 as Mosul province part of the Ottoman Empire.

After the defeat of the empire in the First World War, it was divided by the victorious powers. In the province of Mosul, the Kurds made up the majority of the population. According to US President Woodrow Wilson's 14-point program, this would have given them the right to self-determination. Therefore, it was recognized in the Treaty of Sèvres on 10 August 1920 that the Mosul region should become part of a larger Kurdish state.

In reality, however, the former Ottoman province of Mosul became a colonial area of interest. In the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916, it was originally added to France, but United Kingdom sat down in early November 1918 in Mosul. At the Sanremo Conference, on April 25, 1920, the British delegated their mandate over Mesopotamia to the League of Nations. This included Mosul, the former Ottoman provinces of Baghdad and Basra. The Kurdish-populated area was considered due to its oil resources as particularly important for the newly formed state. On August 23, 1921, the Kingdom of Iraq was finally founded to represent the interests of the British in the Middle East.

France accepted early British influence over Iraqi Kurdistan, as a French company received shares in Iraqi oil. Turkey, however, rebelled after the victorious war of liberation against the new political order, because on the one hand they did not want to tolerate a state in the northern Kurdish areas of settlement and on the other hand claimed the Mosul area: in the Treaty of Lausanne on July 24, 1923, the Treaty of Sèvres revised in favor of Turkey. An independent Kurdish state was now no longer required internationally, which was also in the interests of Great Britain. Thus, the quartering of the Kurdish regions to the states of Iraq and Turkey, the French League Mandate for Syria and Persia was completed. However, Turkey could not prevail on the Mosul issue: on December 16, 1925, the League of Nations in favor of Great Britain decided that the Mosul region should remain with Iraq. From this point onwards, every conflict between Iraqi Kurdistan and the central government was an internal Iraqi affair.

From the beginning there was a Kurdish opposition to the British-Iraqi rule. Already in May / June 1919 Mehmûd Berzincî, who had been appointed governor of Sulaimaniyya, rebelled against the British, but was defeated with the help of the Royal Air Force. On November 18, 1922, Mehmûd proclaimed the Kingdom of Kurdistan in Sulaimaniya. The British bombed and occupied the city in June / July 1923 and May 1924, and ended Mehmut's uprising.


During the Iraqi monarchy

From the beginning there was a Kurdish opposition to the British-Iraqi rule. Already in May / June 1919 Mehmûd Berzincî, who had been appointed governor of Sulaimaniyya, rebelled against the British, but was defeated with the help of the Royal Air Force. On November 18, 1922, Mehmûd proclaimed the Kingdom of Kurdistan in Sulaimaniya. The British bombed and occupied the city in June / July 1923 and May 1924, and ended Mehmut's uprising. On June 30, 1930, the last Anglo-Iraqi treaty was concluded, preparing for the end of the British Mandate and regulating the future relationship of the two countries. The status of the Kurds was not included in this agreement. In September 1930, there were protests in Sulaimaniya, which resulted in a last survey of Mehmûd. After the suppression of the uprising in April 1931, he was put under house arrest in Baghdad for the rest of his life.

The first uprisings of the Kurds were not yet national surveys, but limited to individual tribes. From the 1930s, the resistance movement became increasingly broader. The Barzan region under Ahmed Barzani participated in November 1931 in the fight against the Iraqi central government. In June 1932, Ahmed fled to Turkey with his younger brother Mustafa Barzani, from whom they were extradited to Iraq two years later. Mustafa Barzani escaped exile in 1943, led a renewed uprising and demanded autonomy for Iraqi Kurdistan. Militarily, he was able to assert himself with guerrilla warfare. After the intervention of the British Air Force in the war, Barzani fled in October 1945 with 3,000 insurgents in Iran. There, on January 22, 1946, with the support of the Soviet Union, the Kurdish Republic of Mahabad was founded, in whose defense Barzani participated. In Iranian exile Barzani founded in January 1946, the Kurdish Freedom Party (Kurdish Rizgari Kurd), which was renamed on 16 August in Democratic Party of Kurdistan (Kurdish Partiya Demokrata Kurdistanê). After the fall of the Republic of Mahabad Barzani returned on April 28, 1947 with about 500 fighters back to Iraq, to start a month later, on May 27, 1947, the next uprising. This led on 15 June 1947 to escape to the Soviet Union. There Barzani spent the next eleven years in exile.


During the Iraqi Republic

In 1958, the Iraqi monarchy ended after a military coup under Abd al-Karim Qasim. Since 1958, Iraq has been defined as the state of two nations - the Arabs and the Kurds. The Kurds in northern Iraq led by Mustafa Barzani demanded autonomy, which led to an uprising against the central government on September 11, 1961. Two days later, the Iraqi government bombarded Barzan village - the birthplace of Mustafa Barzani. From 16 September to 10 October 1961, the Iraqi army intensified its military offensive against the Kurdish resistance movement. During this period, the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) was formally dissolved by the government on 23 September. In mid-November Barzani asked the United Nations for help. Iran provided military aid and provided weapons and ammunition.

On January 10, 1963, the Iraqi government offered the Kurds amnesty if they lay down their arms. After the seizure of power by the Baath Party negotiations took place from 19 February to 1 March 1963 between the two parties to the conflict, which failed, however. In June 1963, the central government again launched an offensive against the KDP rebels. In this attack, 165 rebels died in Duhok on June 13, 1963. The attacks continued. In support of the Iraqi army, the Syrian government sent 5,000 troops to Iraq. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union accused the Iraqis of genocide against the Kurds.

The climax of the conflict occurred on 4 August 1963, when the Iraqi forces completely occupied Barzan. After the temporary overthrow of the Baath government, in February 1964, President Abd-as-Salam Arif and Mustafa Barzani agreed to resume negotiations. On 15 February, negotiations between the parties to the conflict in Baghdad began. In April 1965, another military conflict between Kurdish rebels and Iraqi troops occurred in the Sulaimaniyya region. During the conflict from 1961 to 1966, about 10,000 people were killed and 80,000 injured.

On June 30, 1966, Iraq announced an amnesty for KDP rebels. By the end of September 1968, there were no further military conflicts. In October 1968, however, the conflict continued again.

On March 23, 1969, the Iraqi government offered the Kurds the right to self-determination. From September 1969 to March 1970, negotiations on the self-determination of the Kurds took place between KDP representatives and the central government in Baghdad. On March 11, 1970, both parties signed a 15-point peace treaty.

The conflict ended with the agreement of March 11, 1970 ("Manifesto of March 11") and the establishment and recognition of the Kurdish Autonomous Region in Iraq. The agreement also accepted the holding of a referendum in the oil-rich Kirkuk. However, both the Baath government and Barzani agreed to fulfill the manifesto's agreements not immediately, but in a four-year cycle. As part of a 1973 formed National Progressive Front should also Barzani KDP be involved in the government of the Iraqi state, but this led to the division of the KDP. Not all of the arrangements were met by the Baath government to the satisfaction of Mustafa Barzani. Another point of controversy arose when defining the boundaries of the autonomous area. Mohammad Pahlavi, the Iranian Shah, participated indirectly in this dispute. He assured the Kurds, in consultation with the United States, military and financial assistance if they would enforce autonomy by force against the government. This offer was made by Barzani. In April 1974, the war between the two sides began again. Compared to the previous military clashes, the Baath leadership now used phosphorous bombs against the Kurds.

A Kurdish Legislative Council (Parliament) and a Kurdish Executive Council (Government) in Erbil should partially autonomously govern this area. In fact, the Legislative Council, and thus the entire area, was under the control of Baghdad. The plan was to establish a Kurdish Academy of Sciences and expand health care and education to less developed areas that had suffered from the previous struggles. Kurdish became the official language for the first time.

Until 1975 and during the Iraqi-Iranian War of 1980-1988, most of the three provinces were in fact not under the control of the Iraqi central government. It was present only in the provincial capitals and large places with Iraqi garrisons.

In 1975, Iran and Iraq, through the Algiers Agreement, decided not to interfere in the internal politics of the other country. This agreement meant that Iran's support for the Kurdish uprising ended abruptly. A few days later, Iraq launched the next military offensive against the KDP rebels; who now fought without the help of Iran. They suffered a heavy defeat. Later that year, Mustafa Barzani withdrew from politics and ended the uprising. As part of the Arabization policy of the Ba'ath regime, some 200,000 Kurds were deported to the south of the country between May 1975 and April 1976.

In 1983, a new rebellion against the Iraqi central government began. The regime under Saddam Hussein responded with the systematic assassinations and deportations of Kurds during the Anfal operation. In 1988, the Iraqi Air Force launched a poison gas attack on the city of Halabja.


De facto autonomy since 1991 seit 1991

After the defeat of the Baath regime Saddam Hussein in the Second Gulf War, the Kurds rose in the rebellion of 1991 (Raperîn). The United States, the United Kingdom and Turkey set up a no-fly zone for the Iraqi Air Force in Northern Iraq with Operation Northern Watch. Under this protection from the Baghdad central government, the Kurdish population was able to build up a degree of independence. On 19 May 1992, a parliamentary election was held in which the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) received 51 seats and the Democratic Party of Kurdistan (DPK) 49 seats. The DPK subsequently controlled the north of the Autonomous Region, the PUK the south. The relationship between the two parties was strained and led in 1994 to a Kurdish civil war in which Baghdad and Iran were also involved. As a result of the conflict, two Kurdish administrations emerged - one in Erbil and one in Sulaimaniyya.

In August 1996, the parliament ended the state of emergency in the Kurdish provinces, but gave the army leadership powers over military operations, arrests and censorship in all provinces of the country. The Turkish army leadership rejected in January 1997 a ceasefire offer of the PKK; On 14 May 1997, Turkish associations invaded the autonomous region of Kurdistan in northern Iraq up to 200 km.


Consolidation of autonomy

In 2003, the Kurdish regional government took part in the Iraq war on the part of the American-led coalition of the willing and was able to increase their influence. Even before the adoption of the new constitution of Iraq, the autonomous region of Kurdistan was recognized by the central government by a special law. In the Constitution, the local government of the Iraqi regions was created and endowed with almost complete sovereignty; an indirect, constitutional safeguard of autonomy rights acquired by the Kurdistan Region. The final size of the Kurdistan region should be clarified later. Elections to the new Kurdish parliament took place on January 30, 2005, in addition to the elections to the Iraqi National Assembly, the latter also with the aim of overcoming the DPK-PUK conflict and uniting the administrations in Erbil and Sulaimaniyya.

On June 13, 2005, after months of negotiations on the nature and occupation of the presidency, the parliament in Erbil was convened and Masud Barzani was elected president of the region. Prime Minister was his nephew Nêçîrvan Idrîs Barzanî. On January 30, the non-binding independence referendum took place.

On January 21, 2006, the two major parties finally agreed on merging the two administrations. On May 7, 2006, the reunified parliament gathered in Erbil for the first time. Masud and Nêçîrvan Barzani were confirmed in their offices. The ministerial posts were divided among the parties.