Military conflict over competing visions of governance and autonomy escalated in the s and s. Kurdish guerrilla peshmerga activities in the region increased.
The United States and the Kurds: Taking advantage of the establishment of an autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq, the PKK has been escalating their raids into Turkey, prompting the October 17 decision by the Turkish parliament to authorize military action within Iraq.
The Kurds are a nation of more than 30 million people divided among six countries, primarily in what is now northern Iraq and southeastern Turkey and with smaller numbers in northeastern Syria, northwestern Iran and the Caucuses.
They are the world's largest nation without a state of their own. Their struggle for self-determination has been hampered by the sometime bitter rivalry between competing nationalist groups, some of which have been used as pawns by regional powers as well as by the United States.
The Beginnings At the Versailles Conference, in which the victorious allies of World War I were carving up the remnants of the Ottoman Empire, President Woodrow Wilson unsuccessfully pushed for the establishment of an independent Kurdistan.
Since that time, however, U. For example, in the mids, in conjunction with the dictatorial Shah of Iran, the United States goaded Iraqi Kurds into launching an armed uprising against the then left-leaning Iraqi government with the promise of continued military support.
However, the United States abandoned them precipitously as part of an agreement with the Baghdad regime for a territorial compromise favorable to Iran regarding the Shatt al-Arab waterway. Suddenly without supply lines to obtain the necessary equipment to defend themselves, the Iraqi army marched into Kurdish areas and thousands were slaughtered.
Then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger dismissed concerns about the humanitarian consequences of this betrayal by saying that "Covert action should not be confused with missionary work.
Strong Iranian support for the PUK made virtually all Kurds potential traitors in the eyes of Saddam Hussein's regime, which responded with savage repression.
In the latter part of the decade, in what became known as the Anfal campaign, as many as 4, Kurdish villages were destroyed, more thanKurdish civilians were killed and more than one million Iraqi Kurds--nearly one-quarter of the Iraqi Kurdish population--were displaced.
Despite this, the United States increased its support for Saddam Hussein's regime during this period, providing agricultural subsidies and other economic aid as well as limited military assistance.
American officials looked the other way as much of these funds were laundered by purchasing military equipment despite widespread knowledge that it was being deployed as part of Baghdad's genocidal war against the Kurds. The United States also sent an untold amount of indirect aid--largely through Kuwait and other Arab countries--which enabled Iraq to receive weapons and technology to increase its war-making capacity.
The March Iraqi attacks on the Kurdish town of Halabja--where Iraq government forces massacred upwards to 5, civilians by gassing them with chemical weapons--was downplayed by the Reagan administration, even to the point of leaking phony intelligence claiming that Iran, then the preferred American enemy, was actually responsible.
The Halabja tragedy was not an isolated incident, as U. UN reports in and documented Iraq's use of chemical weapons, which were confirmed both by investigations from the CIA and from U. However, not only was the United States not particularly concerned about the ongoing repression and the use of chemical weapons, the United States actually was supporting the Iraqi government's procurement efforts of materials necessary for the development of such an arsenal.
When a Senate Foreign Relations committee staff report brought to light Saddam Hussein's policy of widespread killings of Kurdish civilians in northern Iraq, Senator Claiborne Pell introduced "The Prevention of Genocide Act" to put pressure on the Iraqi government.
However, the Reagan administration--insisting on being able to continue its military and economic support of Saddam Hussein's regime--successfully moved to have the measure killed. This history of appeasement raises serious questions regarding the sincerity of both the strategic and moral concerns subsequently raised by U.
Military intervention against Saddam's regime could have arguably been considered legal during this period under provisions of the Genocide Treaty. It could not, however, justify such military intervention retroactively a full fifteen years later, as argued by the Bush administration and its supporters.
It was therefore disingenuous in the extreme to justify the U. The suffering of the Kurdish people under Saddam's rule was shamelessly used as an excuse, but should under no circumstances be considered an actual motivation, for the American conquest. Indeed, as a result of the destruction of most of the Iraqi air force in the Gulf War, the establishment of an international embargo prohibiting the import of needed spare parts and the lack of domestic sources effectively grounding what remained, the post-Gulf War autonomy exercised by the Kurdish population, and the strict enforcement of a "no-fly zone" covering most Kurdish-populated areas in northern Iraq, the regime in Baghdad no longer had the capacity to engage in such large-scale repression, even if Saddam Hussein had remained in power.
With the Iraqi army already devastated from six weeks of massive assaults by the United States and allied forces and then forced to fight a simultaneous Shiite-led rebellion in southern Iraq, the Kurds initially made major advances, seizing a series of key towns.
These gains were soon reversed by a brutal counter-attack by Iraqi government forces, however. In the cease-fire agreement following the expulsion of Iraqi occupation forces from Kuwait, the United States made a conscious decision to exclude Iraqi helicopter gunships from the ban on Iraqi military air traffic.
These were the very weapons that proved so decisive in crushing the rebellions. By the end of Marchas many one million Kurds had fled their homes to escape advancing Iraqi government forces. Most were able to flee to safety in Iran, but the U. Without food, water, or shelter, as many as 1, refugees reportedly died each day.
With the humanitarian crisis growing, the United Nations Security Council passed resolutiondemanding that the Iraqi government immediately end the repression and allow access for humanitarian organizations to provide relief and calling on member states to contribute to humanitarian operations.
By July, most U. At the request of Turkey, concerned about the detrimental impact on its relations with Iraq and Iran, U.Population: million The people living in the Kurdistan Region are Kurds as well as Assyrians, Chaldeans, Turkmen, Armenians and Arabs.
The Region has a young and growing population, with 36% aged years, and only 4% aged over Estimates of the Kurdish population in the United Kingdom are as high as ,  In Denmark, there is a significant number of Iraqi .
Between 25 and 35 million Kurds inhabit a mountainous region straddling the borders of Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran and Armenia.
They make up the fourth-largest ethnic group in the Middle East, but. "It has been the Iraqi regime’s policy to change the demography of Iraq, by eradicating the Kurdish population from areas that are deemed important in the north of the country.
The regime has done this through forced deportation, arbitrary arrests, and systematic torture.". The focus of the dissertation specified to the researcher, as part of academic course requirement, is to investigate and analyse the factors responsible for the treatment of the Kurdish population by the Iraqi regime under Saddam Hussein.
The United States and the Kurds: A Brief History sincerity of both the strategic and moral concerns subsequently raised by U.S.
officials about both the nature of the Iraqi regime and the treatment of the Kurdish population. the post-Gulf War autonomy exercised by the Kurdish population, and the strict enforcement of a "no-fly zone.