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The Struggle and the Ideals of the Kurds (19th-20th Century)

The Struggle and the Ideals of the Kurds (19th-20th Century)
Kurds are the largest ethnic group in the world that does not have a homeland. Genocide with chemical weapons carried out by Iraq against the Kurds, in October 1988 has become one of the darkest histories for the tribe. In 1988, at least Iraq launched attacks with chemical weapons on Kurdish residents. The incident sparked criticism from various countries in the world.

Although criticism came from various parties, it did not have much impact on the Kurds. They remain a tribe without a homeland and become a minority in the area they occupy. In an effort to fight for their ideals, the Kurds played a number of roles in important events that took place in Asia Minor and the Middle East in the 20th century. Starting from the Sevres agreement to the Gulf war involving Iraq and Iran.

Historical Background of the Kurds


The Kurds are an Indo-European tribes who predominantly adhere to Sunni Islam. Kurds are the fourth largest ethnic group in the Middle East, after Arabia, Turkey and Persia. Approximately 15% of the Middle Eastern population.

They live in an area called Kurdistan (land of Kurds). The Kurdistan region is found in several countries, such as southeast Turkey, northern Iran, northern Iraq, southern Soviet, and northern Syria.

The biggest Kurdistan region is in three countries, namely Turkey, Iraq and Iran. In the 20th century, there were an estimated 18 million Kurds as a whole, with 8 million in details in Turkey, 5 million in Iran, 3.4 million in Iraq, and the rest spread in Syria and former Soviet areas. This number has increased at the beginning of the 21st century, the number of Kurds has increased to around 30-32 million.

Kurdistan is not a country, so it cannot be found on modern maps. The term Kurdistan was first used as an expression of geography by the Saljuk Turks in the 12th century and became a general term in the 16th century. Where many Kurdish territories fell into Ottoman and Safavid control.

The Kurds came from the Medes tribe who entered Parsi from the Central Asia region. They controlled the mountains of Persia from 614-550 BC. After the arrival of the Islamic Arab forces to the mountainous region of Parsi in the 7th century, the majority of them eventually converted to Islam. Until now, there are two main groups of Kurdish Muslims, 75% Sunni and 15% are Shiites.

One of the famous figures from the Kurds is Salahuddin al-Ayubbi. The main figure in the Third Crusade was a Muslim leader in dealing with the Crusaders. However, Salahuddin's struggle at that time was in the name of Islam, not as a Kurd.

The Kurds only began to fight for the fate of their nation at the end of the 19th century, precisely in 1880. At that time a rebellion led by Kurdish figures, Shaykh Ubaydullah in the Hakari province under the Ottoman rule.

In 1897, Kurds began publishing newspapers named Kurdistan. The newspaper was funded by one of the famous Kurdish families, Badr Khan. The publication of this newspaper aims to disseminate information about the culture and struggle of the Kurds.

Twenty years later, in 1919, the Kurdish leader, Syaikh Mahmud, proclaimed the Sulaymaniah region as an area independent of British rule. But the British managed to thwart the effort. Despite its failure, the Sulaymaniah event was recorded as the first major uprising in the 20th century.

Syaikh Mahmud's efforts had a major influence on the movement of Kurds in the regions of Iran, Iraq and Turkey. In 1919-1922, under the leadership of Ismail Agha Simitqo, Kurds in Iran and Turkey, struggled to obtain a semi-autonomous region along the Iran-Turkey northwestern border region.

The agreement of the 1920 Sevres treaty, by the Allies and Ottomans, benefited the Kurdish struggle. This is because in the agreement it was agreed to establish an independent Kurdistan region, which had previously been under the Ottoman rule. Although in its development the agreement was not irregular for the Kurds.

In 1923, Syaikh Ahmad Barzani and Mullah Mustafa Barzani began a long campaign to gain autonomy for the Kurdistan region in Iraq. Mullah Mustafa later founded the Kurdish Democratic Party. Besides the Kurdish Democratic Party, another Kurdish party in Iraq was named the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan which was founded by Jalal Talabani.

In Iran, Kurds also formed a political party. Kurdish political parties in Iran were first established in 1942. Three years later, the second Kurdish political party was named the Iranian Kurdish Democratic Party. In the same year, the party succeeded in bringing together all Kurdish movements, including Komola. They then proclaimed the founding of the Republic of Mahabad with its president Qazi Mohammad.

The Mahabad Republic is the only independent Kurdish country in history. However, this country is only one year old, because in 1946 the Iranian Shah forces invaded Mahabad and dispersed the republic. A number of Kurdish leaders, including Qazi Mohammad, were arrested and executed.

In the territory of Turkey, the Kurds were recorded three times carrying out a major rebellion, first in 1925, then in 1930, and finally in 1937. The entire attempt at the revolt ended in failure. As a result, many Kurds were massacred and deported by the Turkish government.

The Kurdish Tribe


As previously explained, the Kurds have been struggling to obtain a homeland since the 19th century. The Treaty of Sevres in 1920 which was one of its contents guaranteeing Kurdish independence, in reality never materialized. The main obstacle to the realization of the agreement was the spread of the Kurdistan region in several countries, which made it difficult to form a Kurdish state. In addition, there is a lack of commitment from countries participating in the agreement to realize independence for Kurds.

Based on that reality, the ideals of the Kurds have changed. If they had previously dreamed of establishing an independent Kurdistan country, now they only craved an autonomous region of Kurdistan. These ideals that they are now fighting for.

In Turkey, although the number of Kurds is the most compared to other Kurdistan regions, they can be said to be immobile. The policy of repression and integration that the Turkish government has consistently implemented from year to year has resulted in the crippling Kurdish warriors.

The Turkish army did not hesitate to attack fighters in Iraqi Kurdistan, as they did in 1983, 1984, 1986 and 1987. Based on the testimony of Kurds in the Journeys in Kurdistan book, Turkish forces were an army which was stunned followed by Arab forces . This is even more ironic, because regimes in Turkey, Iraq and Iran (until 1979) formed cooperation to quell the Kurdish rebellion.

In Iran, Kurds who inhabit the Khuzastan province have been demanding autonomy in their territory since the time of the Iran Shah. When the Iranian Revolution erupted, Kurds joined Khomeini's ranks. After the revolution, the Kurds filed three demands on the mullah regime, namely the autonomy of the Kurdistan province, eliminating discrimination in employment, and distributing oil mining products fairly.

The Khomaeni regime refused to grant autonomy to Kurdistan province. He does not want the oil-rich Khuzastan region of Iran, because the region is one of Iran's main foreign exchange earners.

The mullah government in practice managed to reduce the Peshmarga movement. Even Kurds are siding with Iran in the Gulf War when Iraqi forces invaded Kurdistan in Iran.

The same action with different consequences also occurred when Iranian forces stormed into Iraqi Kurdistan. The Peshmarga are shoulder to shoulder with Iranian forces to fight Iraqi forces. It can be said that the success of Iran in taking Kurdistan in Iraq in early 1988, cannot be separated from the contribution of the Kurds. Not surprisingly after the end of the Gulf War I, Saddam Hussein was so angry at the Kurds. He tried to storm the base of the peshmarga which he labeled "traitors".

Hostilities with Saddam Hussein's Regime


In 1982, for the first time in history, two major Kurdish Iraqi parties, the Kurdish Democratic Party led by Masoud Barzani and the Kurdistan Patriotic Union led by Jalal Talabani, agreed to unite against Saddam's regime. Both the Kurdish Democratic Party and the Kurdistan Patriotic Union get support from Iran, whether political support or weapons.

The participation of Kurds in the Gulf I War was very detrimental to the Iraqi side. The climax, in 1988 Iraqi forces launched a large-scale attack with chemical weapons against the Kurdish population.

The first attack began in March 1988, where the Iraqi Air Force bombarded chemical bombs in the city of Halabjah located in the Iraqi Kurdistan region. The incident killed around 4000 Kurds.

The second attack, took place on August 25 to September 5. Kurds residing in the villages of Butia, Mesi, Amadiyah and a number of other villages were victims of the second attack. The attack killed around 2,500 Kurds and resulted in around 60,000 Kurds fleeing to Turkey and Iran.

This second attack caused a wave of criticism in the international community. In October 1988, the European parliament condemned and appealed to its members to issue sanctions on Saddam's regime. Meanwhile, the United States Senate urged President Ronald Reagan to impose economic sanctions on Baghdad.

The only country that expressly stopped cooperation with Iraq was Japan. They stopped sending materials that could be used to make chemical weapons. Although some countries condemn Iraq's use of chemical weapons against Kurds. However, they did not fully support the Kurdish struggle to realize their ideals. Until now, Kurds are still struggling to realize their ideals.

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