Thus, while the Kurds of the North are in many respects essentially different from those of the far South, both in general appearance and even in language, there are certain characteristics of both that mark them all as being of one race. Probably no absolute distinction can be drawn between the different sections. In general, however, it is legitimate to accept the classification of some of those who have made careful study of them.
The Washington Post reported that in exchange for the use of Turkish bases, the U.S. government "promised to prevent Kurds from imposing a federation-style government in postwar Iraq that would ensure their continued autonomy" and agreed to allow Turkish troops to occupy several hundred square miles of northern Iraq "to prevent a flow of refugees into Turkey and maintain stability and security in the region." "Basically, the Kurds have been handed over to the Turkish government," states Kani Xulam, director of the American Kurdish Information Network.
The Kurds of Iraq have been making headlines for many decades: in the eighties and early nineties mostly as victims of brutal suppression, in the mid-nineties as victims of each other’s heavy in-fighting, and since then mainly through their success in achieving a high degree of independence and prosperity within Iraq.
Kurdish culture is a strong and mighty tree with deep roots,” [Ihsan Colemerikli, a Kurdish intellectual,] says. “Turks, Persians and Arabs have spent centuries trying to cut off this tree’s water so it would wither and die. But in the last 15 to 20 years there has been a new surge of water, so the tree is blossoming very richly.”
The largest nation on earth lacking any form of self-determination, the Kurds, numbering 30 Million, live in a homeland that was partitioned among four states after World War I. Unrepresented at the U.N. or any international platform, critical issues about the Kurds are discussed in the world capitals, but Kurdish voices are rarely heard. The largest parts of the Kurdish homeland fall within the boundaries of Turkey and Iraq, with Iran and Syria claiming a smaller share.
Although the Kurds comprise a distinct ethnic group, they have historically been divided by class, regional, and sectarian differences similar to those affecting ethnic Turks. Religious divisions have often been a source of conflict among the Kurds.
Over time, the Kurds' physical location on the border of empires and modern nation-states had a significant impact on Kurdish identity. Kurds see themselves as not only existing without a state, but as existing between and across states. This influences how they have viewed external powers and gives them a highly tactical view of alliances.
There are currently 25 million Kurds ... in Turkey (12 million), Iraq (3.5 million), Iran and Syria.
A non-Arabic people, they are largely Sunni Muslim, ethnically and linguistically close to the Iranians.
Said to be the world's largest ethnic group without a country of its own, the Kurds have a history that goes back more than 2,000 years.
"Kurdistan" was an ethnic mosaic of shifting tribal alliances that had been divided historically among the Ottoman, Persian, and Russian empires. It has never been a unified nation, but the territory of the Kurds inside the Ottoman empire, a politically and linguistically diverse area, had been carved up after World War I, the land parceled out to Iraq, Turkey, and Syria.
…during the past decade the Kurds have steadily grown in importance. It is difficult to imagine the will sink again into the relative obscurity of the middle years of this century. Today they have emerged, not quite yet as a coherent nation, nevertheless as an ethnic community that can no longer be ignored.
...it should be clear that the early history of the Kurds cannot be reconstructed with any certainty. Unfortunately, the scarcity of evidence and the romanticizing of the Kurds by Americans and Europeans (they are seen as straigh- forward, outgoing, jolly-good-fellows in opposition to the conniv- ing, double-dealing, cowardly Persians) has resulted in an out- pouring of pseudo-scholarly nonsense, propounding wild theories that can never be conclusively disproved.
The Arab world’s view of the Kurds changed over time. Iraqis and Arabs recognize today the need to address the Kurdish question in ways that appeal to basic rights, and human development and autonomy .
The Kurds themselves claim to be the descendants of the Medes who helped overthrow the Assyrian Empire in 612 BCE, and also recite interesting myths about their origins involving King Solomon, jinn, and other magical agents.