Conflicts in the Middle East: The Kurdish National Question

By Emadi, Hafizullah | Contemporary Review, August 1992 | Go to article overview

Conflicts in the Middle East: The Kurdish National Question


Emadi, Hafizullah, Contemporary Review


THE Kurds are the largest minority in the Middle East which has been subjected to national oppression in countries where they reside. The Kurdish struggle for autonomy has been a most explosive component of the national liberation struggle in the Middle East. The Kurds have been fighting for autonomy in their respective countries since the First World War. Kurdish nationalist thinking has defined the Kurdish movement: |The Kurds constitute a single nation which has occupied its present habitat for at least three thousand years. They have outlived the rise and fall of many imperial races: Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Mongols, Turks. They have their own history, language and culture. Their homeland has been unjustly partitioned. But they are the original owners, not strangers to be tolerated as minorities with limited concessions granted at the whim of usurpers'.(1) The overwhelming majority of the Kurds live in Turkey, Iraq and Iran and their struggle against national oppression and for autonomy in one country has contributed to the development of the struggle in the other country.

The Kurds are a distinct ethno-linguistic community residing primarily in Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria as well as Lebanon and the former Soviet Union. There are no precise data to show the exact number of the Kurdish population. The Kurds claim that there are approximately 20 million Kurds in the Middle East but a conservative estimate in 1980 indicates that there are approximately 16,320,000 Kurds. The following table shows population distribution of the Kurdish communities in 1980.

Country    Total Population          Kurds      Percentage
Turkey        44,500,000           8,455,000        19
Iraq          13,500,000           3,105,000        23
Iran          37,700,000           3,701,000        10
Syria          9,200,000             734,000         8
Lebanon        2,981,000(*)           60,000       2.1
USSR/CIS     264,519,000(*)          265,000       0.12
                            Total 16,320,000
Sources: David McDowell. The Kurds (London: The Minority Rights Group, 1985),
P-7; (*) CIA. National Basic intelligence Factbook (Washington, DC. 1980),
pp. 111-201.

The majority of the Kurds are Sunni Muslim and speak their own language -- Kurdi. Although the Kurds do not have an independent nation of their own, they have always aspired for an independent nation -- Kurdistan. Prior to the First World War the Kurds were divided between the Ottoman and Persian empires. In the post-war Treaty of Sevres, the Allied powers promised to create an independent homeland for the Kurds.(2) The Sevres Treaty was signed by representatives of both the Allied and the Turkish government in August 1920 but it was not endorsed by the Turkish National Assembly. In November 1922 the Turkish monarchy was overthrown and Mustafa Kemal Ataturk seized power and suppressed the Kurds' struggle for self-determination. In the post-war period the Kurds were further divided. Small enclaves were incorporated into French dominated Syria and the Ottoman province of Mosul, occupied by the British as the war ended, annexed to the British dominated Iraq.

The Kurds enjoyed a measure of freedom in the Soviet Union. They had their own schools, textbooks, press and a radio station broadcasting programmes in Kurdish language for the entire Kurdish community in the Middle East. The Kurdish population is relatively small in Syria and Lebanon. They had effectively been assimilated into the dominant Arab culture. However, most Kurds may speak their own language, they are |either half or wholly arabicized, that is they feel they belong now to the local Arab culture.'(3) The Kurds had been subjected to national oppression in Turkey, Iraq and Iran. The Kurdish struggle against national oppression has held sway across the Kurdistan landscape in these countries. In the past such struggles had flared up and retreated only to suddenly erupt again. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Conflicts in the Middle East: The Kurdish National Question
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.