- As the leading Western power until well into the 20th century, Britain long played an important role in the affairs of the Ottoman Empire and thus had occasion to influence Kurdish affairs. The Sykes-Picot Agreement between Britain and France divided up the Middle East after World War I. Britain artificially created and then ruled Iraq as a mandate of the League of Nations until 1932 and indeed continued to hold great influence in Iraq until the monarchy was overthrown in 1958.During the 1920s and 1930s, Britain used its air force and other assets to put down several Kurdish revolts led by Sheikh Mahmud Barzinji and later by the Barzanis. After the Gulf War in 1991, Britain soon became the only ally of the United States enforcing the no-fly zone that protected the de facto Kurdish state from intervention at the hands of Saddam Hussein. Britain also associated itself with the U.S. attempts to implement numerous peace plans involving the Iraqi Kurds and their internal fighting during the 1990s. It was also the only major state that supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 that overthrew Saddam Hussein.It is estimated that 20,000 to 30,000 Kurds presently live in Britain, two-thirds of whom are from Turkey. The majority is under 40 years of age and has families of five or more members with few job qualifications. In recent years there has been considerable controversy in Britain over Kurdish asylum seekers. Exeter University and the Kurdish Human Rights Project are located in Britain.See also Refugees.
Historical Dictionary of the Kurds. Michael M. Gunter.
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