Chronology


Chronology
401 BCE Kardouchoi harass retreating Greeks, as recorded by Xenophon in his Anabasis. Mid-7th century CE Kurds are Islamicized. 1169 Saladin (most famous Kurd) establishes Ayyubid dynasty in Egypt and Syria. 1187 Saladin defeats Crusaders at the Battle of Hattin and captures Jerusalem. 1189 Saladin battles Richard the Lion Hearted. 1514 Battle of Chaldiran establishes Ottoman-Persian empires' frontier in Kurdistan. 1543-1603 Sharaf Khan Bitlisi is the author of the Kurdish history Sharafnama. 1609-10 Dimdim, Kurdish mountain fortress in western Iran, falls to Persians and all its defenders are killed. In effect, the Kurdish Masada. 1639 Treaty of Zuhab between the Ottoman and Persian empires formally establishes their borders. 1695 Ahmad-i Khani (1650-1706) writes Mem u Zin, the Kurdish national epic. 1811 Maulana Khalid begins to establish Naqshbandi Sufi order in what is now Iraqi Kurdistan. 1840s Barzanis establish themselves in Barzan. 1847 Badr Khan Beg, ruler of last semi-independent Kurdish emirate, surrenders to Ottomans. 1880 Sheikh Ubeydullah of Nehri's unsuccessful revolt. 1891 Ottoman sultan Abdul Hamid II creates Hamidiye, Kurdish cavalry. 1914-18 Kurds support Ottomans in World War I. 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement divides Middle East and thus Kurdistan. 1918 U.S. president Woodrow Wilson proclaims the Fourteen Points. British create Iraq; Sheikh Mahmud Barzinji begins decade of unsuccessful revolts in Iraq. 1919-22 Ismail Agha Simko leads large revolts in Persia. Kurds support Turkish War of Independence. 1920 Stillborn Treaty of Sevres provides for possible Kurdish independence. 1920s Red Kurdistan (Lachin) established in the Soviet Union. 1925 Turkey crushes Sheikh Said's rebellion. "Mountain Turks" (Kurds) repressed. 1927 October: Khoybun is established as a pan-Kurdish party. 1930 Turkey crushes Kurdish rebellion in Ararat area. Mulla Mustafa Barzani (1903-1979) begins to emerge in Iraq as preeminent Kurdish leader of the 20th century. July: Iranian Kurdish leader Ismail Agha Simko is assassinated by Iran. 1936 Saadabad Pact seeks to control Kurds. 1936-38 Turkey crushes Kurdish rebellion in Dersim (Tunceli). 1938 Words to Ey Raqip, the Kurdish national anthem, written. 1942 Komal J.K. founded in Mahabad. 1944 August: Three borders meeting of Kurdish leaders at Mt. Dalanpur. 1946 Mahabad Republic of Kurdistan exists in Iran. Nishtiman (Motherland) published. 16 August: (Iraqi) Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) is formed. 1947 31 March: Qazi Muhammad is hanged by Iran. 1947-58 Mulla Mustafa Barzani is exiled in the Soviet Union. 1955 Baghdad Pact is created, in part to control the Kurds. 1958 October: Mulla Mustafa Barzani returns to Iraq. 1961 September: Fighting begins between Barzani-led Iraqi Kurds and Iraqi government. Mid-1960s Fighting occurs between Barzani and KDP Politburo. 1970 March Manifesto in Iraq theoretically promises Kurdish autonomy. Renewed fighting occurs between Iraqi Kurds and Iraqi government. March: Algiers Agreement between Iraq and Iran ends Iranian support for Iraqi Kurds. Final defeat of Mulla Mustafa Barzani occurs. His son, Massoud Barzani, eventually emerges as his successor. 1975 1 June: Jalal Talabani creates (Iraqi) Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). 27 November: Abdullah (Apo) Ocalan creates Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Turkey. January: The shah leaves Iran; Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini assumes power. 16 July: Saddam Hussein becomes president of Iraq. 12 September: Turkish military coup occurs, followed by crackdown on Kurds. 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War involves the Kurds in both states. 1982 November: Current Turkish constitution contains many provisions repressing the Kurds. 1984 15 August: PKK insurgency begins in Turkey. March: PKK establishes Kurdistan National Liberation Front (ERNK). April: Village guards created in Turkey. October: PKK establishes Kurdistan Peoples Liberation Army (ARGK) in Turkey. 1987 Summer: Emergency rule established in southeastern Turkey. 1987-88 Saddam Hussein's genocidal Anfal campaigns against Iraqi Kurds. 16 March: Iraq launches chemical attack against Halabja. May: Iraqi Kurdistan Front is created. 13 July: Iranian leader Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou is assassinated in Vienna by Iranian agents. June: Peoples Labor Party (HEP) is created in Turkey as legal Kurdish party. Gulf War, Iraqi Kurdish uprising, and mass Kurdish refugee flight. United States creates Operation Provide Comfort, safe haven, and no-fly zone, resulting in de facto Kurdish state in northern Iraq. UN Security Council Resolution 688 condemns Iraqi repression of Iraqi Kurds. Antiterrorism law (Turkey) makes peaceful advocacy of Kurdish rights a crime. November: Suleyman Demirel becomes Turkish prime minister and recognizes the "Kurdish reality." 19 May: Elections are held in Iraqi Kurdistan. June-July: Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is created in Iraqi Kurdistan. 4 October: Turkey, KDP, and PUK begin fight against PKK in Iraqi Kurdistan. KRG parliament declares Iraqi Kurdistan a constituent state in a federal Iraq. 17 September: Iranian Kurdish leader Sadegh Sharafkandi is assassinated at the Mykonos restaurant in Berlin by Iranian agents. 27 October: The opposition Iraqi National Congress (INC) is formed. 1993 March-May: PKK implements unilateral cease-fire in Turkey. 17 April: Turkish president Turgut Ozal suddenly dies in office. May: Suleyman Demirel becomes president of Turkey. June: Peoples Labor Party (HEP) is banned in Turkey. Democracy Party (DEP) succeeds it. December: Fighting occurs between PUK and Islamists in Iraqi Kurdistan. 1994 March: DEP is banned and Leyla Zana is imprisoned. Peoples Democracy Party (HADEP) takes its place in Turkey. 1994-98 KDP-PUK civil war occurs in Iraqi Kurdistan. March: INC fails in coup attempt in Iraq after U.S. Central Intelligence Agency withdraws its support. 12 April: Kurdistan Parliament in Exile is created in Europe. 14 April: UN Security Council Resolution 986 establishes oil-for-food program that allows Iraq to sell limited amount of oil. Iraqi Kurds eventually begin to receive 13 percent of the funds. May: MED-TV begins to broadcast to the Middle East. August: PKK attacks KDP in Iraqi Kurdistan. 31 August: Saddam Hussein's troops enter Iraqi Kurdistan to help KDP fight against PUK and execute INC agents they capture. 1 January: Operation Northern Watch succeeds Operation Provide Comfort in enforcing no-fly zone over Iraqi Kurdistan. 20 February: UN Security Council Resolution 1153 increases amount of oil Iraq is allowed to sell. 17 September: Washington Accord ends KDP-PUK civil war. October: Syria expels Ocalan, who unsuccessfully seeks asylum in Europe. 16 February: Turkey captures Ocalan in Kenya and returns him to Turkey. Ocalan calls for democracy in Turkey and an end to armed struggle. May: Kurdistan National Congress (KNC/KNK) succeeds Kurdistan Parliament in Exile. 29 June: Turkey sentences Ocalan to death for treason. July: MEDYA-TV begins to broadcast as successor to MED-TV. September: Ocalan renews call for PKK to end its armed struggle and also calls for PKK to evacuate its fighters from Turkey. December: Ocalan's death sentence is put on hold. September and December: PUK fights against PKK in Iraqi Kurdistan. 18 February: Francis Hariri, a leading Christian member of KDP, is assassinated in Iraqi Kurdistan by Islamic extremists. September: Heavy fighting occurs between PUK and Jund al-Islam. February: PKK renames itself Kurdistan Freedom and Democracy Congress (KADEK) and then Kongra-Gel but eventually returns to the name PKK. August: Turkish parliament passes reform legislation abolishing the death penalty and supposedly providing for Kurdish education and broadcasting to meet European Union (EU) standards for admission. October: Ocalan's death sentence is commuted to life imprisonment. Reunified KRG parliament meets and reaffirms a federal status for Iraqi Kurdistan in a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq. 3 November: AK Party, with its roots in Islamic politics, wins tremendous electoral victory in Turkey. Recep Tayyip Erdogan eventually becomes new Turkish prime minister. December: Turkey ends Emergency Rule in last two provinces still having it. 14-17 December: Major Iraqi opposition conference held in London amid U.S. threats to invade Iraq and declares post-Saddam Hussein Iraq will be a democratic, parliamentary, and federal state. 1 March: Turkish parliament decides not to support U.S. invasion of Iraq, thus allowing Iraqi Kurds to become the main U.S. ally on the northern front. Pro-Kurdish HADEP Party banned in Turkey. 19 March: United States attacks and quickly defeats Iraq. Iraqi Kurds attack from the north and occupy Kirkuk and Mosul. 9 April: Saddam Hussein overthrown. U.S. general Jay Garner, friend of the Kurds, appointed proconsul of Iraq but quickly removed in favor of Paul Bremer, who disbands Iraqi army and abolishes Baath Party. Virulent sectarian insurgency soon begins, but KRG region is not involved. Interim Governing Council of 25 appointed, including Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani. 13 December: Saddam Hussein captured. ROJ-TV succeeds MEDYA-TV. February: Unofficial referendum in KRG votes almost unanimously for independence. 8 March: Transitional Administrative Law (TAL) promulgated in Iraq; it recognizes federalism for Kurds and gives them in effect a veto over the future permanent constitution of Iraq. 24 March: Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK) of Iran holds its first congress. 28 March: Osman Baydemir elected mayor of Diyarbakir, Turkey. June: PKK begins low-level fighting. 30 January: Iraqi national elections. Kurdistani List of KDP and PUK win 27 percent of the vote and come in second to the (Shiite) United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), with whom they eventually join in an interim coalitional government. Another unofficial referendum in the KRG region again almost unanimously calls for independence. 6 April: Jalal Talabani becomes interim president of Iraq, the first non-Arab president of an Arab-majority state. 12 June: Massoud Barzani elected president of the KRG by the Kurdish parliament. 14 June: Abdullah Demirbas, mayor of Sur municipality of Diyarbakir, Turkey, dismissed after attempting to offer multilingual services including Kurdish to its citizens, 72 percent of whom spoke Kurdish as their first language. 11 August: Abdul al-Hakim, the leader of the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (SIIC), proposes super-Shiite federal region in southern Iraq. 25 August: Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan declares Turkey has "Kurdish problem," has made "grave mistakes," and needs "more democracy to solve the problem." 3 October: Turkey begins EU accession talks. 15 October: Permanent Iraqi constitution approved with federalism and Article 140 on Kirkuk referendum for the Kurds. November: Democratic Society Party (DTP) established in Turkey. 15 December: First Iraqi national election under the new permanent constitution. Kurdistani List (KDP/PUK) wins 53 of 275 seats, second to the United Iraqi Alliance of Shiites. 17 March: Riot in Halabja protesting KRG corruption. 22 April: Jalal Talabani chosen permanent president and Barham Salih deputy prime minister of Iraq. 7 May: Two separate KRG administrations unified except for four ministries. Nechirvan Idris Barzani chosen prime minister of unified KRG. 20 May: Nouri al-Maliki chosen first permanent prime minister of post-Saddam Hussein Iraq with Kurdish support. 6 December: Nawshirwan Mustafa resigns from the PUK and eventually heads new Change (Gorran) List. Baker-Hamilton (Iraq Study Group) Report calls for Iraqi Kurdish concessions, but they are not implemented. 22 July: DTP enters Turkish parliament as first pro-Kurdish party since DEP expelled in March 1994. AK Party slightly outpolls DTP in southeast Turkey. December: Turkey bombs PKK positions in northern Iraq. February: Turkish military incursion into northern Iraq against the PKK. August: Peshmerga almost comes to blows with Iraqi military over Khanaqin. 1 January: Turkish TRT-6 begins broadcasting 24/7 in Kurdish. 31 January: Provincial elections throughout Iraq except in KRG and Kirkuk. Nouri al-Maliki's party wins major victories and gains support for strong central Iraqi government, while Abdul al-Hakim's SIIC falters. 29 March: DTP wins numerous provincial elections in Turkey, thus fighting off AK Party challenge. Osman Baydemir reelected mayor of Diyarbakir. April: UN report recommends Article 140 not be implemented and Kirkuk not become part of KRG. May: Turkish president Abdullah Gul declares Kurdish issue is his state's "most pressing" problem and Turkey now has a "historic opportunity" to solve it. June: KRG parliament approves constitution for KRG, but popular ratification vote later called off. 25 July: KRG elections. Massoud Barzani reelected president with almost 70 percent of the popular vote. Kurdistani List of KDP/PUK wins 57 percent, but PUK falters as new Change (Gorran) List of Nawshirwan Mustafa garners 24 percent. August: Kurdish Opening (Democratic Initiative) broached by Turkey's ruling AK Party. Barham Salih tapped to be new KRG prime minister. 11 December: Turkish Constitutional Court bans the DTP. Riots occur in Turkey as Kurdish Opening falters. 2010 4 March: Belgian police raid ROJ-TV offices and arrest several workers; further raids occur in France and Italy against suspected PKK supporters, but all are soon released. 7 March: Iraqi national parliamentary elections held. Kurdistani List of KDP/PUK splits the vote evenly with an Arab-Turkoman alliance in Kirkuk province. Introduction Straddling the mountainous borders where Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria converge in the Middle East, the 25 to 30 million Kurds constitute the largest nation in the world without its own independent state. Although they constitute a large majority within this geographical area often called Kurdistan, the Kurds have been gerrymandered into being mere minorities within the existing states in which they live. The desire of many Kurds for statehood, or at least cultural autonomy, has led to an almost continuous series of Kurdish revolts since the creation of the modern Middle East state system following World War I and constitutes the Kurdish problem, or question. In recent years the Kurdish problem has become increasingly important in Middle Eastern and even international politics for two fundamental reasons. First, the wars against Saddam Hussein in 1991 and 2003 resulted in the creation of a virtually independent Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in a federal Iraq. This KRG has inspired the Kurds elsewhere to seek cultural, social, and even political autonomy, if not independence. Second, Turkey's application for admission into the European Union (EU) also has brought the Kurdish issue to the attention of Europe. As a prerequisite for EU accession, Turkey must implement democratic reforms that may help solve the Kurdish problem in that country. On the other hand, the states in which the Kurds live still greatly fear Kurdish autonomy as a threat to their territorial integrity. If the Arab-Israeli dispute slowly winds down, the Kurdish issue will bid to replace it as the leading factor of instability in the geostrategi-cally important Middle East. Furthermore, since the Kurds sit on a great deal of the Middle East's oil and possibly even more important water resources, the Kurdish issue probably will become increasingly more salient in the coming years. LAND AND PEOPLE Geography Given various political, economic, and social vicissitudes, the geographic extent of Kurdistan has varied considerably over the centuries. Although semi-independent Kurdish emirates such as Ardalan existed into the middle of the 19th century, there has never been an independent Kurdistan in the modern sense of an independent state. Before World War I, Kurdistan was divided between the Ottoman (mostly) and Persian empires. Following World War I, Kurdistan was divided among five different states. Although only approximations can be cited, Turkey has the largest portion of Kurdistan (43 percent), followed by Iran (31 percent), Iraq (18 percent), Syria (6 percent), and the former Soviet Union (now mainly Armenia and Azerbaijan—2 percent). Mountains are the most prominent geographic characteristic of landlocked Kurdistan. Indeed, a famous Kurdish proverb explains that "the Kurds have no friends but the mountains." This means that, although their rugged mountainous terrain contributes heavily to the lack of Kurdish unity, these mountains also have defined Kurdish history and culture while protecting the Kurds from being fully conquered or assimilated by the Turks to the north, Iranians to the east, and Arabs to the south and west. The Zagros range constitutes the most important portion of these mountains, running northwest to southeast like a spinal column through much of the land. Portions of the Taurus, Pontus, and Amanus mountains also rise within Kurdistan. On the other hand, significant flat farming areas also exist within Kurdistan. In addition and most important, the Tigris and Euphrates rivers originate in Kurdistan before eventually flowing to the south. The Greater and Lesser Zab rivers also flow through much of Iraqi Kurdistan. Climate The climate of Kurdistan's mountains has been described as bracing, particularly during the winter months. During the summer, however, these areas offer a hospitable retreat from the heat to the immediate south. While northern Kurdistan has the highest average elevation, central Kurdistan enjoys a lower elevation, and a warmer, even relatively balmy, climate can thus prevail during the summer. The mean annual temperatures in Kurdistan exhibit great variations according to the elevation. Although summers remain pleasantly cool in the mountains, in the lower elevations they can be oppressively hot and humid. Winters in most areas are bitterly cold and snowy. These climatic contrasts have been sharpened by the loss of the forests that once covered the land but have succumbed to overgrazing, logging for fuel and construction, and the effects of war. In strong contrast to most other parts of the Middle East, much of Kurdistan enjoys adequate and regular rainfall. Population As already noted, Kurdistan, or the land of the Kurds, constitutes the geographical area in the Middle East where the states of Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria converge and in which the vast majority of the people are ethnic Kurds. There are also significant enclaves of Kurds living in the Iranian province of Khurasan, east of the Caspian Sea and in central Anatolia. Large numbers of Kurds also live in Turkey's three biggest cities—Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir—as well as in Iran's capital, Tehran. In addition, Kurds live in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan, across the border from the Iranian province of Khurasan. The Kurds are a largely Sunni Muslim, Indo-European-speaking people. Thus, they are quite distinct ethnically from the Turks and Arabs but are related to the Iranians, with whom they share the Newroz (New Year) holiday at the beginning of spring. No precise figures for the Kurdish population exist because most Kurds tend to exaggerate their numbers, while the states in which they live undercount them for political reasons. In addition, a significant number of Kurds have partially or fully assimilated into the larger Arab, Turkish, or Iranian populations surrounding them. Furthermore, debate continues over whether such groups as the Lurs, Bakhtiyaris, and others are Kurds or not. Thus, there is not even complete agreement on who is a Kurd. Nevertheless, a reasonable estimate is that there may be as many as 12 to 15 million Kurds in Turkey (18 to 23 percent of the population), 6.5 million in Iran (11 percent), 4 to 4.5 million in Iraq (17 to 20 percent), and 1 million in Syria (9 percent). At least 200,000 Kurds also live in parts of the former Soviet Union (some claim as many as 1 million largely assimilated Kurds live there), and recently a Kurdish diaspora of more than 1 million has risen in western Europe. More than half of this diaspora is concentrated in Germany. Some 25,000 Kurds live in the United States. (Again, it must be noted, however, that these figures are simply estimates, given the lack of accurate demographic statistics.) Finally, it should be noted that numerous minorities also live in Kurdistan. These minorities include Christian groups such as the Assyrians and Armenians, Turkomans and Turks, Arabs, and Iranians, among others. The Kurds themselves are notoriously divided geographically, politically, linguistically, and tribally. In all of the Kurdish revolts of the 20th century, for example, significant numbers of Kurds have supported the government because of their tribal antipathies for those rebelling. In Iraq, these pro-government Kurds have been derisively referred to as josh ("little donkeys"), while in recent years the Turkish government created a pro-government militia of Kurds called village guards. Thus, their mountains and valleys have divided the Kurds as much as they have ethnically stamped them. Economy Although many Kurds were historically nomadic, very few continue to practice such a lifestyle today. Many Kurds now farm and raise livestock. Corn, barley, rice, cotton, and sugar beets are valuable crops. In addition, the best tobacco in Turkey and Iraq is grown in Kurdistan. Animal husbandry (goats, sheep, cows, and buffalo) has been and still is a mainstay. Because of the recent wars, however, most Kurds now live in urban areas. In the southeast of Turkey particularly, this has led to economic squalor. Diyarbakir, long considered the unofficial capital of the Kurdish areas in Turkey, presently contains well over a million people. Despite repeated proposals of government development aid, the economy of southeastern Turkey remains problematic. On the other hand, the economy in Iraqi Kurdistan (KRG) has developed dramatically since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime. Many foreign investors—particularly Turkish—have been attracted to the region, and construction has been booming. Modern stores, homes, and automobiles have proliferated. Two international airports have been constructed and are handling more than 70 flights a week in Irbil and Sulaymaniya. Seven universities are also operating. However, huge discrepancies in wealth have developed, as well as corruption and nepotism. Problems between the KRG and central government in Baghdad continue regarding access to the rich oil resources. The ultimate political and resulting security situation also remains a long-term challenge. Blessed with large reserves of water (in the Turkish and Iraqi parts) and oil (in the Iraqi section), Kurdistan has great economic importance and potential. Despite being economically underdeveloped historically, Kurdistan has witnessed a tremendous amount of economic, political, and social modernization. Indeed, the economy of the KRG economically surpassed that of the rest of Iraq in the late 1990s due to the oil-for-food program funds it received from the sale of Iraqi oil through the United Nations. Even more, given the security problems to the south, many foreign investors were attracted to the KRG region after 2003. Similar hopes have yet to materialize for the Kurdish areas in Turkey, however, despite the Guneydogu Anadolu Projesi (GAP), or Southeast Anatolia Project, for harnessing the Euphrates and Tigris rivers through the construction of gigantic dams. Finally, the Iranian and Syrian portions of Kurdistan still lag greatly behind economically.

Historical Dictionary of the Kurds. .

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