- Over the years France has been maybe more important in its influence upon the Kurds than any other European power besides Great Britain and Russia. Under the provisions of the Sykes-Picot Agreement, France took over Syria following World War I and thus influenced the Kurdish situation in that state. Before the Gulf War in 1991, France gained a reputation as possibly Iraq's most important Western supplier of arms. On the other hand, Danielle Mitterrand, the wife of French president Francois Mitterrand, has been a longtime and ardent defender of the Kurdish cause. She also helped established the influential Institut Kurde de Paris in 1982. After the Gulf Warin 1991, France was a leading supporter of Operation Provide Comfort, which maintained the no-fly zone over northern Iraq. In 1997, however, France pulled out of this operation and increasingly supported the removal of the sanctions against Iraq.Although France banned the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in 1993, it continued to operate there through various front organizations. More than 60,000 Kurds currently live in France. France was a strident critic of the U.S. war that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003. However, in June 2008, France opened a consular office in Irbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
Historical Dictionary of the Kurds. Michael M. Gunter.
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