Is Kurdistan a Country?

Erbil, Kurdistan.
Erbil, Kurdistan.

Kurdistan is not a country but a region that spans across several countries in the Middle East. These regions are connected by the Kurdish people who are found spread out in these nations. A rough estimate places the Kurdistan region to be between north-western Zagros and eastern Taurus mountain ranges.

There are four significant areas of Kurdistan:

  • Northern Kurdistan which is in south-eastern Turkey.
  • Southern Kurdistan which is in northern Iraq.
  • Eastern Kurdistan which covers north-western Iran.
  • Western Kurdistan which is in the north of Syria.

Throughout recent history, there has been a push for an independent nation-state for Kurdistan. The first-ever agreement between the existing governments and the Kurdish people took place in 1970 when the Iraqi Kurdistan gained an autonomous status

Reasons For Wanting An Independent Kurdish State

There are about 35 million Kurds living in the regions that spread over the borders of Armenia, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey, and this makes them the 4th, largest ethnic community in the whole of Middle East region. Despite the vast numbers they have never had their own state - instead they are governed by the respective governments that have mandate over the land that they live in. Despite strong opposition from all those nations surrounding them, there has been a movement demanding that Kurdistan gain their own autonomous state. This has been met with force at times such as in 1988 when the Iraqi government massacred 3,200 people using gas attack.

Challenges Facing Kurds

Throughout history, Kurds have been treated harshly in their respective nations. Syrian Kurds, who make up 10% of the country's total population, have been denied fundamental rights like citizenship, having their land confiscated and scores murdered or jailed if they attempt to fight back. Turkish Kurds have also been isolated for decades by the government and any attempt in joining other Kurds across the border in fighting for their rights has been met with force.

The Future Of Kurdistan

In September 2017, Iraqi Kurdistan held a referendum on independence. The poll was voted for and supported by all the Kurdish people in Iraq despite the government terming it as illegal. However, establishing an independent state of Kurdistan is still far from reality. The governments of Iraq, Iran, and Turkey continue to oppose the idea by using all the resources at their disposal to ensure it never gains traction in the region. Another big blow to the Kurdish people is the lack of support and recognition from the International Community which has led to the resignation of significant leaders of the Kurdish movement. Constant disagreements and political interests among the Kurds have also undermined all efforts of establishing a united front that could accelerate the process of creating Kurdistan nation.


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