– By Anas Siddique, Akshay Koshy, and Luke Alexander
Who are the Kurds? Though the Kurds have existed as a people for hundreds of years, it was only after World War One and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire that the Kurds sought a nation to call their own. They never ended up getting it, and what may have been a nation called Kurdistan ended up being carved up by Iraq, Syria, and Turkey.
The Turkish Kurds have been actively fighting Turkey for the right to self-rule since the 1970s, when the PKK, the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, was formed. During the 1980s and 1990s, open war existed between the PKK and Turkey.
During the war, the PKK found safe harbour in Syria. However this changed in 1998 when Turkey threatened to go to war with Syria due to the PKK operating from Syria. The result was the expulsion of the PKK from Syria.
In 2003, Syrian Kurds formed the Democratic Union Party, known as the PYD. Though the PYD said it had nothing to do with PKK, not everybody was convinced. The PYD was brutally repressed by the Syrian government regime for years. All of that changed when the Syrian Civil War broke out in 2011.
The government forces, battling rebel forces across Syria, pulled out from Kurdish regions in the north of the country after heavy protests. The result was the PYD becoming the major governing body in the area. The fighting arm of the PYD is called the YPG. They’ve captured territory from the Syrian regime, as well as the Islamic State.
In Iraqi Kurdistan, the Kurdistan Regional Government is the governing body. It’s had the right to self-rule since the 90s, though much of its early years were spent fighting internally. Now it’s a unified government. It’s military arm is called the Peshmerga, and they have been fighting the advance of ISIS. Most countries fighting ISIS as part of the US-led coalition support the peshmerga.
The region remains mired in conflict, with various groups vying for control.
Anas Siddique is a student of Journalism at Humber College. His interests include science and technology, Canadian and International politics, human rights and social issues, food, and travel. He holds a keen interest in the human condition and what it means to be a true citizen of Earth.