پێنج شه‌ممه‌ , نیسان 18 2024
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Who are the Kurds

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Between 25 and 35 million Kurds inhabit a mountainous region straddling the borders of Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran and Armenia. They make up the fourth-largest ethnic group in the Middle East, but they have never obtained a permanent nation state.

Where do they come from?

The Kurds are one of the indigenous peoples of the Mesopotamian plains and the highlands in what are now south-eastern Turkey, north-eastern Syria, northern Iraq, north-western Iran and south-western Armenia.

Middle East map showing Kurdish areas

Today, they form a distinctive community, united through race, culture and language, even though they have no standard dialect. They also adhere to a number of different religions and creeds, although the majority are Sunni Muslims.

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5927124 ‘Kurds who fought on the side of the Assyrians at Urumia’, 1918 (b/w photo) by Unknown photographer (20th century); National Army Museum, London; (add.info.: ‘Kurds who fought on the side of the Assyrians at Urumia’, 1918.

Photograph, World War One, Caucasus, (1914-1918).

The Baku oil installations were deemed vital to the Allied war effort so after the Russian armies in the Caucasus collapsed following the October Revolution (1917), the British attempted to bolster the Allied position there by despatching a military mission called Dunsterforce.

Dunsterforce officers trained local levies in order to oppose the Ottoman army and various Turkish backed-tribesmen. The British found it difficult to work out who among the myriad tribes and faiths in the region were allies or enemies. Leith-Ross noted that the Kurdish group shown here, called the ‘Shekoik… fought with the Christians against the Shiah Moslems, but later they proved traitors and were shot. They look like the treacherous people they actually were’.

From an album of 334 photographs compiled by Major W Leith-Ross, Army Staff and 13th Frontier Force Rifles, 1918-1920);  out of copyright.

Modern history of Kurdistan

1918: Sheikh Mahmoud Barzinji becomes governor of Suleimaniah under British rule. He and other Kurdish …

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