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Kurds

Topics Covered:

  1. Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

 

Kurds

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Who are Kurds and Where is Kurdistan?

For Mains: Why are they under attack and what led to these attacks, what is the way out?

 

Who are Kurds?

At an estimated 25 million to 35 million population, they are the world’s largest stateless ethnic group.

The majority among the Kurdish people today are Sunni Muslim, but there are adherents of other faiths too, including Sufism and other mystical practices.

  • They live in the highlands of southern and eastern Turkey, northern Iraq, the northeastern Syria, northwestern Iran, and parts of south Armenia, and are a minority in each of these countries. Small communities live in Georgia, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, and eastern Iran as well.
  • Kurds have long had a reputation for being fearless fighters, and they have served as mercenaries in many armies over the centuries.
  • The mediaeval warrior Saladin, founder of the Ayyubid dynasty that replaced the Fatimids in Egypt and ruled over large parts of the Middle East in the 12th and 13th centuries, was of Kurdish ethnicity.

 

What’s happening now?

Recently, the Trump administration ordered US troops to step aside from the border in northern Syria, effectively paving the way for Turkey to launch an offensive against US-backed Kurdish forces who they regard as enemies.

 

What are their demands?

The Kurds have never achieved nation-state status, except in Iraq, where they have a regional government called Iraqi Kurdistan.

Kurdistan is made up of five different regions: southeastern Turkey, northeastern Syria, northern Iraq, northwestern Iran and southwestern Armenia.

In the early 20th century, the Kurds began working toward the creation of homeland known as Kurdistan. In 1920, the Treaty of Sèvres — one of a series of treaties that the Central Powers signed after their defeat in World War I — outlined the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire and called for an autonomous Kurdistan.

Three years later, after the end of the war, Western allies dropped demands for an independent Kurdish state and the Kurdish region was divided among several countries.

Why is Turkey attacking them?

Turkey has two main goals in northeast Syria: to drive the Kurdish YPG militia which it deems a security threat away from its border, and to create a space inside Syria where 2 million Syrian refugees currently hosted in Turkey can be settled.

 

Latest developments:

  1. Kurdish forces who had until recently been America’s allies against both the Islamic State and President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, announced an agreement with the Damascus regime, which is backed by Moscow and Tehran, the United States’ two great rivals in the region.
  2. Turkey has also launched a military operation against Kurdish fighters in northeast Syria.

 

What could this mean for Islamic state?

Chaos could present Islamic State with an opportunity to stage a revival and the SDF has been conducting operations against IS sleeper cells since capturing its final territorial foothold earlier this year.

 

Way ahead:

The operation could reshape the map of the Syrian conflict once again, dealing a blow to Kurdish-led forces that have battled Islamic State while widening Turkey’s territorial control at the border.

 

Sources: Indian Express.