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Iraqi Kurdistan

Iraqi Kurdistan

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Iraqi Kurdistan or Kurdistan Region is an autonomous region of Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

. It borders Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 to the east, Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 to the north, Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 to the west and the rest of Iraq to the south. The regional capital is Arbil
Arbil
Arbil / Hewlêr is the fourth largest city in Iraq after Baghdad, Basra and Mosul...

, known in Kurdish as Hewlêr. The region is officially governed by the Kurdistan Regional Government
Kurdistan Regional Government
The Kurdistan Regional Government , , is the official ruling body of the predominantly Kurds-populated Kurdistan Region in Northern Iraq...

.

The establishment of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq dates back to the March 1970 autonomy agreement between the Kurdish opposition and the Iraqi government after years of heavy fighting. The Iran-Iraq war
Iran-Iraq War
The Iran–Iraq War was an armed conflict between the armed forces of Iraq and Iran, lasting from September 1980 to August 1988, making it the longest conventional war of the twentieth century...

 during the 1980s and the Anfal
Al-Anfal Campaign
The al-Anfal Campaign , also known as Operation Anfal or simply Anfal, was a genocidal campaign against the Kurdish people in Northern Iraq, led by the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein and headed by Ali Hassan al-Majid in the final stages of Iran-Iraq War...

 genocide campaign of the Iraqi army devastated the population and nature of Iraqi Kurdistan. Following the 1991 uprising
1991 uprisings in Iraq
The 1991 uprisings in Iraq were a series of anti-governmental rebellions in southern and northern Iraq during the aftermath of the Gulf War. The revolt was fueled by the perception that the power of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was vulnerable at the time; as well as by heavily fueled anger at...

 of the Iraqi people
Iraqi people
The Iraqi people or Mesopotamian people are natives or inhabitants of the country of Iraq, known since antiquity as Mesopotamia , with a large diaspora throughout the Arab World, Europe, the Americas, and...

 against Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was the fifth President of Iraq, serving in this capacity from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003...

, many Kurds were forced to flee the country to become refugees in bordering regions of Iran and Turkey. A northern no-fly zone
Iraqi no-fly zones
The Iraqi no-fly zones were a set of two separate no-fly zones , and were proclaimed by the United States, United Kingdom and France after the Gulf War of 1991 to protect the Kurdish people in northern Iraq and Shiite Muslims in the south. Iraqi aircraft were forbidden from flying inside the zones...

 was established following the First Gulf War in 1991 to facilitate the return of Kurdish refugees. As Kurds continued to fight government troops, Iraqi forces finally left Kurdistan in October 1991, leaving the region to function de facto independently; however, neither of the two major Kurdish parties had at any time declared independence and Iraqi Kurdistan continues to view itself as an integral part of a united Iraq but one in which it administers its own affairs. The 2003 invasion of Iraq
2003 invasion of Iraq
The 2003 invasion of Iraq , was the start of the conflict known as the Iraq War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 21 days of major combat operations...

 and the subsequent political changes led to the ratification of a new Constitution of Iraq
Constitution of Iraq
The Constitution of Iraq is Iraq's fundamental law.-History:Iraq's first constitution, which established a constitutional monarchy, entered into force under the auspices of a British military occupation in 1925 and remained in effect until the 1958 revolution established a republic...

 in 2005. The new Iraqi constitution defines Iraqi Kurdistan as a federal entity of Iraq, and establishes Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 and Kurdish
Kurdish language
Kurdish is a dialect continuum spoken by the Kurds in western Asia. It is part of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian group of Indo-European languages....

 as Iraq's joint official language
Official language
An official language is a language that is given a special legal status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically a nation's official language will be the one used in that nation's courts, parliament and administration. However, official status can also be used to give a...

s.

Iraqi Kurdistan is a parliamentary democracy with a regional assembly that consists of 111 seats. The current president is Masoud Barzani, who was initially elected
Iraqi Kurdistan legislative election, 2005
The Iraqi Kurdistan legislative elections of 2005 for the parliament of the Kurdistan Region, were held on 30 January 2005, to coincide with the Iraqi parliamentary election, January 2005 and elections to the provincial councils...

 in 2005 and re-elected in 2009. The three governorates of Duhok, Erbil and Sulaymaniyah comprise around 40000 square kilometres (15,444.1 sq mi) and have a population of around 4 million.

Etymology


The name Kurdistan literally means Land
-stan
The suffix -stan is Persian for "place of", a cognate to Pashto -tun and to Indo-Aryan -sthāna , a Sanskrit suffix with a similar meaning...

 of the Kurd
Kürd
Kürd or Kyurd or Kyurt may refer to:*Kürd Eldarbəyli, Azerbaijan*Kürd Mahrızlı, Azerbaijan*Kürd, Goychay, Azerbaijan*Kürd, Jalilabad, Azerbaijan*Kürd, Qabala, Azerbaijan*Qurdbayram, Azerbaijan...

s
.In the Iraqi Constitution, it is referred to as Kurdistan Region. The full name of the government is "Kurdistan Regional Government
Kurdistan Regional Government
The Kurdistan Regional Government , , is the official ruling body of the predominantly Kurds-populated Kurdistan Region in Northern Iraq...

" (abbrev: KRG). Kurds also refer to the region as Kurdistana Başûr (South Kurdistan) or Başûrî Kurdistan (Southern Kurdistan or South of Kurdistan) referring to its geographical location within the whole of the greater Kurdistan region. During the Baath Party
Baath Party
The Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party was a political party mixing Arab nationalist and Arab socialist interests, opposed to Western imperialism, and calling for the renaissance or resurrection and unification of the Arab world into a single state. Ba'ath is also spelled Ba'th or Baath and means...

 administration in the 1970s and 1980s, the region was called the "Kurdish Autonomous Region".

Pre-Islamic Period


In prehistoric times the region was home to a Neanderthal
Neanderthal
The Neanderthal is an extinct member of the Homo genus known from Pleistocene specimens found in Europe and parts of western and central Asia...

 culture such as has been found at the Shanidar Cave. The region was host to the Jarmo
Jarmo
Jarmo is an archeological site located in northern Iraq on the foothills of Zagros Mountains east of Kirkuk city. It is known as the oldest agricultural community in the world, dating back to 7000 BCE. Jarmo is broadly contemporary with such other important Neolithic sites such as Jericho in the...

 culture circa 7000 BC. The earliest neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 site in Assyria is at Tell Hassuna
Hassuna
Hassuna or Tell Hassuna is an ancient Mesopotamian site situated in the Ninawa Governorate of Iraq west of the Tigris river, south of Mosul and about 35 km southwest of Nineveh.-History:...

, the centre of the Hassuna culture, circa 6000 BC. The region was inhabited by the northern branch of the Akkadians, later known as Assyrians, and also to some degree by Hurrians
Hurrians
The Hurrians were a people of the Ancient Near East who lived in Northern Mesopotamia and adjacent regions during the Bronze Age.The largest and most influential Hurrian nation was the kingdom of Mitanni. The population of the Hittite Empire in Anatolia to a large part consisted of Hurrians, and...

. It was ruled by the Akkadian Empire from 2334 BC until 2154 BC. Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

n kings are attested from the 23rd century BC according to the Assyrian King List, and Assyrian city-states such as Ashur
Ashur
Ashur |Shin]]) in the Masoretic text, which doubles the 'ש'), was the second son of Shem, the son of Noah. Ashur's brothers were Elam, Arphaxad, Lud, and Aram....

 and Ekallatum
Ekallatum
Ekallatum was an ancient Assyrian city of upper Mesopotamia. The exact location of it has not yet been identified, but it was located somewhere along the left bank of the Tigris, south of Assur....

 started appearing in the region from the mid 21st century BC.
Prior to the rule of king Ushpia
Ushpia
Ushpia was an early Assyrian king who ruled circa 2030 BC. According to the Assyrian King List he is alleged to have founded the temple of Ashur at the city of Assur. He was succeeded by Apiashal....

 circa 2030 BC, the city of Ashur appears to have been a regional administrative center of the Akkadian Empire, implicated by Nuzi tablets, subject to their fellow Akkadian Sargon and his successors. Large cities were built by the Assyrians, including Ashur
Ashur
Ashur |Shin]]) in the Masoretic text, which doubles the 'ש'), was the second son of Shem, the son of Noah. Ashur's brothers were Elam, Arphaxad, Lud, and Aram....

, Nineveh
Nineveh
Nineveh was an ancient Assyrian city on the eastern bank of the Tigris River, and capital of the Neo Assyrian Empire. Its ruins are across the river from the modern-day major city of Mosul, in the Ninawa Governorate of Iraq....

, Guzana, Arrapkha, Imgur-Enlil (Balawat
Balawat
Balawat is a historical location in Ninawa Governorate, Iraq, southeast from the city of Mosul and to the south of the modern Assyrian town of Bakhdida. It was the site of the ancient Neo-Assyrian city of Imgur-Enlil...

), Shubat-Enlil and Kalhu (Calah/Nimrud
Nimrud
Nimrud is an ancient Assyrian city located south of Nineveh on the river Tigris in modern Ninawa Governorate Iraq. In ancient times the city was called Kalḫu. The Arabs called the city Nimrud after the Biblical Nimrod, a legendary hunting hero .The city covered an area of around . Ruins of the city...

). One of the major Assyrian cities in the area, Arbil
Arbil
Arbil / Hewlêr is the fourth largest city in Iraq after Baghdad, Basra and Mosul...

 (Arba-Ilu), was noted for its distinctive cult of Ishtar
Ishtar
Ishtar is the Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility, love, war, and sex. She is the counterpart to the Sumerian Inanna and to the cognate north-west Semitic goddess Astarte.-Characteristics:...

, and the city was called "the Lady of Ishtar" by its Assyrian inhabitants. The Assyrians ruled the region from the 21st century BC. The region was known as Assyria, and was the center of various Assyrian empires (particularly during the periods 1813-1754 BC, 1385-1076 BC and the Neo Assyrian Empire of 911-608 BC. Between 612 and 605 BC the Assyrian empire fell, and it passed to the neo-Babylonians
Neo-Babylonian Empire
The Neo-Babylonian Empire or Second Babylonian Empire was a period of Mesopotamian history which began in 626 BC and ended in 539 BC. During the preceding three centuries, Babylonia had been ruled by their fellow Akkadian speakers and northern neighbours, Assyria. Throughout that time Babylonia...

 and later became part of the Athura Satrap
Achaemenid Assyria
Athura was a geographical area within the Persian Achaemenid Empire during the period of 539 BC to 330 BC. Although sometimes regarded as a satrapy, Achaemenid royal inscriptions list it as a dahyu, a concept generally interpreted as meaning either a group of people or both a country and its...

 within the Achaemenian Empire from 539 to 332 BC, where it was known as Athura, the Achaemenid name for Assyria. The region fell to Alexander The Great in 332 BC, and was thereafter ruled by the Greek Seleucid Empire until the mid 2nd century BC (and was renamed Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, a Greek corruption of Assyria), when it fell to Mithridates I
Mithridates I of Parthia
Mithridates or Mithradates I was the "Great King" of Parthia from ca. 171 BC - 138 BC, succeeding his brother Phraates I. His father was King Phriapatius of Parthia, who died ca. 176 BC). Mithridates I made Parthia into a major political power by expanding the empire to the east, south, and west...

 of Parthia
Parthia
Parthia is a region of north-eastern Iran, best known for having been the political and cultural base of the Arsacid dynasty, rulers of the Parthian Empire....

. The Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

n semi-independent kingdom of Adiabene
Adiabene
Adiabene was an ancient Assyrian independent kingdom in Mesopotamia, with its capital at Arbela...

 was centred in Arbil in the first Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 centuries. Later, the region was incorporated by the Romans
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 as the Roman Assyria province but shortly retaken by the Sassanids who established the Satrap
Satrap
Satrap was the name given to the governors of the provinces of the ancient Median and Achaemenid Empires and in several of their successors, such as the Sassanid Empire and the Hellenistic empires....

 of Assuristan (Sassanid Assyria) in it until the Arab Islamic conquest. The region became a center of the Assyrian Church of the East
Assyrian Church of the East
The Assyrian Church of the East, officially the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East ʻIttā Qaddishtā w-Shlikhāitā Qattoliqi d-Madnĕkhā d-Āturāyē), is a Syriac Church historically centered in Mesopotamia. It is one of the churches that claim continuity with the historical...

 and a flourishing Syriac literary tradition during Sassanid rule.

Islamic Period



The region was conquered by Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 Muslims in the mid 7th century AD, Assyria was dissolved as a geo-political entity (although Assyrians remain in the area to this day), and the area made part of the Muslim Arab Rashiduns
Rashidun Caliphate
The Rashidun Caliphate , comprising the first four caliphs in Islam's history, was founded after Muhammad's death in 632, Year 10 A.H.. At its height, the Caliphate extended from the Arabian Peninsula, to the Levant, Caucasus and North Africa in the west, to the Iranian highlands and Central Asia...

, Umayyads, and later the Abbasid Caliphates, before bcoming part of various Turkic
Turkic peoples
The Turkic peoples are peoples residing in northern, central and western Asia, southern Siberia and northwestern China and parts of eastern Europe. They speak languages belonging to the Turkic language family. They share, to varying degrees, certain cultural traits and historical backgrounds...

, and Mongol emirate
Emirate
An emirate is a political territory that is ruled by a dynastic Muslim monarch styled emir.-Etymology:Etymologically emirate or amirate is the quality, dignity, office or territorial competence of any emir ....

s. And after the Ottomans gained power in the region starting from the sixteenth century, the area today known as Iraqi Kurdistan became formerly ruled by three principalities of Baban
Baban
Baban were a Kurdish principality and ruling family originating from Darishmana in the region of Pijder. The founder of the dynasty and its first ruler was Fakih Ahmed a descendent of the ancient house of Soran. He also had a brother named Khidder Ahmed who lived with him...

, Badinan
Badinan Emirate
Bahdinan or Badinan was one of the more powerful and enduring Kurdish principalities. It was founded by Baha-al-Din originally from Şemzînan area in Hakkari in sometime between 13th or 14th century CE. The capital of this emirate was Amadiya for a long time.It was centered in the town of Amadiya...

 and Soran
Soran Emirate
Soran was a Kurdish emirate that was established in 1816. It ruled over the northeastern part of Kurdistan until it was removed by Ottoman troops in 1835. Its capital for most of that time was the city of Rawanduz....

. In 1831, direct Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 rule was imposed, which lasted until World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 when the Ottomans were defeated by the British
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

; afterwards the influence increased in the region after the First World War.

Kurdish revolts under British control


During World War I the British and French divided Western Asia in the Sykes-Picot Agreement
Sykes-Picot Agreement
The Sykes–Picot Agreement of 1916 was a secret agreement between the governments of the United Kingdom and France, with the assent of Imperial Russia, defining their respective spheres of influence and control in Western Asia after the expected downfall of the Ottoman Empire during World War I...

. The Treaty of Sèvres
Treaty of Sèvres
The Treaty of Sèvres was the peace treaty between the Ottoman Empire and Allies at the end of World War I. The Treaty of Versailles was signed with Germany before this treaty to annul the German concessions including the economic rights and enterprises. Also, France, Great Britain and Italy...

, which was ratified in the Treaty of Lausanne
Treaty of Lausanne
The Treaty of Lausanne was a peace treaty signed in Lausanne, Switzerland on 24 July 1923, that settled the Anatolian and East Thracian parts of the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire. The treaty of Lausanne was ratified by the Greek government on 11 February 1924, by the Turkish government on 31...

, led to the advent of modern Western Asia and the modern Republic of Turkey. The League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

 granted France mandates over Syria
French Mandate of Syria
Officially the French Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon was a League of Nations mandate founded after the First World War and the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire...

 and Lebanon
French Mandate of Lebanon
The state of Greater Lebanon, the predecessor of modern Lebanon, was created in 1920 as part of the French scheme of dividing the French Mandate of Syria into six states....

 and granted the United Kingdom mandates over Palestine (which then consisted of two autonomous regions: Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

 and Transjordan
Transjordan
The Emirate of Transjordan was a former Ottoman territory in the Southern Levant that was part of the British Mandate of Palestine...

) and what was to become Iraq. Parts of the Ottoman Empire on the Arabian Peninsula
Arabian Peninsula
The Arabian Peninsula is a land mass situated north-east of Africa. Also known as Arabia or the Arabian subcontinent, it is the world's largest peninsula and covers 3,237,500 km2...

 became parts of what are today Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

 and Yemen
Yemen
The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....

.

On December 1, 1918, during a meeting in Sulaymaniyah
Sulaymaniyah
Sulaymaniyah is a city in Iraqi Kurdistan, Iraq. It is the capital of Sulaymaniyah Governorate. Sulaymaniyah is surrounded by the Azmar Range, Goizja Range and the Qaiwan Range in the north east, Baranan Mountain in the south and the Tasluje Hills in the west. The city has a semi-arid climate with...

 with Colonel Arnold Wilson
Arnold Wilson
Sir Arnold Talbot Wilson KCIE CSI CMG DSO was the British civil commissioner in Baghdad in 1918-1920. Wilson became publicly known for his role as the colonial administrator of Mesopotamia during and after the First World War. His high-handedness arguably led to an Iraqi revolt in 1920. He was...

, the Acting Civil Commissioner for Mesopotamia, Kurdish leaders called for British support for a united and independent Kurdistan under British protection. Between 1919 and 1922, Shaikh Mahmud Barzanji
Mahmud Barzanji
Sheikh Mahmud Barzanji or Mahmud Berzenji was the leader of several Kurdish uprisings against the British Mandate of Iraq. He was sheikh of a Qadiriyah Sufi family from the city of Sulaymaniyah, which is now in Iraqi Kurdistan...

, an influential Kurdish leader based in Sulaymaniyah, formed a Kurdish government and led two revolts against the British rule. It took the British authorities two years to put down his uprisings. The first revolt began on May 22, 1919 with the arrest of British officials in Sulaymaniyah and it quickly spread to Mosul
Mosul
Mosul , is a city in northern Iraq and the capital of the Ninawa Governorate, some northwest of Baghdad. The original city stands on the west bank of the Tigris River, opposite the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh on the east bank, but the metropolitan area has now grown to encompass substantial...

 and Arbil. The British employed aerial bombardments, artillery, ground attacks by Anglo-Indian
Anglo-Indian
Anglo-Indians are people who have mixed Indian and British ancestry, or people of British descent born or living in India, now mainly historical in the latter sense. British residents in India used the term "Eurasians" for people of mixed European and Indian descent...

 troops and Assyrian Levies
Assyrian Levies
The Iraq Levies was the first Iraqi military forces established by the British in British controlled Iraq. The Iraq Levies were a most noteworthy feature of the Kingdom of Iraq, and especially of northern Iraq during the years of the mandate, and no account of the Assyrians or indeed of Iraq itself...

, and on one occasion, chemical gas, in an attempt to quell the uprising. Then the British exiled Mahmoud to India. In July 1920, 62 tribal leaders of the region called for the independence of Kurdistan under a British mandate. The objection of the British to Kurdish self-rule sprang from the fear that success of an independent Kurdish area would tempt the two Arab areas of Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

 and Basra
Basra
Basra is the capital of Basra Governorate, in southern Iraq near Kuwait and Iran. It had an estimated population of two million as of 2009...

 to follow suit, hence endangering the direct British control over all Mesopotamia. In 1922, Britain restored Shaikh Mahmoud to power, hoping that he would organize the Kurds to act as a buffer against the Turks, who had territorial claims over Mosul
Mosul
Mosul , is a city in northern Iraq and the capital of the Ninawa Governorate, some northwest of Baghdad. The original city stands on the west bank of the Tigris River, opposite the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh on the east bank, but the metropolitan area has now grown to encompass substantial...

 and Kirkuk
Kirkuk
Kirkuk is a city in Iraq and the capital of Kirkuk Governorate.It is located in the Iraqi governorate of Kirkuk, north of the capital, Baghdad...

. Shaikh Mahmoud declared a Kurdish Kingdom with himself as king, though later he agreed to limited autonomy within the new state of Iraq. In 1930, following the announcement of the admission of Iraq to the League of Nations, Shaikh Mahmoud started a third uprising which was suppressed with British air and ground forces.

By 1927, the Barzani clan
Barzani Kurds
The Barzani tribe is one of the most prominent Kurdish tribes in Kurdistan.The origin of the word Barzani is connected by scholars to the ancient Hurrian god Barzani. The sheikhs of Barzan are descendants of Imadia princes. Their grandfather, Massoud, moved to the village of Nafneka, near Barzan,...

 had become vocal supporters of Kurdish rights in Iraq. In 1929, the Barzani demanded the formation of a Kurdish province in northern Iraq. Emboldened by these demands, in 1931 Kurdish notables petitioned the League of Nations to set up an independent Kurdish government. Under pressure from the Iraqi government and the British, the most influential leader of the clan, Mustafa Barzani
Mustafa Barzani
Mustafa Barzani also known as Mullah Mustafa was a Kurdish nationalist leader, and the most prominent political figure in the modern Kurdish politics. In 1946 he was chosen as the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party to lead the Kurdish revolution against Iraqi regimes...

 was forced into exile in Iran in 1945. Later he moved to the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 after the collapse of the Republic of Mahabad
Republic of Mahabad
The Republic of Mahabad , officially known as Republic of Kurdistan and established in Iranian Kurdistan, was a short-lived, Kurdish government that sought Kurdish autonomy within the limits of the Iranian state. The capital was the city of Mahabad in northwestern Iran...

 in 1946.

Barzani Revolt 1960–1970


After the military coup
14 July Revolution
The 14 July Revolution was a coup which took place on 14 July 1958 in Iraq, marking the overthrow of the Hashemite monarchy established by King Faisal I in 1932 under the auspices of the British. In 1958, the coup overthrew King Faisal II, the regent and Crown Prince 'Abd al-Ilah, and Prime...

 by Abdul Karim Qasim in 1958, Mustafa Barzani
Mustafa Barzani
Mustafa Barzani also known as Mullah Mustafa was a Kurdish nationalist leader, and the most prominent political figure in the modern Kurdish politics. In 1946 he was chosen as the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party to lead the Kurdish revolution against Iraqi regimes...

 was invited by Qasim to return from exile, where he was greeted with a hero's welcome. As part of the deal arranged between Qasim and Barzani, Qasim had promised to give the Kurds regional autonomy in return for Barzani's support for his policies. Meanwhile, during 1959–1960, Barzani became the head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which was granted legal status in 1960. By early 1960, it became apparent that Qasim would not follow through with his promise of regional autonomy. As a result, the KDP began to agitate for regional autonomy. In the face of growing Kurdish dissent, as well as Barzani's personal power, Qasim began to incite the Barzanis historical enemies, the Baradost and Zebari tribes, which led to inter-tribal warfare throughout 1960 and early 1961. By February 1961, Barzani had successfully defeated the pro-government forces and consolidated his position as leader of the Kurds. At this point, Barzani ordered his forces to occupy and expel government officials from all Kurdish territory. This was not received well in Baghdad, and as a result, Qasim began to prepare for a military offensive against the north to return government control of the region. Meanwhile, in June 1961, the KDP issued a detailed ultimatum to Qasim outlining Kurdish grievances and demanded rectification. Qasim ignored the Kurdish demands and continued his planning for war. It was not until September 10, when an Iraqi army column was ambushed by a group of Kurds, that the Kurdish revolt truly began. In response to the attack, Qasim lashed out and ordered the Iraqi Air Force
Iraqi Air Force
The Iraqi Air Force or IQAF is the military branch in Iraq responsible for the policing of international borders, surveillance of national assets and aerial operations...

 to indiscriminately bomb Kurdish villages, which ultimately served to rally the entire Kurdish population to Barzani's standard. Due to Qasim's profound distrust of the Iraqi Army
Iraqi Army
The Iraqi Army is the land component of the Iraqi military, active in various forms since being formed by the British during their mandate over the country after World War I....

, which he purposely failed to adequately arm (in fact, Qasim implemented a policy of ammunition rationing), Qasim's government was not able to subdue the insurrection. This stalemate irritated powerful factions within the military and is said to be one of the main reasons behind the Ba'athist
Ba'athism
Ba'athism is an Arab nationalist ideology that promotes the development and creation of an Arab nation through the leadership of a vanguard party over a progressive revolutionary state. The ideology is officially based on the theories of Zaki al-Arsuzi , Michel Aflaq and Salah al-Din al-Bitar...

 coup against Qasim in February 1963. In November 1963, after considerable infighting amongst the civilian and military wings of the Ba'athists, they were ousted by Abdul Salam Arif
Abdul Salam Arif
Abdul Salam Mohammed Arif Aljumaily was President of Iraq from 1963 till his death. He played a leading role in the coup in which the Hashemite monarchy was overthrown on July 14, 1958.-1958 revolution and conflict with Qasim:...

 in a coup. Then, after another failed offensive, Arif declared a ceasefire in February 1964 which provoked a split among Kurdish urban radicals on one hand and Peshmerga
Peshmerga
Peshmerga or Peshmerge is the term used by Kurds to refer to armed Kurdish fighters. Literally meaning "those who face death" the Peshmerga forces of Kurdistan have been in existence since the advent of the Kurdish independence movement in the early 1920s, following the collapse of the Ottoman...

 (Freedom fighters) forces led by Barzani on the other. Barzani agreed to the ceasefire and fired the radicals from the party. Following the unexpected death of Arif, where upon he was replaced by his brother, Abdul Rahman Arif
Abdul Rahman Arif
Hajj Abdul Rahman Mohammed Arif Aljumaily was president of Iraq from April 16, 1966 to July 17, 1968.-Biography:...

, the Iraqi government launched a last-ditch effort to defeat the Kurds. This campaign failed in May 1966, when Barzani forces thoroughly defeated the Iraqi Army at the Battle of Mount Handrin, near Rawanduz. At this battle, it was said that the Kurds slaughtered an entire brigade. Recognizing the futility of continuing this campaign, Rahamn Arif announced a 12-point peace program in June 1966, which was not implemented due to the overthrow of Rahman Arif in a 1968 coup by the Baath Party
Baath Party
The Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party was a political party mixing Arab nationalist and Arab socialist interests, opposed to Western imperialism, and calling for the renaissance or resurrection and unification of the Arab world into a single state. Ba'ath is also spelled Ba'th or Baath and means...

. The Ba'ath government started a campaign to end the Kurdish insurrection, which stalled in 1969. This can be partly attributed to the internal power struggle in Baghdad and also tensions with Iran. Moreover, the Soviet Union pressured the Iraqis to come to terms with Barzani. A peace plan was announced in March 1970 and provided for broader Kurdish autonomy. The plan also gave Kurds representation in government bodies, to be implemented in four years. Despite this, the Iraqi government embarked on an Arabization program in the oil rich regions of Kirkuk and Khanaqin
Khanaqin
Khanaqin is a city in Iraq. It is located at 34.3°N, 45.4°E in the Diyala Governorate, near the Iranian border on a tributary of the Diyala River...

 in the same period. In the following years, Baghdad government overcame its internal divisions and concluded a treaty of friendship with the Soviet Union in April 1972 and ended its isolation within the Arab world. On the other hand, Kurds remained dependent on the Iranian military support and could do little to strengthen their forces.

Second Kurdish Iraqi War and Algiers agreement



In 1973, the U.S. made a secret agreement with the Shah of Iran to begin covertly funding Kurdish rebels against Bagdad in through the Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

 and in collaboration with Mossad
Mossad
The Mossad , short for HaMossad leModi'in uleTafkidim Meyuchadim , is the national intelligence agency of Israel....

, both of which would be active in the country through the launch of the Iraqi invasion and into the present. By 1974, the Iraqi government retaliated with a new offensive
Second Kurdish Iraqi War
Second Kurdish Iraqi War was an offensive, led by Iraqi forces against rebel KDP troops of Mustafa Barzani during 1974-1975. The war came in the aftermath of the First Kurdish Iraqi War , as the 1970 peace plan for Kurdish autonomy had failed....

 against the Kurds and pushed them close to the border with Iran. Iraq informed Tehran
Tehran
Tehran , sometimes spelled Teheran, is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With an estimated population of 8,429,807; it is also Iran's largest urban area and city, one of the largest cities in Western Asia, and is the world's 19th largest city.In the 20th century, Tehran was subject to...

 that it was willing to satisfy other Iranian demands in return for an end to its aid to the Kurds. With mediation by Algeria
Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

n President Houari Boumédiènne, Iran and Iraq reached a comprehensive settlement in March 1975 known as the Algiers Pact. The agreement left the Kurds helpless and Tehran cut supplies to the Kurdish movement. Barzani went to Iran with many of his supporters. Others surrendered en masse and the rebellion ended after a few days. As a result Iraqi government extended its control over the northern region after 15 years and in order to secure its influence, started an Arabization
Arabization
Arabization or Arabisation describes a growing cultural influence on a non-Arab area that gradually changes into one that speaks Arabic and/or incorporates Arab culture...

 program by moving Arabs to the vicinity of oil fields in Kurdistan, particularly the ones around Kirkuk. The repressive measures carried out by the government against the Kurds after the Algiers agreement led to renewed clashes between the Iraqi Army and Kurdish guerrillas in 1977. In 1978 and 1979, 600 Kurdish villages were burned down and around 200,000 Kurds were deported to the other parts of the country.

Iran–Iraq War and Anfal Campaign


During the Iran–Iraq War, the Iraqi government again implemented anti-Kurdish policies and a de facto civil war broke out. Iraq was widely condemned by the international community, but was never seriously punished for oppressive measures, including the use of chemical weapons
Chemical warfare
Chemical warfare involves using the toxic properties of chemical substances as weapons. This type of warfare is distinct from Nuclear warfare and Biological warfare, which together make up NBC, the military acronym for Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical...

 against the Kurds, which resulted in thousands of deaths. (See Halabja poison gas attack
Halabja poison gas attack
The Halabja poison gas attack , also known as Halabja massacre or Bloody Friday, was a genocidal massacre against the Kurdish people that took place on March 16, 1988, during the closing days of the Iran–Iraq War, when chemical weapons were used by the Iraqi government forces in the Kurdish town of...

.)

The Al-Anfal Campaign
Al-Anfal Campaign
The al-Anfal Campaign , also known as Operation Anfal or simply Anfal, was a genocidal campaign against the Kurdish people in Northern Iraq, led by the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein and headed by Ali Hassan al-Majid in the final stages of Iran-Iraq War...

 constituted a systematic genocide
Genocide
Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

 of the Kurdish people
Kurdish people
The Kurdish people, or Kurds , are an Iranian people native to the Middle East, mostly inhabiting a region known as Kurdistan, which includes adjacent parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey...

 in Iraq. The first wave of the plan was carried out in 1982 when 8,000 Barzanis were arrested and their remains were returned to Kurdistan in 2008. The second and more extensive and widespread wave began from March 29, 1987 until April 23, 1989, when the Iraqi army under the command of Ali Hassan al-Majid
Ali Hassan al-Majid
Ali Hassan Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti , , was a Ba'athist Iraqi Defense Minister, Interior Minister, military commander and chief of the Iraqi Intelligence Service...

 carried out a genocidal campaign against the Kurds, characterized by the following human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

 violations: The widespread use of chemical weapons, the wholesale destruction of some 2,000 villages, and slaughter of around 50,000 rural Kurds, by the most conservative estimates. The large Kurdish town of Qala Dizeh (population 70,000) was completely destroyed by the Iraqi army. The campaign also included Arabization of Kirkuk, a program to drive Kurds and other ethnic groups out of the oil-rich city and replace them with Arab settlers from central and southern Iraq.

Massacre of Iraqi Kurdish People by PMOI


On July 13, 2003, New York Times published an article that in 1991 when Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was the fifth President of Iraq, serving in this capacity from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003...

 used the People's Mujahedin of Iran
People's Mujahedin of Iran
The People's Mujahedin of Iran is a terrorist militant organization that advocates the overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Iran....

 (Mujahedin-e Khalq, PMOI or MEK or MKO) and its tanks as advance forces to crush the Iraqi Kurdish people in the north and the Iraqi Shia people in the south, Maryam Rajavi
Maryam Rajavi
Maryam Rajavi is an Iranian politician who is President elect of National Council of Resistance of Iran, a front group for People's Mujahedin of Iran, since 1993. She is the wife of Massoud Rajavi, a founder of the People's Mujahedin of Iran...

 as then leader of PMOI's army forces commanded:
On December 14, 2006, Time Magazine published an article about PMOI and reported: "By the mid-1980s, the group (PMOI) had cozied up to Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was the fifth President of Iraq, serving in this capacity from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003...

, who provided them with funds and a compound, Camp Ashraf, north of Baghdad. The U.S. government has accused the group of helping Saddam
Saddam
–Saddam is an Arabic name which means "One who confronts", other meanings include: "One who frequently causes collisions", "Powerful collider", "One who causes a collision that had bad results", "Powerful confronter", "One who frequently crashes", or "Powerful commander"...

 brutally put down Iraqi Kurdish people in the early 1990s, and of launching numerous attacks inside Iran."

After the Persian Gulf War



Regional autonomy had originally been established in 1970 with the creation of the Kurdish Autonomous Region following the agreement of an Autonomy Accord between the government of Iraq and leaders of the Iraqi Kurdish community. A Legislative Assembly was established and Arbil became the capital of the new entity which lay in Northern Iraq, encompassing the Kurdish authorities of Erbil, Dahuk and Sulaymaniyah. The one-party rule which had dominated Iraq however meant that the new assembly was an overall component of Baghdad's central government; the Kurdish authority was installed by Baghdad and no multi-party system had been inaugurated in Iraqi Kurdistan, and as such the local population enjoyed no particular democratic freedom denied to the rest of the country. Things began to change after the 1991 uprising against Saddam Hussein following the end of the Persian Gulf War. United Nations Security Council
United Nations Security Council
The United Nations Security Council is one of the principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of...

 Resolution 688 gave birth to a safe haven following international concern for the safety of Kurdish refugees. The US and British government established a No Fly Zone over a large part of northern Iraq (see Operation Provide Comfort
Operation Provide Comfort
Operation Provide Comfort and Provide Comfort II were military operations by the United States and some of its Gulf War allies, starting in April 1991, to defend Kurds fleeing their homes in northern Iraq in the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War and deliver humanitarian aid to them.-Operation...

), however, it left out Sulaymaniyah, Kirkuk and other important Kurdish populated regions. Bloody clashes between Iraqi forces and Kurdish troops continued and, after an uneasy and shaky balance of power was reached, the Iraqi government fully withdrew its military and other personnel from the region in October 1991 allowing Iraqi Kurdistan to function de facto independently. The region was to be ruled by the two principal Kurdish parties; the KDP and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan
The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan is a Kurdish political party in Iraqi Kurdistan. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan was founded on June 1, 1975, by coordinations between Jalal Talabani and Nawshirwan Mustafa...

 (PUK). The region also has its own flag and national anthem
National anthem
A national anthem is a generally patriotic musical composition that evokes and eulogizes the history, traditions and struggles of its people, recognized either by a nation's government as the official national song, or by convention through use by the people.- History :Anthems rose to prominence...

.

At the same time, Iraq imposed an economic blockade over the region, reducing its oil and food supplies. Elections held in June 1992
Iraqi Kurdistan legislative election, 1992
On May 19, 1992, elections were held to the Kurdistan National Assembly, the parliament of the Kurdish Autonomous Region in Iraq. At the time, the National Assembly had 105 seats, of which 5 were reserved for the Assyrian community. Parties had to achieve more than 7% of the vote to be elected....

 produced an inconclusive outcome, with the assembly divided almost equally between the two main parties and their allies. During this period, the Kurds were subjected to a double embargo
Embargo
An embargo is the partial or complete prohibition of commerce and trade with a particular country, in order to isolate it. Embargoes are considered strong diplomatic measures imposed in an effort, by the imposing country, to elicit a given national-interest result from the country on which it is...

: one imposed by the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 on Iraq and one imposed by Saddam Hussein on their region. The severe economic hardships caused by the embargoes, fueled tensions between the two dominant political parties; the KDP the PUK over control of trade routes and resources. Relations between the PUK and the KDP started to become dangerously strained from September 1993 after rounds of amalgamations occurred between parties. This led to internecine and intra-Kurdish conflict and warfare between 1994 and 1996. After 1996, 13% of the Iraqi oil sales were allocated for Iraqi Kurdistan and this led to a relative prosperity in the region. Saddam had established an oil smuggling route through territory controlled by the KDP, with the active involvement of senior Barzani family members. The taxation of this trade at the crossing point between Saddam’s territory and Kurdish controlled territory and then into Turkey, along with associated service revenue, meant that who ever controlled Dohuk and Zakho had the potential to earn several million dollars a week. Direct United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 mediation led the two parties to a formal ceasefire in Washington Agreement in September 1998. It is also argued that the Oil for Food Program from 1997 onward had an important effect on cessation of hostilities.

After the 2003 US-led invasion



Iraqi Kurds have played an important role in the 2nd Gulf War, “Operation Iraqi Freedom" Kurdish parties joined forces against the Iraqi government in the Operation Iraqi Freedom in Spring 2003. The Kurdish military forces known as peshmerga
Peshmerga
Peshmerga or Peshmerge is the term used by Kurds to refer to armed Kurdish fighters. Literally meaning "those who face death" the Peshmerga forces of Kurdistan have been in existence since the advent of the Kurdish independence movement in the early 1920s, following the collapse of the Ottoman...

 played a key role in the overthrow of the former Iraqi government, however Kurds have been reluctant to send troops into Baghdad since, preferring not to be dragged into the sectarian struggle that so dominates much of Iraq. The Iraqi Kurds may be seen in two ways. The first and the most common way is to view the Kurds as victims, both of the central government in Iraq and of neighboring powers - particularly Turkey. The second opposing position is to see them as an agent provocateur, acting as proxy forces for states opposed to the incumbent Iraqi regime. This polarised notion of their status may be too simple, when one considers that there are opposing agendas within Iraqi Kurdistan with regard to issues such as the relationship with Turkey, nationalist aspirations and relations globally.

PUK-leader Jalal Talabani
Jalal Talabani
Jalal Talabani is the sixth and current President of Iraq, a leading Kurdish politician. He is the first non-Arab president of Iraq, although Abdul Kareem Qasim was half Kurdish....

 was elected President of the new Iraqi administration, while KDP leader Massoud Barzani
Massoud Barzani
Massoud Barzani is the current President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region and the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party. Barzani was born in Mahabad, Iran, during the rule of the Republic of Mahabad...

 is President of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

Since the downfall of the regime of Saddam Hussein, the relations between the KRG and Turkey have been in flux. Tensions marked a high stage in late February 2008 when Turkey unilaterally took military action
2008 Turkish incursion into northern Iraq
The 2008 Turkish incursion into northern Iraq, code-named Operation Sun by the Turkish Armed Forces, began on February 21, 2008, when the Turkish Army sent troops into northern Iraq to target the Kurdistan Workers Party . The ground offensive was preceded by Turkish Air Force aerial bombardments...

 against the PKK which at times uses the northern Iraq region as a base for millitant activities against Turkey. The incursion which lasted 8 days could have involved the armed forces of Kurdistan into a broader regional war. However, relations have been improved since then, and Turkey now has the largest share of foreign investment in Kurdistan.

Politics



Since 1992, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has been based in Arbil. The KRG has a parliament, elected by popular vote, called the Iraqi Kurdistan National Assembly, and a cabinet composed of the KDP, the PUK and their allies (Iraqi Communist Party
Iraqi Communist Party
Since its foundation in 1934, the Iraqi Communist Party has dominated the left in Iraqi politics. It played a fundamental role in shaping the political history of Iraq between its foundation and the 1970s. The Party was involved in many of the most important national uprisings and demonstrations...

, the Socialist Party of Kurdistan etc.). Structurally and officially, the two parties exhibit few differences from each other. Both of their international organizations are similar and both have a similar structure of authority. Nechirvan Idris Barzani, Masoud’s nephew, was been prime minister of the KRG from 1999–2009, including presiding over the first KDP-PUK unified cabinet from 2006-2009. Masrour, Masoud’s son, is now in the Political Bureau. Nechirvan, as Prime Minister, spearheaded unprecedented social and economic reforms, including attention to violence against women, improvements in infrastructure, and a focus on the private sector and foreign investment. He has also been at the forefront of the rapprochement with Turkey and the active development of oil and gas fields in the Region. According to Bruinessen, the traditional structure of Kurdish social and political organization was inherently tribal, with a tribe being a socio-political unit with distinct territorial limits and membership based on kinship. Tribal power is widespread in Arbil
Arbil
Arbil / Hewlêr is the fourth largest city in Iraq after Baghdad, Basra and Mosul...

 and Dahuk. And one must recognize the cultural differences between Arbil
Arbil
Arbil / Hewlêr is the fourth largest city in Iraq after Baghdad, Basra and Mosul...

 and Sulaymaniyah
Sulaymaniyah
Sulaymaniyah is a city in Iraqi Kurdistan, Iraq. It is the capital of Sulaymaniyah Governorate. Sulaymaniyah is surrounded by the Azmar Range, Goizja Range and the Qaiwan Range in the north east, Baranan Mountain in the south and the Tasluje Hills in the west. The city has a semi-arid climate with...

 to understand the political nature of the region.

After the 2003 Invasion of Iraq
2003 invasion of Iraq
The 2003 invasion of Iraq , was the start of the conflict known as the Iraq War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 21 days of major combat operations...

 Kurdish politicians were represented in the Iraqi governing council
Iraqi Governing Council
The Iraqi Governing Council was the provisional government of Iraq from July 13, 2003 to June 1, 2004. It was established by and served under the United States-led Coalition Provisional Authority...

. On January 30, 2005 three elections were held in the region: 1) for Transitional National Assembly of Iraq 2) for Iraqi Kurdistan National Assembly and 3) for provincial councils. The Law of Administration for the State of Iraq for the Transitional Period
Law of Administration for the State of Iraq for the Transitional Period
The Law of Administration for the State of Iraq for the Transitional Period , was Iraq's provisional constitution following the 2003 Iraq War. It was signed on March 8, 2004 by the Iraqi Governing Council...

 recognized the autonomy of the Kurdistan Regional Government during the interim between "full sovereignty" and the adoption
Iraqi constitution ratification vote, 2005
The electorate of Iraq went to the polls on 15 October 2005 to vote in a referendum on whether or not to ratify the proposed constitution of Iraq. After 10 days of counting votes, the country's electoral commission announced that the constitution had been approved by a wide margin nationwide...

 of a permanent constitution
Constitution of Iraq
The Constitution of Iraq is Iraq's fundamental law.-History:Iraq's first constitution, which established a constitutional monarchy, entered into force under the auspices of a British military occupation in 1925 and remained in effect until the 1958 revolution established a republic...

.

The Kurdistan Regional Government has constitutionally recognised authority over the provinces of Arbil, Dahuk, and Sulaymaniyah.

Elections


Elections for the Kurdistan National Assembly
Kurdistan National Assembly
The Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament or IKP is the parliament of Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraqi Kurdistan. The IKP is made up of representatives from the various parties, lists or slates that are elected every four years to serve by the inhabitants of the provinces of Iraqi Kurdistan currently...

 are held every four years. The latest elections for the parliament of Kurdistan were held on 25 July 2009. The leading political alliance was the Kurdistani List which consisted of the two main political parties, PUK
PUK
PUK may stand for:* Patriotic Union of Kurdistan * Partia e Unitetit Kombėtar * Pin Unlock Key used in GSM mobile phones* Prefectural University of KumamotoPuk may refer to:...

 and PDK, and which won 59 seats. The new less popular competing movement, the Gorran
Movement for Change
The Movement for Change also known as Change List or Gorran is a reformist Iraqi Kurdish political party under the leadership of Nawshirwan Mustafa, founded in 2009 it is the official opposition to the ruling two-party coalition of the Kurdistan Democratic Party and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan...

 List ("Gorran" means "change" in Kurdish
Kurdish language
Kurdish is a dialect continuum spoken by the Kurds in western Asia. It is part of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian group of Indo-European languages....

) headed by Nawshirwan Mustafa
Nawshirwan Mustafa
Nawshirwan Mustafa in Sulaymaniyah Kurdistan is the chairman of the Movement for Change and the leader of the official opposition in the Kurdistan Region.- Early life :...

 won 25 seats, a quarter of all parliamentary seats. The Gorran List had a strong showing in the city of Sulaymaniyah
Sulaymaniyah
Sulaymaniyah is a city in Iraqi Kurdistan, Iraq. It is the capital of Sulaymaniyah Governorate. Sulaymaniyah is surrounded by the Azmar Range, Goizja Range and the Qaiwan Range in the north east, Baranan Mountain in the south and the Tasluje Hills in the west. The city has a semi-arid climate with...

 and the Sulaymaniyah governnorate, which was previously considered PUK's stronghold. The Reform List, consisting of 4 parties, won 13 seats. In addition, the Islamic movement won 2 seats and 11 seats were reserved for minority parties Turkmen
Iraqi Turkmen
The Iraqi Turkmen are an ethnic group who mainly reside in northern Iraq. Estimates of their numbers vary dramatically, in accordance with Iraq's assimilation policies no realistic and independent census results have been revealed regarding the Iraqi Turkmen population...

 (5 seats), Assyrians (5 seats) and Armenians
Armenians
Armenian people or Armenians are a nation and ethnic group native to the Armenian Highland.The largest concentration is in Armenia having a nearly-homogeneous population with 97.9% or 3,145,354 being ethnic Armenian....

 (1 seat).

In the Presidential election Masoud Barzani was appointed President and won another term in 2009 by gaining 70% of votes. Dr. Kamal Miraudeli came second with approximately 30% of votes.

Elections for the governorate councils are held every four years. Each council consists of 41 members. The last governorate council election of Kurdistan
Iraqi Kurdistan legislative election, 2009
The Iraqi Kurdistan legislative elections of 2009 took place on 25 July 2009. A total of 2.5 million citizens of Iraqi Kurdistan were eligible to vote for the parliamentary and presidential elections. People currently living outside Iraqi Kurdistan were not allowed to vote. The elections followed...

 was held in 2009.

Foreign relations


The Kurdistan Region is allowed to have oversight, to some degree, of its own foreign relations without referring to Baghdad.

Iraqi Kurdistan houses numerous consulates, embassy offices, trade offices and honorary consulates of countries that want to increase their influence and have better ties with the Kurdistan Regional Government
Kurdistan Regional Government
The Kurdistan Regional Government , , is the official ruling body of the predominantly Kurds-populated Kurdistan Region in Northern Iraq...

. As of October 2010 there were 20 diplomatic representations in the Region, including Turkey.

The representative of the Kurdistan Regional Government to the United States is the youngest son of Iraqi president Jalal Talabani
Jalal Talabani
Jalal Talabani is the sixth and current President of Iraq, a leading Kurdish politician. He is the first non-Arab president of Iraq, although Abdul Kareem Qasim was half Kurdish....

, Qubad Talabani
Qubad Talabani
Qubad Talabani is the Kurdistan Regional Government representative in the United States.He is the second son of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.-Early life:...

. The KRG's high representative to the United Kingdom is Bayan Sami Abdul-Rahman, daughter of Sami Abdul-Rahman who was killed in a terrorist attack on 1 February 2004.

Media


Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Its headquarters are in New York City and it has offices in Berlin, Beirut, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo,...

 reported that journalists in Iraqi Kurdistan who criticize the regional government have faced substantial violence, threats, and lawsuits in recent months, and some have fled the country,

Violence against women


Human Rights Watch reported that Female genital cutting
Female genital cutting
Female genital mutilation , also known as female genital cutting and female circumcision, is defined by the World Health Organization as "all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons."FGM...

 is practiced mainly by Kurds in Iraqi Kurdistan, reportedly 60% percent of Kurdish women population have undergone this procedure, although the KRG claimed that the figures are exaggerated. Girls and women receive conflicting and inaccurate messages from public officials on its consequences.
The Kurdistan parliament in 2008 passed a draft law outlawing the practice, but the ministerial decree necessary to implement it, expected in February 2009, was cancelled .

As reported to the Centre for Islamic Pluralism by the non-governmental organization Stop FGM in Kurdistan, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq, on 25 November, officially admitted the wide prevalence in the territory of female genital mutilation (FGM). Recognition by the KRG of the frequency of this custom among Kurds came during a conference program commemorating the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

On 27 November 2010, the Kurdish government officially admitted to violence against women in Kurdistan and began taking serious measures. 21 June 2011 The Family Violence Bill was approved by the Kurdistan Parliament, it includes several provisions criminalizing the practrice

Religious tolerance in Kurdistan


British lawmaker Robert Halfon sees Kurdistan as a more progressive Muslim region than the other Muslim countries in the Middle East. The region has populations of Assyrian Christians, Yazidi
Yazidi
The Yazidi are members of a Kurdish religion with ancient Indo-Iranian roots. They are primarily a Kurdish-speaking people living in the Mosul region of northern Iraq, with additional communities in Transcaucasia, Armenia, Turkey, and Syria in decline since the 1990s – their members emigrating to...

, Yarsan, Mandean and Shabak
Shabak people
Shabak people are an ethnic and religious minority group living in northern Iraq, who live mainly in the villages of Ali Rash, Khazna, Yangidja, and Tallara in Sinjar district in the province of Ninawa in northern Iraq. Their language, Shabaki, is a Northwestern Iranian language very close to...

 faiths.

Minority rights in Kurdistan


Although the Kurdish regional parliament has officially recognised other minorities such as Assyrians
Assyrian people
The Assyrian people are a distinct ethnic group whose origins lie in ancient Mesopotamia...

, Turkmen
Iraqi Turkmen
The Iraqi Turkmen are an ethnic group who mainly reside in northern Iraq. Estimates of their numbers vary dramatically, in accordance with Iraq's assimilation policies no realistic and independent census results have been revealed regarding the Iraqi Turkmen population...

, Arabs, Armenians, Mandeans, Shabaks
Shabak people
Shabak people are an ethnic and religious minority group living in northern Iraq, who live mainly in the villages of Ali Rash, Khazna, Yangidja, and Tallara in Sinjar district in the province of Ninawa in northern Iraq. Their language, Shabaki, is a Northwestern Iranian language very close to...

 and Yezidis, there have been multiple accusations of attempts to "kurdify" them. The Assyrians have reported Kurdish officials reluctance in rebuilding Assyrian villages in their region while constructing more settlements for the Kurds affected during the Anfal campaign.
After his visit to the region, the Dutch politician Joël Voordewind
Joël Voordewind
Joël Stephanus Voordewind is a Dutch politician and former development aid worker. As a member of the ChristianUnion he has been an MP since November 30, 2006...

 noted that the positions reserved for minorities in the Kurdish parliament where appointed by Kurds as the Assyrians for example had no possibility to nominate their own candidates.

The Kurdish regional government have been accused of trying to kurdify other regions such as the Assyrian Nineveh plains
Nineveh plains
Nineveh plains is a region in the Ninawa Governorate of Iraq to the north and west of the city Mosul. The area generally consists of three districts; Tel Keppe, Al-Hamdaniya, and Al-Shikhan...

 and Kirkuk
Kirkuk
Kirkuk is a city in Iraq and the capital of Kirkuk Governorate.It is located in the Iraqi governorate of Kirkuk, north of the capital, Baghdad...

 by providing financial support for Kurds who want to settle in those areas.

Economy


The Kurdistan region's economy
Economic system
An economic system is the combination of the various agencies, entities that provide the economic structure that defines the social community. These agencies are joined by lines of trade and exchange along which goods, money etc. are continuously flowing. An example of such a system for a closed...

 is dominated by the oil industry, agriculture
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

 and tourism
Tourism
Tourism is travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes. The World Tourism Organization defines tourists as people "traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes".Tourism has become a...

. Due to relative peace in the region it has a more developed economy in comparison to other parts of Iraq.

Prior to the removal of Saddam Hussein, the Kurdistan Regional Government received approximately 13% of the revenues from Iraq's Oil-for-Food Program. By the time of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, the program had disbursed $8.35 billion to the KRG. Iraqi Kurdistan's food security allowed for substantially more of the funds to be spent on development projects than in the rest of Iraq. By the program's end in 2003 $4 billion of the KRG's oil-for-food funds remained unspent.

Following the removal of Saddam Hussein's administration and the subsequent violence, the three provinces fully under the Kurdistan Regional Government's control were the only three in Iraq to be ranked "secure" by the US military. The relative security and stability of the region has allowed the KRG to sign a number of investment contracts with foreign companies. In 2006, the first new oil well since the invasion of Iraq was drilled in the Kurdistan region by the Norwegian
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 energy company DNO
DNO ASA
DNO International ASA is an independent international upstream oil and gas company. The company has its headquarters in Oslo, Norway and is listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange. DNO operates exploration licenses and producing assets in Yemen, the Kurdistan region of Iraq, Mozambique, Equatorial Guinea...

. Initial indications are that the oil field contains at least 100 Moilbbl of oil and will be pumping 5000 oilbbl/d by early 2007. The KRG has signed exploration
Oil exploration
Hydrocarbon exploration is the search by petroleum geologists and geophysicists for hydrocarbon deposits beneath the Earth's surface, such as oil and natural gas...

 agreements with several other oil companies, including Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

's Western Oil Sands
Western Oil Sands
Western Oil Sands, headquartered in Calgary, Alberta was a 20 percent partner in the Athabasca Oil Sands Project. Together with their partners, Western Oil Sands mines and extracts recoverable bitumen reserves at the Muskeg River Mine for transportation to the Scotford Upgrader, 435 km to the...

  and the UK's Sterling Energy and Gulf Keystone Petroleum.

The stability of the Kurdistan region has allowed it to achieve a higher level of development than other regions in Iraq. In 2004, the per capita income was 25% higher than in the rest of Iraq. The government continues to receive a portion of the revenue from Iraq's oil exports, and the government will soon implement a unified foreign investment law. The KRG also has plans to build a media city in Arbil and free trade zone
Free trade zone
A free trade zone or export processing zone , also called foreign-trade zone, formerly free port is an area within which goods may be landed, handled, manufactured or reconfigured, and reexported without the intervention of the customs authorities...

s near the borders of Turkey and Iran.

Since 2003, the stronger economy of Iraqi Kurdistan has attracted around 20,000 workers from other parts of Iraq. According to Iraqi president Jalal Talabani
Jalal Talabani
Jalal Talabani is the sixth and current President of Iraq, a leading Kurdish politician. He is the first non-Arab president of Iraq, although Abdul Kareem Qasim was half Kurdish....

, since 2003 the number of millionaires in the Kurdish city of Silêmani has increased from 12 to 2000, reflecting the financial and economic growth of the region.

Iraqi Kurdistan currently has the lowest poverty rates in Iraq. According to the KRG website, not a single coalition soldier has died nor a single foreigner been kidnapped since the 2003 invasion of Iraq in areas administered by the KRG.

Infrastructure and transport


Due to the devastation of the campaigns of the Iraqi army under Saddam Hussein and other former Iraqi regimes, the Kurdistan Region's infrastructure was never able to modernize. After the 1991 safe-haven was established, the Kurdistan Regional Government began with projects to reconstruct the Kurdistan Region. Since then, of all the 4,500 villages that were destroyed by Saddam Husseins' regime, 65% has been reconstructed by the KRG. Further, since the removal of the previous regime in 2003, the KRG has been able to scale up its service delivery and infrastructure, which has been changed the economic landscape of the region and facilitated a number of investment projects.

Mobility



Iraqi Kurdistan can be reached by land and air. By land, Iraqi Kurdistan can be reached most easily by Turkey through the Habur Border Gate which is the only border gate between Kurdistan and Turkey. This border gate can be reached by bus or taxi from airports in Turkey as close as the Mardin
Mardin Airport
Mardin Airport is an airport in Mardin, Turkey .Mardin Airport temporarily closed on June 14th in order to perform maintenance to the runway. It is scheduled to be closed through the end of 2011.- Traffic Statistics :Source: DHMI.gov.tr-References:...

 or Diyarbakir
Diyarbakir Airport
Diyarbakır Airport is a military airbase and public airport located in Diyarbakır, Turkey.Diyarbakır Airport is home to the 8th Air Wing of the 2nd Air Force Command of the Turkish Air Force...

 airports, as well as from Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

 or Ankara
Ankara
Ankara is the capital of Turkey and the country's second largest city after Istanbul. The city has a mean elevation of , and as of 2010 the metropolitan area in the entire Ankara Province had a population of 4.4 million....

. Iraqi Kurdistan has two border gates with Iran, the Haji Omaran border gate and the Bashmeg border gate near the city of Sulaymaniyah
Sulaymaniyah
Sulaymaniyah is a city in Iraqi Kurdistan, Iraq. It is the capital of Sulaymaniyah Governorate. Sulaymaniyah is surrounded by the Azmar Range, Goizja Range and the Qaiwan Range in the north east, Baranan Mountain in the south and the Tasluje Hills in the west. The city has a semi-arid climate with...

. Iraqi Kurdistan has also a border gate with Syria known as the Faysh Khabur border gate. From within Iraq, Kurdistan Region can be reached by land from multiple roads.

Iraqi Kurdistan has opened its doors to the international world by opening two international airports. Erbil International Airport
Erbil International Airport
-Cargo airlines:-External links:** A catalog of airlines serving EIA with contact information and firsthand experience....

 and Sulaimaniyah International Airport
Sulaimaniyah International Airport
Sulaimaniyah International Airport is an airport 15 kilometers outside of the city of Sulaimaniyah, in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. The airport has facilities for both cargo and passengers. Sulaimaniyah International Airport has three terminals for departures, arrivals and VIP...

, which both operate flights to Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

ern and Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an destinations. The KRG spent millions of dollars on the airports to attract international carriers, and currently Austrian Airlines, Lufthansa, Etihad, Royal Jordanian, Gulf Air, Middle East Airlines, Atlas Jet, and Fly Dubai all service the Region. There are at least 2 military airfields in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Geography and climate


The Kurdistan Region is largely mountainous, with the highest point being a 3,611 m (11,847 ft) point known locally as Cheekah Dar (black tent). The mountains are part of the larger Zagros mountain range which is present in Iran as well. There are many rivers flowing and running through mountains of the region making it distinguished by its fertile lands, plentiful water, picturesque nature. The Great Zab
Great Zab
The Great Zab , , , ) is an approximately long river flowing through Turkey and Iraq. It rises in Turkey near Lake Van and joins the Tigris in Iraq south of Mosul. The drainage basin of the Great Zab covers approximately , and during its course, the rivers collects the water from a large number...

 and the Little Zab
Little Zab
The Little Zab , , ) originates in Iran and joins the Tigris in Iraq. The river is approximately long and drains an area of c. . The river is fed by rainfall and snowmelt, resulting in a peak discharge in spring and low water in summer and early fall...

 flow from the east to the west in the region. The Tigris river enters Iraq from the Kurdistan Region after flowing from Turkey.

The mountainous nature of Iraqi Kurdistan, the difference of temperatures in its various parts, and its wealth of waters, make Kurdistan a land of agriculture and tourism. In addition to various minerals, oil in particular, which for a long time was being extracted via pipeline only in Kurdistan Region through Iraq. The largest lake in the region is Lake Dukan
Lake Dukan
Lake Dukan is the largest lake in Iraqi Kurdistan. It is located close to the city of Ranya, and is a reservoir on the Little Zab created by the construction of the Dukan Dam. The Dukan Dam was built between 1954 and 1959 as a multi-purpose dam to provide water storage, irrigation and...

. In addition, there are several smaller lakes such as the Duhok Lake.

In the western and southern parts of the Kurdistan Region, the area is not as mountainous as the east. It is rolling hills and sometimes plains that make up the area. The area however is greener than the rest of Iraq.

The term "Northern Iraq" is a bit of a geographical ambiguity in usage. "North" typically refers to the Kurdistan Region. "Center" and "South" or "Center-South" when individually referring to the other areas of Iraq or the rest of the country that is not the Kurdistan Region. Most media sources continually refer to "North" and "Northern Iraq" as anywhere north of Baghdad.

Administrative divisions



Iraqi Kurdistan is divided into three governorates (Parêzge in Kurdish
Kurdish language
Kurdish is a dialect continuum spoken by the Kurds in western Asia. It is part of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian group of Indo-European languages....

). The governorates of Duhok, Erbil and Sulaymaniya form the Kurdistan Region. Each of these governorates is divided into districts with a total of 26 districts. Each district is divided into sub-districts. Governorates have a capital city, while districts and sub-districts have district centers. Points of disagreement exist between the Iraqi government and the Kurdish regional government about certain territories outside of Iraqi Kurdistan.
  • Governorates of Iraqi Kurdistan:

1. Sulaymaniyah (Silêmanî)
2. Erbil (Hewlêr)
3. Dahuk (Duhok)

Cities


The Kurdistan Region has an increasing urban population with still a significant rural population.
The following list is an incomplete list of the largest cities within the three governorates which are currently de jure and de facto under control of the Kurdistan Regional Government.


The 9 largest cities in Iraqi Kurdistan
City Population Governorate
Hewlêr
Arbil
Arbil / Hewlêr is the fourth largest city in Iraq after Baghdad, Basra and Mosul...

1,293,839 Erbil Governorate
Silêmanî
Sulaymaniyah
Sulaymaniyah is a city in Iraqi Kurdistan, Iraq. It is the capital of Sulaymaniyah Governorate. Sulaymaniyah is surrounded by the Azmar Range, Goizja Range and the Qaiwan Range in the north east, Baranan Mountain in the south and the Tasluje Hills in the west. The city has a semi-arid climate with...

1,190,251 Sulaymaniya Governorate
Dihok 950,000 Duhok Governorate
Zaxo 336,129 Duhok Governorate
Kelar
Kalar, Iraq
Kalar is a town in Iraqi Kurdistan located on Sirwan river, and to the east of Kifri and to the west of Qasri Shirin and Sarpol Zahab in Kermanshah Province in western Iran. Part of the twin towns of Smud-Kalar, Smud was renamed Rizgari after the 1991 Kurdish uprising against the Ba'ath party...

226,000 Sulaymaniya Governorate
Rewandiz
Rowanduz
The town Rawandiz is a city of Iraq, which located in the sub-district of Soran, in the Arbil Governorate of Iraqi Kurdistan, close to the Iranian border.The population in 2003 was 95,089...

102,399 Erbil Governorate
Helebce
Halabja
Halabja , is a Kurdish town in Northern Iraq, located about north-east of Baghdad and 8–10 miles from the Iranian border....

110,824 Sulaymaniya Governorate
Sêmêl 100,995 Duhok Governorate
Ranye
Ranye
Ranya is a town located in Southern Kurdistan, north east of Sulaymaniyah. The population of this city was involved in the revolutionary movement of Kurdish people from the war against the British Empire invasion during Şêx Mehmud's government, the Eylûl revolution, and the uprising which broke...

130,257 Sulaymaniya Governorate

  • Population data from World Gazetteer 2009 estimates
  • Population data not verifiable

Demographics



Due to the absence of a proper population census, the exact population of Iraqi Kurdistan as well as the rest of Iraq is unknown, but the kurdish government has recently started to publish better population figures. By 2009, Iraq had an estimated population of around 30 million as estimated by the International Monetary Fund
International Monetary Fund
The International Monetary Fund is an organization of 187 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world...

. Within the three governorates of Duhok, Arbil and Sulaymaniyah the population is 4,864,000 Iraqi Kurdistan has a young population with an estimated 40% of the population being under the age of 15.

The ethno-linguistic make-up of Iraqi Kurdistan is diverse and includes Kurds
Kurdish people
The Kurdish people, or Kurds , are an Iranian people native to the Middle East, mostly inhabiting a region known as Kurdistan, which includes adjacent parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey...

, Arabs, Assyrians
Assyrian people
The Assyrian people are a distinct ethnic group whose origins lie in ancient Mesopotamia...

, Turkmens, Armenians
Armenians
Armenian people or Armenians are a nation and ethnic group native to the Armenian Highland.The largest concentration is in Armenia having a nearly-homogeneous population with 97.9% or 3,145,354 being ethnic Armenian....

, Shabaks
Shabak people
Shabak people are an ethnic and religious minority group living in northern Iraq, who live mainly in the villages of Ali Rash, Khazna, Yangidja, and Tallara in Sinjar district in the province of Ninawa in northern Iraq. Their language, Shabaki, is a Northwestern Iranian language very close to...

, Yezidis, Roma, Circassians and Mandaeans.

Language


The Kurdistan Region’s official languages are Kurdish
Kurdish language
Kurdish is a dialect continuum spoken by the Kurds in western Asia. It is part of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian group of Indo-European languages....

 and Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

. Kurdish is the most widely spoken language and Arabic is also widely spoken and understood. The two main dialects of Kurdish are Soranî
Soranî
Soranî is the name of a Kurdish language that is spoken in Iran and Iraq. Soranî is one of the main Kurdish languages, which are a branch of the Iranian languages.- Name :...

 and Kurmanji
Kurmanji
Kurmanji or Northern Kurdish is the most commonly spoken dialect of the Kurdish language.- Scripts and books :...

.

Assyrian Neo-Aramaic
Assyrian Neo-Aramaic
Assyrian Neo-Aramaic is a Neo-Aramaic dialect, spoken by an estimated 220,000 people , formerly in the area between Lake Urmia, north-western Iran, and Siirt, south-eastern Turkey, but now more widely throughout the...

, Mandaic
Mandaic language
The Mandaic language is the language of the Mandaean religion. Classical Mandaic is used by a section of the Mandaean community in liturgical rites....

 Neo-Aramaic, Armenian
Armenian language
The Armenian language is an Indo-European language spoken by the Armenian people. It is the official language of the Republic of Armenia as well as in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The language is also widely spoken by Armenian communities in the Armenian diaspora...

, Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

, and Turkmani are also spoken by their respective communities.

Religion


Iraqi Kurdistan has a diverse religious population. The dominant religion is Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

, adhered to by the majority of its inhabitants. These include Kurds, Iraqi Turkmen, and Arabs, belonging mostly to the Sunni branch of Islam. Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, is adhered to by Assyrian
Assyrian people
The Assyrian people are a distinct ethnic group whose origins lie in ancient Mesopotamia...

 and Armenian
Armenians
Armenian people or Armenians are a nation and ethnic group native to the Armenian Highland.The largest concentration is in Armenia having a nearly-homogeneous population with 97.9% or 3,145,354 being ethnic Armenian....

 peoples (as well as by a few Kurds and Turkmen), and Yezidism make up a significant minority. Yarsan, Mandean and Shabaki
Shabak people
Shabak people are an ethnic and religious minority group living in northern Iraq, who live mainly in the villages of Ali Rash, Khazna, Yangidja, and Tallara in Sinjar district in the province of Ninawa in northern Iraq. Their language, Shabaki, is a Northwestern Iranian language very close to...

 religions are also followed.

Immigration


Since the overthrow of the regime of Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was the fifth President of Iraq, serving in this capacity from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003...

 in 2003, Iraqi Kurdistan has witnessed massive immigration from Arab parts of Iraq (particularly from Kurds, Assyrians, Armenians, Mandeans, Shabaks and Roma) as well as from South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

. Because of the stability and security, Kurdistan has witnessed non-Kurdish or non-Iraqi immigrants.

Widespread economic activity between Iraqi Kurdistan and Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 has given the opportunity for Turks to seek jobs in Iraqi Kurdistan. A Kurdish newspaper based in the Kurdish capital estimates that around 50,000 Turks are now living in Kurdistan. Reports about immigrants from Bangladesh
Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 and Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 have been published as well.

Culture



Kurdish culture is a group of distinctive cultural traits practiced by Kurdish people. The Kurdish culture is a legacy from the various ancient peoples who shaped modern Kurds and their society, but primarily Iranic. Among their neighbours, the Kurdish culture is closest to Iranian culture. For example they celebrate Newroz as the new year day, which is celebrated on March 21. It is the first day of the month of Xakelêwe in Kurdish calendar and the first day of spring. Other peoples such as Assyrians, Armenians, Arabs, Yazidis, Shabaks and Mandeans have their own distinctive cultures.

Music



Traditionally, there are three types of Kurdish classical performers - storytellers
Storytelling
Storytelling is the conveying of events in words, images and sounds, often by improvisation or embellishment. Stories or narratives have been shared in every culture as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation and in order to instill moral values...

 (çîrokbêj), minstrel
Minstrel
A minstrel was a medieval European bard who performed songs whose lyrics told stories of distant places or of existing or imaginary historical events. Although minstrels created their own tales, often they would memorize and embellish the works of others. Frequently they were retained by royalty...

s (stranbêj) and bard
Bard
In medieval Gaelic and British culture a bard was a professional poet, employed by a patron, such as a monarch or nobleman, to commemorate the patron's ancestors and to praise the patron's own activities.Originally a specific class of poet, contrasting with another class known as fili in Ireland...

s (dengbêj). There was no specific music related to the Kurdish princely courts, and instead, music performed in night gatherings (şevbihêrk) is considered classical. Several musical forms are found in this genre. Many songs are epic
Epic poetry
An epic is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation. Oral poetry may qualify as an epic, and Albert Lord and Milman Parry have argued that classical epics were fundamentally an oral poetic form...

 in nature, such as the popular lawiks which are heroic ballads recounting the tales of Kurdish heroes of the past like Saladin
Saladin
Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb , better known in the Western world as Saladin, was an Arabized Kurdish Muslim, who became the first Sultan of Egypt and Syria, and founded the Ayyubid dynasty. He led Muslim and Arab opposition to the Franks and other European Crusaders in the Levant...

. Heyrans are love ballads usually expressing the melancholy of separation and unfulfilled love. Lawje is a form of religious music and Payizoks are songs performed specifically in autumn.
Love songs, dance music, wedding and other celebratory songs (dîlok/narînk), erotic poetry and work song
Work song
A work song is a piece of music closely connected to a specific form of work, either sung while conducting a task or a song linked to a task or trade which might be a connected narrative, description, or protest song....

s are also popular.

Military



Peshmerga is the term used by Kurd
Kürd
Kürd or Kyurd or Kyurt may refer to:*Kürd Eldarbəyli, Azerbaijan*Kürd Mahrızlı, Azerbaijan*Kürd, Goychay, Azerbaijan*Kürd, Jalilabad, Azerbaijan*Kürd, Qabala, Azerbaijan*Qurdbayram, Azerbaijan...

s to refer to armed Kurdish fighters, they have been labelled by some as freedom fighters. Literally meaning "those who face death" (pêş front + merg death e is) the peshmerga forces of Kurdistan have been around since the advent of the Kurdish independence movement in the early 1920s, following the collapse of the Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 and Qajar empires which had jointly ruled over the area known today as Kurdistan.

The Peshmerga fought alongside the US Army and the coalition in the northern front during Operation Iraqi Freedom. During the following years, the Peshmerga played a vital role in security for Kurdistan and other parts of Iraq. Not a single coalition soldier or foreigner has been killed, wounded or kidnapped in Kurdistan since the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The Peshmerga have also been deployed in Baghdad and al-Anbar governorate for anti-terror operations.

The Kurdistan Region is allowed to have its own army under the Iraqi constitution and the central Iraqi army is not allowed to enter the Kurdistan Region by law.

The Peshmerga is believed to have been the responsible force for capturing the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in December 2003. The Sunday Herald reported that the Kurdish intelligence service lead to the direct capture of Saddam Hussein with Kurdish special forces sealing off the area of the al-Dwar farmhouse before the arrival of US troops. Some sources say that Saddam was captured by Kurdish forces, who then brokered a deal with US commanders which included political advantage in the region.

Education


Before the establishment of the Kurdistan Regional Government, primary and secondary education was almost entirely taught in Arabic. Higher education was always taught in Arabic. This however changed with the establishment of the Kurdistan autonomous region. The first international school, the International School of Choueifat
International School of Choueifat
The International School of Choueifat is a collection of international schools run by the SABIS school system in various countries of the Middle East. The first International School of Choueifat started in Choueifat, Lebanon in 1886 and later spread to various parts of the Gulf region...

 opened its branch in Iraqi Kurdistan in 2006. Other international schools have opened and British International Schools in Kurdistan is the latest with a planned opening in Suleimaniah in September 2011.

Iraqi Kurdistan’s official universities are listed below, followed by their English acronym (if commonly used), internet domain, establishment date and latest data about the number of students.
Institute Internet Domain Est. Date Students
Salahaddin University
Salahaddin University
Salahaddin University is an educational institution in in Arbil , capital of Kurdistan Region of northern Iraq. One of the oldest and largest institutions of higher learning in Kurdistan Region, Salahaddin University was established in 1968 and was originally based in Sulaimaniya. It was...

 (SU)
http://www.suh-edu.com 1968 7,048 (2007)
University of Sulaimani
University of Sulaimani
The University of Sulaimani is a public university located in the city of Sulaymaniyah in Kurdistan Region - Iraq. It is one of the important scientific and cultural centers in Kurdistan region. It was founded in 1968. The University comprises 27 colleges, the main campus is in Sulaimani city and...

 (US)
http://www.univsul.org/ 1968 (3,067) (2006)
University of Dohuk
University of Dohuk
Founded on the 31st of October 1992 with two colleges and a total of 149 students, University of Duhok includes now 13 colleges with more than 10000 undergraduate students and 500 Postgraduate students in different specializations. University of Duhok is a member of the International Association...

www.uod.ac 1992 1,689 (2007)
University of Koya
University of Koya
University of Koya is located in Koi Sanjaq, near Arbil , capital of Kurdistan Region of Iraq. It was established in 2003 The university included six colleges: Engineering, Agriculture, Science, Law, Arts, and Education....

 (KU)
www.koyauniversity.org 2003 (?) (2006)
University of Kurdistan www.ukh.ac 2006 400 (2006)
American University of Iraq - Sulaimani www.auis.org 2007 50 (2007)
Hawler Medical University
Hawler Medical University
Hawler Medical University is located in Arbil , capital of Kurdistan Region of Iraq. It was established in 2005.The university is made up of four colleges: Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy and Nursing, which formerly belonged to Salahaddin University in Arbil.- History :As the result of rapid...

 (HMU)
www.hawlermu.org 2006 (?) (2006)
Business & Management University (BMU) www.bmu-me.net 2007 (?) (2007)
SABIS University www.sabisuniversity.net 2009 (?) (2009)
Cihan University www.cihanuniversity.org ? (?)
British Royal University www.broyalu.com ? (?)
Hawler Private University for Science and Technology hpust.com ? (?)
Ishik University www.ishikuniversity.net ? (?)
Soran University
Soran University
Soran University is a university located in Soran, Erbil Governorate in Iraqi Kurdistan. It was established in 2009.-Key staff:* President: Dr. Muslih Mustafa Mam Hamad* Vice-president for Administrative and Financial affairs: Dr. Rushdy Samad Othman...

www.soranu.com 2009 2200 (2011)
Newroz University ? ? (?)
Human Development University ? ? (?)

See also

  • Iraq
    Iraq
    Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

  • Kurds in Syria
    Kurds in Syria
    Kurds are the largest ethnic minority in Syria making up 10% of the country's population. Most of them are Sunni Muslims; there are also Yazidi and Yarsan Kurds in Syria and small numbers of Christians and Alawis. They face routine discrimination and harassment by the Syrian...

  • History of the Kurdish people
  • Iranian Kurdistan
    Iranian Kurdistan
    Iranian Kurdistan is an unofficial name for the parts of Iran inhabited by Kurds and has borders with Iraq and Turkey. It includes Kurdistan Province, Kermanshah Province, Ilam Province and parts of West Azerbaijan province....

  • Turkish Kurdistan
    Turkish Kurdistan
    Turkish Kurdistan is an unofficial name for the southeastern part of Turkey, which is inhabited predominantly by ethnic Kurds. The area covers between 190,000 to 230,000 km² , or nearly a third of Turkey...

  • List of Kurdish dynasties and countries

External links