By Satenik Harutyunyan
In 1920, the Treaty of Sevres created national boundaries carved out by European superpowers for Iraq, Syria, and Kuwait. The Kurds, however—an ethnic people with their own national identity consisting of language, culture, religious specifications and traditions—were excluded from this and other important treaties. Since then, the ethnic Kurds have faced heavy repression and harsh treatment under the governments where they form a significant ethnic minority. For the purposes of the following research, I will focus primarily on the ethnic Kurds of Iraq. For the unstable and struggling Iraqi government, I propose a solution regarding the Iraqi Kurds in order to achieve lasting and unwavering accords with the Kurds. In order to achieve this goal, I elaborate on the historical and current day circumstances of the Iraq’s largest ethnic minority as well as the current Kurdish struggle to achieve what they believe is justified autonomy. I explore the Kurdish use of insurgency, rebel organizations, and attempted secessions in order to formulate a proposition where stability can finally become a prolonged option in Iraqi-Kurdish relations. By shining light on the hypothetical situations of an independent Kurdistan and the existing suppressed Kurdistan, I display why neither of these options are viable solutions. Instead, I ultimately argue for the creation of an autonomous and separate, though not completely independent Kurdish state within Iraq, which must be granted respect by not only the Iraqi government, but the foreign powers which can and will potentially benefit from peaceful circumstances for the Iraqi Kurds.
Analytical Overview of Conflict and Tension:
Since the foundations of the Iraqi state, the Kurds have been a key minority in the country. In addition to making up 20 percent of the current Iraqi population, Kurds are also politically significant with regard to their political activism and reluctance to comply with state repression. The historical persistence of the Kurdish people to remove themselves from Iraqi state repression in the twentieth century is exactly what constitutes the root cause of the Iraqi- Kurdish conflict which continues today. The existing problem is further accentuated by the fact that numerous agreements have been reached between the ever-changing Iraqi state system and the Kurdish people, only to be broken and completely dismembered. The problem has even escalated to the extreme measure of ethnic cleansing and atrocious mass murder at the hands of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athist regime, which was in power from 1968-2003.
In addition, fundamental ethnic differences between Kurdish and Iraqi peoples can partly explain the ongoing conflict in Iraq. The Kurds, a non-Arab and non-Arabic speaking minority, have historically refused to surrender their ethnic identity to the government under which they reside. In his book titled The Kurdish Nationalist Movement, David Romano quotes the Kurdistan Workers Party, a nationalist organization, in a 1993 statement: “The Kurdish people do no longer accept to be the last colonized the most oppressed people on the Earth. Whatever the price may be, they have decided to pursue their patriotic struggle… to have a place of their own in the sun…Theirs is a desire to live better, in a free and democratic Kurdistan” (Romano 132). The most fundamental and major contributor to Iraqi state oppression of the Kurds is the ardent connection to the Kurdish identity, particularly the connection to the Indo-European Kurdish language (Pike). The primary cause of the conflict can essentially be synthesized into the fundamental differences between Kurdish interests and Iraqi state interests—the Iraqi Kurds have fought for independent recognition and equality under the law whereas the Iraqi state system has done its best to hinder and disallow any such efforts.
The current state of the problem regarding Iraqi Kurds can be clarified by understanding the historical context of the situation. Amongst the international community, no dispute exists regarding Kurdish identity due to common knowledge that the Kurds are in fact an ethnic group of their own. The Kurds are a non-Arab, mostly Sunni Muslim ethnic group who have lived throughout the Middle East for centuries. The Kurds also speak numerous different dialects of Kurdish rather than Arabic (Manafy 2). What has led to the ongoing controversy about the said ethnic group, however, is the perpetual and historical Kurdish struggle for social and political freedom. During the early 20th century, following the dissimilation of the Ottoman Empire, much of the modern day Middle East was determined by European superpowers. For example, in 1920, the Treaty of Sevres formed the modern states of Iraq, Syria and Kuwait. The treaty also included the potential implementation of a Kurdish state in the region (McDowall 464). However, the state was never implemented. These circumstances created a growing sense of nationalism within the Kurdish population. The lack of recognition by the international community and the Iraqi and Iranian governments, where large populations of Kurds resided, set the fundamental building blocks of a Kurdish society based on grievance and discontent.
Furthermore, the recent history of Iraqi Kurdistan holds tremendous social context in terms embedded and present day grievances. Most notable in the recent history of Kurdistan is the infamous Anfal campaign, directed by Ali Hasan al-Majid, a cousin of Saddam Hussein. The purpose of the campaign was essentially to eradicate Kurdish resistance by any means necessary, particularly by focusing on males between the ages of fifteen and seventy (O‘Leary). The majority of the campaign targeted Kurdish areas controlled by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which was working actively toward autonomy. As a result of the campaign, 1,200 villages were destroyed and more than 180,000 persons went missing and were presumed dead. In addition to the sheer manslaughter, the campaign created economic destitution via blockades that stopped any support from coming into Kurdish villages (O‘Leary). The killings were carried out through mass execution as well as chemical warfare. The most infamous incident of such a chemical-weapons attack occurred in March 1988 in the town of Halabja. In the immediate aftermath of the Iran- Iraq war, during which Kurds were sympathetic toward Iran, the civilian population of Halabja was attacked by Iraqi aircrafts dropping chemical gas bombs throughout the entire city. It is estimated that in the three days following the brutal attack, 12,000 Kurds perished (McDowall 343). The atrocities in Halabja are only one isolated historical incident of Iraqi state violence toward the Kurdish minority.
The effects of the Anfal campaign and its massacres surely constitute the theory of relative deprivation and justify the Kurdish grievances. Because the term relative deprivation is rather vague and difficult to contextualize, it is important to focus on the historical failure of the Iraqi government to respect Kurdish demands for autonomy or social equality, which underline the legitimacy of Kurdish discontent. With broken past agreements and memories of mass murders, the Kurds have ample reason to question the credibility of Iraqi state promises.
Looking at empirical data alone is evidence enough to support this claim. In 1970, the Iraqi government and Kurdish parties agreed to a peace accord which granted the Kurds autonomy and recognized Kurdish as an official language in Iraq. The constitution at the time was amended to state that “the Iraqi people are made up of two nationalities, the Arab nationality and the Kurdish nationality” (Iraqi Kurds: a Timeline). By the next year, however, relations between Kurdish leaders and the Iraqi government had completely deteriorated because the terms of the peace accords were not being kept up and Kurdish autonomy was not granted. As a result, in 1974, the Iraqi government drafted yet another version of the autonomy agreement, which the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) rejected under the leadership of Mustafa Barzani. Not only were the promises of the 1970 agreement not kept by the Ba’athist Iraqi government, but the new agreement determined borders of the Kurdish area which excluded the Kurd inhabited and oil-rich Kirkuk province. Under these circumstances, the Kurds were not receiving what they believed they rightfully deserved and as Ted Gurr explains in his piece called Why Men Rebel, “discontent arising from the perception of relative deprivation is the basic, instigating, condition for participants in collective violence” (Gurr 7).
Key Actors and Respective Interests
With a contextualization of the Kurdish issue, it is essential to delve into the profiles of the main actors involved and their roles in the conflict. First and foremost, the Iraqi state system naturally represents a key player in the Iraqi-Kurdish conflict. Although the Iraqi state system was unstable and regimes were perpetually changing throughout the twentieth century, the Iraqi Ba’athist regime was in power for the significant period of time, both in terms of length and in terms of activity regarding the Kurds. It was under the Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athist regime that the Kurds faced notorious forms of repression such as the Anfal campaign. One would assume that after the United States takeover of Iraq and the disintegration of the Ba’athist regime, circumstances for the Kurds would improve. The reality of the situation, however, is that the current Iraqi government continues to play a profound role in the Kurdish conflict. In that sense, the Iraqi government holds the bulk of the responsibility in terms of determining how to properly address the Kurdish issue. As a new democracy encountering numerous trials and errors, the central government in Baghdad must find innovative ways to ensure the interests of its Kurdish minority to prevent future violent outbreak within its borders.
Equally critical in the conflict between the Iraqi state and the Kurdish people is the present day Kurdistan Regional Government, the governing body responsible for the autonomous provinces in northern Iraq known as Kurdistan. In post-Saddam Hussein Iraq, with the help of third party intervention on behalf of the United States, the Kurds entered the field of Iraqi politics with substantial say for the first time in history. In this case, third party intervention was a substantial benefit to the Iraqi Kurds and their new Regional Government. According Barbara Walter “third parties can guarantee that groups will be protected, terms will be fulfilled, and promises will be kept… Once cheating becomes difficult and costly, promises to cooperate gain credibility” (340). Middle East affairs specialist Kenneth Katzman describes the following: In 2004, a provisional constitution “laid out a political transition process and preserved the Kurds’ autonomous “Kurdistan Regional Government” (KRG) and its power to alter the application of some national laws. Another TAL provision allowed the Kurds to continue to field their militia, the peshmerga (“those who face death”), now numbering 75,000-100,000” (Katzman 2). The constitution was supposed to maintain Kurdish autonomy and motivate Kurdish political participation. In fact, the Kurdish region took part in the Iraqi elections in 2005. In this case, KRG participation was directly linked to third party intervention. If the new Iraqi government hopes to have successful long term relations with the Kurds, however, it must begin depending on itself more heavily than on the third party forces inside Iraq.
Considering the help third party intervention provided the KRG in recent years, it becomes important to assess why tensions and conflict continue to exist between the central Iraqi government and the Kurds. Parties and organizations also play a key role in solving the puzzle of Iraqi-Kurdish relations. The Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) was started in the 1940’s in Iraq under the leadership of Mustafa Barzani, the preeminent symbol of Kurdish nationalism (Romano 192). The party was assembled to protect the specific interest of Kurds within Iraq. The current president of the Kurdistan region, Massoud Barzani, who is a family member of Mustafa Barzani, is also the head of the KDP. This indicates the lasting dominance of the KDP as the primary national organization in Iraqi Kurdistan. Another critical Kurdish organization is the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which has vast popular support, competes closely with the KDP, and is ideologically more extreme. The PUK was formed in the 1960’s by individuals expelled from the KDP by the party leaders (Romano 197). The PUK, very similarly to the KDP, was formed under the slogan of autonomy for Kurdistan and democracy for Iraq. Unlike the KDP, however, it also advocated Marxist principles at its core (Gunter 230). David Romano describes the foundations of the PUK as follows: “Although the founders of the PUK came from more urban, intellectual, socialist, and political politburo of the old KDP, the PUK…resembled the KDP so much that average Kurds were often unable to specify…ideological differences between the two” (Romano 197).
The two parties have long experienced substantial disagreement regarding how to handle relations with the Iraqi state. Their differences, however, center around which means and methods to implement, rather than the nature of the problem. The alliance between the PUK and the KDP, known as the Iraqi Kurdistan Front (IKF), is primarily concerned with overthrowing Saddam Hussein’s Ba’thist regime in hopes of establishing a genuinely democratic government in Iraq and developing a federal status for the Kurds (Gunter 231.)
The Conflict Today
The current state of the conflict, although not nearly as volatile as it has been in the past, is far from resolved. Control over territory and resources as well as measures of autonomy hold major significance in Kurdish-Iraqi relations. In their recent history, as mentioned before, the Kurds have adamantly pushed for control over oil-rich provinces such as Kirkuk and have been consistently denied by the central government. The current government of Iraq is no exception. Earlier in my research, I described the Transitional Law Agreement, the interim constitution put in place with the help of the United States. The 2004 document specifically forbids Kurdish say in matters of foreign policy, national security, national budgetary matters, and control of Iraq’s natural resources (Katzman and Prados 4). The Kurds, however, continue to push for control over Kirkuk and are actively showing strength in the Kirkuk province because the KDP and PUK, who settled their differences in the name of common Kurdish grievances, came together to offer a joint proposition called the “Kirkuk Brotherhood” slate in 2005. The proposition won 26 out of the 41 seats on that provincial council during the provincial election. Additionally, United States officials estimate that over 350,000 Kurds relocated to the Kirkuk province in order to strengthen the Kurdish base in the area (Katzman and Prados 6).
As long as the problem of economic autonomy and control over critical provinces remains, Kurdish-Iraqi tension will continue. As a matter of fact, mutual distrust between Iraqi state government and the Kurdish officials has created a profound security dilemma. As described earlier, history has embedded fear in both parties. The Kurdish populations as well as Kurdish party leaders naturally fear a return to the horribly repressive societies of their past. History has not been kind to the Kurd, so they are skeptical of the state systems under which they reside. On the other hand, the central government of Baghdad currently fears the repercussions that will come with the possibility a Kurdish push for independence, which I will discuss in the following section. In this way, the Iraqi government is insecure in lending too much autonomy to the KDP for fear of secessionist outcomes. Therefore, since the security gridlock exists, the conflict between Baghdad and Kurds cannot be fully resolved.
Options for managing the conflict:
Creating an independent state for the Kurdish people seems logical in theory. The Kurds have an internal governing system, reside on territory rich with natural resources upon which to build a profitable economy, and they are an ethnic minority with an extremely large population. In practice, however, partition and independence would be impossible for the Kurds in present-day circumstances. Alexander Downes argues, “Partition should provide independence for relatively homogeneous states and attempt to draw defensible borders and establish a balance of power between them. Independence eliminates the military and political uncertainties that plague solutions to ethnic war short of partition, does not require the parties to trust each other, and satisfies nationalist desires and desires for security induced by war” (Downes 248). In the case of the Kurds and the Iraqi state, however, this theory is not applicable due to a number of reasons discussed below.
The first dilemma in this alternative would be the drawing of boundaries. In 1991, the Kurds made up 23 percent, 19 percent, and 10 percent of the populations of Iraq, Turkey, and Iran, respectively (Manafy 4). Because of this, the problem of an independent Kurdistan transcends the borders of Iraq and the Kurds within the northern region discussed previously. If the independent Kurdistan is limited to the Kurds in Iraq, the question of what to do with the millions of Kurds in Turkey, Iran, and elsewhere would surely cause immediate concern and eventual chaos for the central Iraqi government. The problems for Baghdad would stem most profoundly from the Turkish central government.Turkey, which has a past and recent history of violence against the Kurds, is adamantly opposed to the notion of giving the Kurdish population an independent state. In his report to the United States Congress, Kenneth Katzman, a Middle East analyst writes that “Although Turkey has become substantially less concerned about Iraqi Kurdish autonomy over the past few years, Turkey closely watches and acts against the presence of the Turkish Kurdish opposition Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in KRG-controlled territory. The accusation is leveled particularly at the KDP, whose strongholds border Turkey” (Katzman 9). Because of this, the Turkish government would react against the Iraqi state for promoting Kurdish independence. The Iraqi government today cannot possibly risk violent or volatile relations with the neighboring Turkish state. Furthermore, the Turkish government and the United States remain on incredibly friendly terms. Shaky relations with such a close ally of the United States would also not be favorable for the Iraqi government, considering the influence the United States has had in Iraq over the last decade. This is especially relevant in the case of the Kurds because, as discussed earlier, the United States played a key third party role in forming the current conditions of Kurdish autonomy.
Additionally, Kurdish independence would ultimately fail because of the unsteady relations within the Kurdistan Regional Government. While it is true that the KDP and the PUK successfully set aside their differences in speaking unanimously for Kurdish grievances, they would undoubtedly clash without a common state aggressor to unite against. Even in their recent history without an established state, the Kurdish parties have clashed tremendously. In the 1990’s, disagreement between the two parties were so severe that in some cases there were more than 600 civilian and military casualties due to fighting (Gunter). In instances like this, each side accused the other of negotiating with external forces such as Iran, Turkey, and Iraq, thus hindering the Kurdish cause. Even though numerous peace agreements have been reached between the parties, it is important to recall that the present day KRG has only been in existence for less than a decade. This government is still very much in development and lacks the political experience or stability necessary to govern an independent state. To go from unstable partial autonomy to unstable independence would be of no benefit to the Kurdistan, or to its neighboring states.
If the central Iraqi government were to give the Kurdistan Regional Government an independent state of its own, it would bear part of the burden of being the third-party peacekeeper in the newly established state. Because both the KDP and the PUK have both allied with the central government for help against the opposing group in recent history, this would inevitably occur in the case of Kurdish independence. Under these circumstances, the Iraqi government would potentially have to side with one group against the other in civil conflict or war, starting a new cycle of conflict and rendering the Kurdish independent state essentially pointless. Whereas Kurdish independence would surely be beneficial in terms of alleviating the Kurdish grievance against an exterior state government, it would ultimately not be a good decision due to the consequences explored above.
Military Overthrow and Suppression
A full-force military operation to suppress the interests of the Kurdish minority on behalf of the central Iraqi government would be amongst the least practical or profitable policy decisions. Firstly, as I underlined earlier, the Kurdish minority comprises 23 percent of the entire Iraqi population. Recent Iraqi history, partially exemplified by the instances I previously discussed, proves that attempts to silence Kurdish grievances via military overthrow would inevitably fail because the Kurds are too numerous to ignore, would not succumb, and would surely retaliate. Additionally, the current Iraqi military already faces intense difficulty combating insurgencies and non-state organizations. Challenging an entity such as the Kurds would damage the Iraqi government far more than it would benefit it. The damage to the Iraqi military would partially be due to the fact that the current Iraqi government, as discussed earlier, allows the KRG to sustain a functioning militia, now numbering 100,000 troops, in the Kurdish region (Katzman 2). Iraqi forces going in to Kurdistan for the purposes of overthrowing the government and taking control of the region would be faced with strong opposition.
Additionally, the international community would not allow for such a large-scale overthrow. The Iraqi government already has a record of mistreating its Kurdish minority, as discussed earlier in the context of the Anfal campaign and numerous other instances of violent oppression. In March 2009, a commemoration was held at the United Nations in memory of the atrocities in Halajba in 1988. In describing the commemoration, the KRG online writes: “The commemoration, co hosted by the Iraqi mission to the UN and the Kurdistan Regional Government, saw ambassadors, member of the Iraqi government, the human rights community, and survivors…urged steps to ensure no similar genocide occurs again” (KDP.org) Adding another series of violence against the Kurds would undoubtedly draw negative attention to the Iraqi state system from the international community, which would hinder the newly established state’s credibility and assent to a respectable governmental entity in the world of international politics.
Consociational Democracy for the Iraqi state
Lijphart’s model of consociational democracy displays four characteristics: grand coalition, proportional representation, a mutual veto, and segmented autonomy (Andeweg 512). Theoretically, these specifications lead to a broad consensual democracy in which a segmented society can exist peacefully and democratically with a just representation of all groups. Although the model has been implemented in countries such as Denmark, Lebanon, and Ireland, in the case of Iraq and the Kurds, however, this is not a viable option for a number of reasons. For the purposes of this paper, however, I will focus on one principle reason why the model is not applicable: disproportional minorities. The demographic breakup of Iraq, especially as it pertains to the Kurds, is not comprised of enough ethnic minorities to allow for a functioning consociational democracy. In the case of Lebanon, for example, the religious groups represented are Maronite Christian, Armenian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Protestant, Sunni Arab, Shia Arab, Druze and Alawite (U.S. Department of State). In order to make this model work in the case of Iraqi Kurds, the Kurds would need to be separated into Sunni Kurds, Shia Kurds, and Yezidis, for the sake of creating an accurate proportional representation. Instead of simplifying the issue the Iraqi state system faces, this alternative creates more complications. As of now, Kurdistan has no serious divide among its population, besides conflicts between the political parties discussed earlier. To enforce social cleavages in Kurdistan not only goes against the principles of consociational democracy which advocates the theory in societies that are already deeply segmented, but it would be counterproductive for the Iraqi state. In the case of Iraqi Kurdistan, consiontinalism and power sharing would simply result in the difficult regulations of Kurdish relations with non Kurdish actors as well as the new need to regulate internal relations amongst the separated Kurds.
Kurdish Autonomy and Ethnic Separation
Unlike the alternatives discussed above, granting the Kurds autonomy within the Iraqi state is a viable solution. Autonomy allows the Kurdish people to govern themselves without the complications of an independent Kurdish state described previously. Kauffman states that “…lasting peace requires removal of the security dilemma. The most effective and in many cases the only way to do this is to separate the ethnic groups. The more intense the violence, the more likely it is that separation will be the only option” (Kaufmann 157). Violence and security have in fact been a common problem in the past for Iraqi Kurds, who reside mainly in the northern region of Kurdistan, making ethnic separation a viable and realistic option. Also relevant in the case of the Iraqi Kurds is Kaufmann’s argument that “there must be enough regional self-defense capability that abrogating the autonomy of any region would be more costly than any possible motive for doing so” (162). A Kurdish militia could potentially be a credible obstacle in the way of would-be aggressors, making an attack on autonomous Kurdistan too costly to go through with.
Furthermore, Kaufmann says that “local autonomy must be so complete that minority groups can protect their key interests even lacking any influence at the national level” (162). This part of Kaufmann’s description, however, does not fully exist in the current Iraqi state structure in terms of the Kurds, who only have partial political autonomy. Examples of this are control over certain regions with substantial Kurdish populations such as the Kirkuk province as well as control over natural resources. Without control over natural resources, the autonomous regional government of Kurdistan will ultimately be unable to sustain itself economically, creating tension and dissatisfaction amongst the population. Approximately 60% of Iraqi Kurdistan was unemployed in 2007 (Iraqi News Monitor).
Concluding Policy Proposal
Given the alternatives discussed above, I conclude that granting full Kurdish autonomy is the best course of action for the Iraqi state government. Because Kurdish autonomy serves as a middle ground protecting the interests of the Kurdish parties, the central government in Baghdad, as well as Iraq’s neighboring countries, it is the most viable policy for Iraqi Kurdistan today. As Kurdish autonomy increases in the 21st-century in Iraq, violent Kurdish action against the state continues to decrease. The Kurdish struggle, however, is not completely alleviated. The Iraqi state must allow autonomous Kurdistan to grow in strength on both the economic and military fronts. The Kurdish military must be substantial and sufficient enough to protect itself from forces outside of Iraq without needing to turn to the central Iraqi military for support. As explained earlier, if the Kurdish military is substantially defensive, external forces will see more cost than benefit in invading Kurdistan.
More importantly, if the Kurdistan Regional Government can support the economy to reverse unemployment and increase development, discontent against the Iraqi government would substantially decrease. In order to do this, the Iraqi government must be willing to yield the province of Kirkuk, which Kurdistan has adamantly been fighting for control over for its entire recent history. The Iraqi government must also amend its constitution to allow at least partial profit from the economic resources in Kirkuk as well the rest of autonomous Kurdistan. Doing this would give Kurdistan the ability to comply with Iraqi regulations while sustaining a relatively self-sufficient economy within its regional borders. Without a profitable economy from which the population can benefit, the Kurdish government and its people will continue to feel the historical sentiment that they are being mistreated and abused by the Iraqi state. Partial progress towards peaceful terms between the Iraqi government and Kurdistan has undoubtedly been made in recent years. The extension and completion of this progress toward full autonomy, however, is what I ultimately suggest as the final step in the journey to peaceful Iraqi-Kurdish relations.
Acknowledgements and Works Cited:
1. Romano, David. The Kurdish Nationalist Movement. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2006. Print.
2. Manafy, A. United Press of America. Lanham, MD: United Press of America, 2005. Print.
3. McDowall, David. Modern History of the Kurds. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Saint Martin’s Press, 2004. Print.
4. O’Leary, Carole. “The Kurds of Iraq: Recent History, Future Prospects.” Middle East Review of International Affairs 6.4 (2002): n. pag. Web. 4 Dec 2009.
5. Katzman, Kenneth. “The Kurds in Post Saddam Iraq.” Congress Research Service 01 Sep 2009: 1-11. Web. 4 Dec 2009.
6. Gunter, Michael. “The KDP-PUK Conflict in Northern Iraq.” Middle East Journal 50.2 (1996): 224-241. Web. 4 Dec 2009. .
7. Katzman, Kenneth, and Alred Prados. “CRS Report for Congress.”Global Security. 14 Mar 2005. Web. 4 Dec 2009. .
8. “First United Nations Commemoration of Halajba Genocide.”Kurdistan Regional Government. 18 Mar 2009. KRG, Web. 4 Dec 2009. .
9. “Lebanon.” U.S. Department of State. 08 Mar 2006. Web. 4 Dec 2009. .
10. “Who are the Kurds?” Washington Post. 1999. Washington Post Company, Web. 4 Dec 2009. .
11. Pike, John. “Kurdistan-Iraq.” Global Security. 25 Jun 2008. GlobalSecurity.ort, Web. 4 Dec 2009. .
12. “Timeline: Iraqi Kurds.” BBC News. 1 Aug 2009. British Broadcasting Company, Web. 4 Dec 2009. .
Photo of Kurdish women in Silopi, a border town of Turkey 15 kilometers away from Northern Iraq, watching the opening of the local branch of the pro-Kurdish political party in town. Courtesy of petit1ze.