Kurdistan (Greater Kurdistan) - The Kurds are historically an ancient ethnic Persian (Iranian) group of tribes who are currently geographically split mostly between modern-day Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria. Prior to the first World War, most of the vast Kurdish population lived in the province of Kurdistan in the Ottoman Empire, with some also living in Persia, but after the defeat of the Ottomans, the Allies decided to split up their empire, and created several countries within it's boundaries. Kurdistan was to be one of those individual countries, but the Allies backtracked after Kemal Atatürk - the only undefeated Ottoman commander during WWI - led the Turkish National Movement to victory in a local uprising. His forces retook much of the region in the Turkish War of Independence, and the Allies eventually agreed to the modern-day Turkish borders. A large slice of Kurdistan was within those borders, and the Allies then split the rest of Kurdistan between the new British-backed state of Iraq, and the new French-backed state of Syria, with the remainder staying in their Iranian provinces. This left the Kurds with no independent lands, and all living as minority's in their respective countries. There are some calls for an independent Greater Kurdistan, most notably from the PKK in the past, but the various groups of Kurds which are situated in various modern-day countries, mainly prefer to concentrate their efforts on gaining independence as separate Kurdish states.
The Current Kurdish Population: There are an estimated 25-35 million Kurds in the World, many of whom live in historical Kurdistan, which is spread across modern-day Turkey (12-17 million), Iraq (4-7 million), Iran (5-7 million) and Syria (2-4 million), but there are also hundreds of thousands living in Afghanistan (after centuries of persecution from various powers drove many across the border for refuge), and according to a 2001 census, about 40,000 are currently residing in Armenia. Many non-Yazidi Muslim Kurds have been ethnically cleansed from Armenia, due to their support for Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, but Yazidis are the largest minority group in the country, and fought beside the Armenians in that war. In the early 20th century, the Soviet-backed Azerbaijani government re-populated about 200,000 Kurds from Azerbaijan, to other parts of the Soviet Union, and followed a similar policy of violent no-holes barred suppression of culture, identity and language, as the Turks and Syrians (see below). The numbers of Azerbaijan-based Kurds which supported the Armenians in the ongoing Nagorno-Karabakh dispute have been greatly decimated. It is estimated that up to a further 150,000 have been deported from Azerbaijan since 1988 because of this conflict. The remaining Kurdish population in Azerbaijan is hard to gauge. The Kurdish Diaspora further includes about 1.3 million in Western Europe, and up to 200,000 in North America.
The Kurdish Question:
Kurdistan (Greater Kurdistan)
- Iranian Kurdistan (Eastern Kurdistan)
- Iraqi Kurdistan (Southern Kurdistan)
- Syrian Kurdistan (Western Kurdistan)
- Turkish Kurdistan (Northern Kurdistan)