Known together with the peoples of Syria, Iraq, Egypt, and Algeria, the Kurds constitute the greatest linguistic and ethnic minority groups in the Middle East. They speak the Pashto language -a dialect of Middle Eastern Arabic and have their own written language called the Dari language. The majority of the population is divided into three groups: the Arabs, the Assyrians, and the Chechens. There are also large minorities of Arabs and Turkmen. The largest single religious group in the community is the Muslims. The Arabs are the largest group and constitute around eighty percent of the total population. The second largest group, the Assyrians, comprise mostly of Ninevehites who are mostly of the minority population in the region. The third, the Chechens, are mostly of the Turkmen minority. A number of non-Arab ethnic groups call themselves kurdish. They are mainly of the Berbers of Morocco, the Arabs of Algeria, the Assyrians of Syria and Iraq, the Turkmen of northern Iraq, and the Chechens of the Pamir Mountains. The word kurd is derived from the kel, a name used for the mountain where the four groups above reside. The word “kurd” means “one whose mind is ruled by an iron rod.” Unlike many Middle Eastern countries, the structure of the kurdish society is made of a consultative assembly at its local level, which consists of a president, a prime minister, a ministers, and an supreme leader. All of these members have to agree on any major decisions concerning the country, and all major decisions are carried out by a consultative assembly. In addition, there are local autonomous regions, which practice a system of local governance similar to that found in Turkey. Although there are no special constitutional arrangements, the supreme leader represents the entire country, though he only presides over certain municipalities. Alliances between the different municipalities are formed betweenatible units of power. The system of decentralized authority provides the citizens with a sense of equality, as they can choose their representation without worrying about who will get their vote. The root of the modern-day state of Iraq and the former Yugoslavia, both were structured on the collapse of the socialist Bloc of states created after World War II. The remnants of these nations had to decide whether or not to stick with the failed program of left-wing politics, or pursue a more nationalistic path towards progress. For decades, the survivors of these failed states remained divided, and some groups fought among themselves for power and resources. This has caused several divisions in both peoples’ ideologies, and has hindered their development into functional, viable states. However, the upsurge of kurdish nationalism in the country has brought these once feuding communities together again, to forge ahead with a common cause and vision. In fact, Turkey’s modern history has seen a significant rise in kurdish nationalism, following the breakdown of the Soviet Union. There have been many instances where a group of villagers have banded together to form the most democratic and prosperous nation in the region. Now, with the help of a new Turkish constitution and a strong military presence, the country is once again becoming a beacon of stability in the region, and is beginning to regain its place as a key player in the region. As the rest of the Middle East begins to reevaluate its relationship with the United States, it appears that the Kurds may well be the people the region has been waiting for.
The word “Kurd” (meaning “people of the green mountain) is derived from the Turkoman language. This people have been in existence since prehistoric times, dating back to more than 5000 years. A Turkoman word, kerd, is used to describe the hill village of Marmar, in modern-day Turkey. Their religion is predominantly Islamic, though they observe some aspects of Christianity, Yezidis, and Buddhists. They live primarily in the regions of Cinar and Derikkale, although a few settled in the coastal areas of Lice, Marmar, Gokova, and Bingol. Today, the language of the kurdish peoples has been brought into disuse because of the spread of the Islam faith to the south and the west, due to political pressures. In spite of this, the kurdish languages are still spoken by the minority groups residing in the regions bordering the Islamic world. These include the Arabs, Turkish-Armenians, Circassians, and several Chechens. It is a major language in the region of the Middle East where the most significant changes have occurred, both cultural and linguistic. Even the written languages, the kurdish ones, are flourishing there. The language of the kurdish peoples is an example of the rapid expansion and development of the Arabic language. The Arabs who migrated to the Middle East centuries ago spoke the Arabic language, while the Berber speakers who settled in Iraq decades ago spoke the Kurdish language. Because of political and social pressures, both of these languages were forced to blend together, to result in the present dialect of Middle Easterners. In fact, Arabs who speak Kurdish are much rarer than Arabs who only speak Arabic, even within the borders of Iraq and Iran. One has to mention here that the development of the Kurdish language had something to do with the Arabization of the Middle East. It is not surprising that many Arabs with an Arab name and nationality tend to speak the Arab dialect, since they are more likely to have been subjected to Arab cultural norms and language. Similar is the case of the Assyrians living in northern Iraq who are widely known as Kurds. Unlike their neighbors, the Assyrians have not adopted the Arab language, though their history and culture suggest that they might have been able to do so. Similarly, the Turkoman people of Central Asia and the steppes of central Asia, speak an Indo-European language, though their vocabulary and culture reflect primarily Greek roots. Similarly, the Baluch of Afghanistan, speaking Turkish in addition to Arabic, show little sign of having adopted Arab dialects, though the area under the autonomous Turkish administration borders the Kurds. The same is true for the inhabitants of the Pamir Mountains in northern Iran, speaking mainly Arabic. The fact is that until quite recently the term ‘Armenian’ did not refer to a people speaking an Arab dialect, but to those whose ancestors were dispersed over the Middle East. In recent years it has been widely used to refer to persons whose ancestors originated in southern Turkey and who later settled in a number of Middle Eastern countries including Iraq and Iran. The recent surge in the terminology used to describe the Kurdish people, both within Turkey and in the diaspora, reflects this change. However, in spite of these efforts to co-ordinate the terminology in the two nations, the emergence of the Kurdish language has paved the way for an indigenous expression to take its rightful place as the Kurdish dialect. The rise and spread of the Kurdish language is a reflection of developments beyond the boundaries of Turkey and Iraq. It is also a consequence of the relative weakening of the Arab languages in Middle Eastern countries that have been absorbed into the mainstream vocabulary of much of North Africa and the Middle East. The language of the Kurds has spread into Arab-speaking nations like Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania, Tunisia and many others. It is now the official language of all the countries of the Middle East and is thus seen to represent a cross-cultural bond that unites Arabs and Kurds, Turkmen and Persians.
The term “Kurdish” refers to the Turkoman region of Central Asia. It consists of twenty-two autonomous provinces that form a vast area in the foothills of the Caspian Sea. A large proportion of the population lives in the areas of Sinjar and Shengal in northern Syria, in close proximity to Mount Kerman and Ermenegol. The remaining population lives in the diverse areas of the four provinces of autonomous regions in northern Iraq. Although there is little political unity among the various groups in the region, there are many areas where there is widespread ethnic Arab feeling and a strong sense of belonging to an all-together and tolerant nation. There is no precise demographic or political definition for the term “Kurd”, but the main areas where its members live include Syria, Iraq, Iran, and the areas of northern Iraq and the Middle East to a far. Kurds are an ethnic group indigenous to the rugged mountainous region of northern Syria, which once formed an autonomous area in the face of the Turkish Empire. Under the Ottoman Empire, the region was known as Roza (meaning “the red”). During the first World War, the Turkish military took control of Roza and the rest of the region, including parts of modern day Syria, and the Hashemite Gulf coast region. Syria and Iraq were always ruled by two different governments, so the population had to adapt to a variety of political systems. During the periods of Syria’s history that were recognized as modernity, such as the 20th century, the regime was divided into areas ruled by the Rashid dynasty, the Alawites, and the Baath Party. In addition, there were periods of Baathist rule, such as during the years of the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein. When the Americans went to fight the Saddam war, they found an unexpected lack of support from the locals who felt they had lost everything while the US soldiers did just fine. The US soldiers left a lasting impression on the locals, and their victory boosted their morale, giving them the strength and confidence to fight against their former enemies, and launch a revolution against the Baathist government, toppling it and instituting a democratic system of government. After the fall of Saddam, the new regime included various minorities in its ranks, such as the Arabs of Basra, the Christians of Samarra, and the Turkmen, who comprise a large percentage of the population. Today, there are three largest ethnic groups in the country: Arabs, the Sorbs, and the Assyrians. Most of the Arabs live in and around the oil rich Deir Ezzor and Tartous regions while the Sorbs live in the northern part of the country near the Syrian border. The Assyrians, also known as Hillays, are located in the regions of Qalat and Hassakeh. These three groups are different from each other in culture, language, beliefs, and traditions, but they are all bound together by their desire to be recognized as a nation. The resistance of the kurds in Syria against the brutal attacks of the Baathist regime forced the United States and other international powers to assist the rebels on many occasions. In fact, the United States and the United Kingdom (along with France and Russia) were actively supporting the so-called “rebels” in Syria in 2021 when it became clear that the Assad Regime was losing control of the areas of northern Syria controlled by the opposition. When Russia began its air campaign in support of the Assad Regime in Syria, the United States and its allies immediately began supplying non-lethal weapons to the rebels, including how to use light weapons. This included both small arms and more powerful surface-to-air missiles. The resistance succeeded in defeating the regime completely at the start of the 4th of July celebrations. The rise of the Islamic State (IS) and its takeover of large portions of northern Iraq and neighboring Syria has changed the dynamics of the Middle East and polarized the region. Iran and its close allies are supporting the Assad Regime, while the United States and its regional partners, led by Saudi Arabia, are providing military and financial aid to the rebels fighting the IS. The Russians have recently provided the rebels with advanced weapons systems and intelligence. As the struggle continues, the parties to this conflict will pursue their own agendas, increasing regional tension and inevitably resulting in greater conflicts within the Middle East. The parties to this fight are also looking for new friends to help defeat the IS, but how will the parties in the future interpret the emerging international consensus on how to defeat the IS?