Sunday, September 11, 2016

More on Kurdish History

At one time I thought the history of the Caucasus was complicated. Then I encountered the history of northern Ghana. Now, I am trying to sort out the recent history of Kurdistan. It is not as ethnically complex as the Caucasus let alone Ghana. But, it is politically much more complex. The fact that the territory is divided across four major states is a major contributing factor to this complexity. This has tied support for various Kurdish factions by outside powers to the political alliances of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria. To just give one example the KDP (Kurdish Democratic Party) in Iraq has since the 1940s been variously supported by the USSR, US, Iran, and Israel. It has also had its assistance from all those states completely cut off at various times. In the mid-1940s the Soviets saw support of the Kurds as a way to further their interests in Iran. During the 1960s and early 1970s the US, Iran, and Israel saw support of the Kurds as a way to weaken Iraq. In the 1980s Syria saw support of the Kurds as a way to counter pressure from Turkey. The shifting support of various Kurdish factions during the Cold War is difficult enough to follow. After the collapse of the USSR and the removal of the Baath Party from power in Iraq the situation become much more fragmented. The current war in Syria has further greatly complicated matters. So at this point since I am a 20th century historian I am going to try and figure out the basic narrative from 1914 to 1991.

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