Kurdistan is an area of rich history, placed in the north-east part of legendary Mesopotamia – home of civilizations like Sumerian, Assyrian and Babylonian. Some historians say that Kurds were the first people who domesticated animals and sowed cultivated plants. Archeological discoveries make it able to date origins of agriculture to the period about seven thousands years BC. There are also some finds which prove that inhabitants of Shanidar in Kurdistan domesticated fruits and were cultivating wheat in even 9800 years BC.
Kurdistan is a region full of priceless archeological discoveries like “Qalat” a citadel in Erbil, the famous cave Shanidar where Neanderthals for the first time in history were decorating tombs of the deceased, Assyrian and Zoroastrian archeological positions in Dohuk or Delal bridge in Zakho from the Roman Empire.
The first mention in historical sources about Kurds comes from Sumerian writings dated at 3000 years BC. They refer about “Land of Kard”. The most ancient acts of Kurds indicate that they preserved their own independence from surrounding empires and they stayed under the authority of local tribal leaders.The reason for rare conflicts with neighbours was probably due to the inaccessibility of mountain areas inhabited by them, at the same time they were becoming known as being good warriors.Over the next ages kurdish lands were under the domination of: Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Parthians, Persians, Romans and Armenians.
In the seventh century Arabs conquested the whole area of the Middle East and all its inhabitants, the Kurds also accepted islam. Kurdish lands became the boundary zone between islamic caliphate and the christian Byzantine Empire. Arabs used kurdish armies in order to protect the northern boundaries of their state.
In the next ages the Kurds survived the great invasion of Turkish people from Central Asia to Less Asia. Which again was most likely due to the result of an inaccessible location impeding the attack.
Kurds in Ottoman Empire
Increasing in strength in the period from XIII to XV century the Ottoman Empire embraced by its scope area of current Iraqi-Iranian borderland. Since then to the First World War the region inhabited by Kurds takes approximately three fourth of Turkish people, a quarter to Persians. Under both governments Kurds were had a considerable range of autonomy. Kurdish rulers who decided to form alliance with the sultan were vassals of the Ottoman Empire and they exercised autonomic authority on their areas.
Turkish and Persian rulers were appointing Kurds to the army and as a result Kurds were sometimes forced to fight against Kurds in an opposition army. Areas of kurdish settlement in current Turkmenistan are the heritage of military colonies where kurdish soldiers were protecting persian borders.
Autonomy which was enjoyed by Kurds living in both empires caused significant development of native literature, fine arts and the forming of kurdish intellectual elite. Flush of national awareness in arab world in XIX century embraced also Kurds and found expression in some rebellions against Ottoman Empire, induced by local tribal leaders. However these rebellions were suppressed and caused limitation of kurdish autonomy by Turks, whose formerly powerful state in XIX were in political upheaval.
After the collapse of Ottoman Empire with the end of First World War, Kurds received first promise of construction their own state, according to provisions of Sevres Agreement contracted in 1920. However after overthrow the sultanate in Turkey and victorious war with Greece Sevres Agreement was replaced by Lausanne Treaty in 1923 in which all notations about creation of independent Kurdistan were cancelled. It meant for Kurds beginning of over half century struggles for a right to self-determination and violent crimes, which were made in order to frustrate these struggles.
In 1919, 1923, 1932 kurdish leaders conducted unsuccessful uprisings against Iraqi government supported by Britons. Armed rebellions was also in 1925, 1930 and 1936 in Turkey and in 1946 in Iran, where from January to February existed Mahabad Republic, which was led by president Muhammad Qazi, executed later by iranian authorities. For Kurds the main character of long struggle for rights was Mullah Mustafa Barzani, who after escape from forced exile in 1943, was a leader of society without its state.
Current population of Kurds in Middle East according to cautious estimation is over 30 millions.
They inhabit areas of Turkey, Iran, Syria, Azerbaijan and Iraq, where they in Kurdistan Region enjoy the most advanced autonomy.
Contemporary history of Kurdistan Region in Iraq
In march 1970 signed agreement with central government of Iraq about establishing autonomic Kurdistan. However after series of attacks on kurdish leaders made by Baas party agents, agreement was terminated quickly, Iraqi government sharpened repression to local population.
During the war with Iran Iraqi army devastated kurdish nature, infrastructure, confiscated land and made a lot of crimes on local population. The most terrible of Iraqi crimes was Anfal Operation, what effect was destruction of 4,5 thousand villages and murder or disappearance without trace 180 thousands men, women and children. In over 250 cases against civil population used chemical and biological weapon. The biggest and the most violent case was attack on Halabja village in march 1988. This extremely meaningful place of tragedy of Kurds was completely devastated until 1991.
After the end of war in Persian Gulf, Kurds encouraged by declarations of George H.W. Bush raised rebellion against Saddam Husain .Retaliation of Iraqi army and mass exodus of civil population towards borders with Turkey and Iraq forced Safety Council of United Nation Organizations to establish flight ban zone for Iraqi aircraft, stretching out above 36. parallel. Action of international society made population to come back to its homes. In 1992 was parliamentary elections, first not only in history of Kurdistan but also in whole Iraq, which began way towards self-management and autonomy which currently exists.
Liberation of Iraq in 2003 as a result of international coalition and kurdish forces and political consequences of this liberation caused resolution of new iraqi constitution in 2005. According to its notations Kurdistan Region is a federal unit accepted by central government in Iraq and United Nation Organization.
[source: Kurdistan Regional Government. Department of Foreign Relations: http://dfr.krg.org/p/p.aspx?p=65&l=12&s=030400&r=365]