March 25, 2008
Population: 4 million
Capital City: Erbil
Area: 520,000 km²
Ethnic Groups: Kurds, Assyrians, Armenians and Iraqi Turkoman
UNPO REPRESENTATION: Kurdistan Democratic Party & Patriotic Union of Kurdistan
Iraqi Kurdistan is represented in UNPO by the two main political parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).
Kurdistan refers to a territory of 520,000 km², spread over different countries in the Middle East (Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria).In Iraq, the Kurds live in the north, in an autonomous area of 36,000 km². The capital is Erbil.
The total population of the Kurds is 30 million people. In Iraq, there are 4 million Kurds, who run their own administration. In addition to the Kurds, Assyrians, Armenians and Iraqi Turkmen live in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Kurdistan is rich in mineral resources (coal, uranium, chrome, copper, iron), oil an is a watershed of the surrounding regions.
1920 After the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, the Kurds were promised their own state, but this never materialised. As a result, the southern part of Kurdistan was incorporated into Iraq.
1980’s Iraqi President Saddam Hussein began a systematic relocation and genocide against the Kurdish population. This campaign led to the disappearance of over 180,000 Kurds.
1991 After being defeated by the allied forces in the Gulf War, the Iraqi armed forces withdrew from most areas of Iraqi Kurdistan. The UN created a safe-haven in the Kurdistan area in order to protect the Kurdish civilian population. Iraqi Kurdistan became a member of UNPO.
1992 The elections for a parliament were held and a coalition parliament was formed dominated by the two largest party, the PUK and the KDP.
1994 Fighting broke out between the PUK and the KDP. The elected representatives of the Iraqi Kurds, the parliament and the regional government lost their power to the party militias.
1996 Renewed fighting between the two parties led to fleeing of thousands of people towards the Iranian border, in an effort to escape the KDP and the Iraqi military. Plundering of houses, executions and arrests of the PUK members and activists of the Iraqi opposition took place in Kurdistan.
A new round of peace talks in Ankara between the PUK and the KDP resulted in a statement on the case-fire with a view to make it permanent.The UN and the Iraqi administration reached an agreement on the export of oil, of which the earnings are to be used for the purchase of humanitarian supplies for the people in northern Iraq.
Kurdistan was for centuries the scene of disputes by the big powers. In 1245 the Mongolians conquered the territory and 250 years later the Ottomans followed. After the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire in 1920, the Kurds were promised their own state (Treaty of Sévres, 1920) but in the end the victory powers of World War I changed their minds and only founded two Arab states, Syria and Iraq.
In the early 1980s, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein began a systematic relocation and genocide of the Kurdish population. This so-called "Anfal" campaign led to the disappearance of over 180.000 Kurds. After being defeated by the allied forces in the Gulf War, the Iraqi forces withdrew from most areas of Iraqi Kurdistan in October 1991.
In order to protect the Kurdish civilian population and to provide humanitarian assistance, the United Nations created a save-haven in the Kurdish area north of the 36th parallel. It also facilitated the formation of independent political structures.