Kurds in the Middle East


Kyle Garneau

The Kurds, a group of Sunni Muslims numbering close to 28 million located throughout northern Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Iran, and Armenia have long fought for an autonomous state, but have faced years of oppression from the countries aforementioned. A group of Kurds in northern Iraq, however, known as the Kurdistan Regional Government, rules the area autonomously with a security force called the Peshmerga, who have been a huge help in defending Kurdistan and aiding the U.S. against ISIS. This is far from a fully independent Kurdistan.

Another group of Kurds, called the Popular Protection Units (YPG) has also been fighting the Islamic State in Syria. They’re the group that is seen fighting ISIS, along with the Turkish forces along the border of Turkey and Syria. Turkey views the Kurds, specifically the YPG as a terrorist organization who has been stirring unrest in the region for decades. THe YPG is backed by the United States, but in order to reduce tensions, Turkey claims to be solely fighting ISIS in the region, which is not the case.

The future for a truly independent Kurdish state is uncertain, but what is certain is they are a key figure in the fight against ISIS, taking a large portion of the fight and their years of repression and being pushed aside seem to be ending.