Kurds: A nation without a state
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Kurds are one of the most numerous nationalities in the world that does not have its own state. Despite the fact that their history goes back thousands of years, they have not been able to gain statehood. Currently, Kurds live in different countries, but their historical homeland – Kurdistan – is located at the intersection of the borders of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran.

A nation without a state

Approximately thirty million Kurds live in the Middle East—primarily in Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey—and the Kurds comprise nearly one-fifth of Turkey’s population of seventy-nine million.

Throughout their history, they have not been able to create their own state. The Kurds came closest to creating their own state four times:

  1. During the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century.
  2. In the 1920s, when Kurds who fled Turkey settled in the Caucasus (in Nagorno-Karabakh).
  3. In 1941-1946 in Iran and in the 1960s in Iraq.
  4. In 2012-2016 in Syrian Kurdistan – Rojava.

Currently, the Kurds continue to fight for their autonomy, especially in Turkey, where they are deprived even of their ethnonym and are officially considered part of the Turkish people.

Kurds: A nation without a state
Kurds: A nation without a state

Confrontation with Turkey

The history of the Kurds’ relations with the Turks and Turkey is a separate difficult chapter. Modern Turkey is indeed the most implacable opponent of the Kurdish autonomy. The Kurds in Turkey are deprived even of their own ethnonym and are officially considered not a separate people, but part of the Turkish — “mountain Turks”.

Since the creation of modern Turkey, the Kurdish movement has taken a position of uncompromising denial of pan-Turkism, the basis of the ideology of Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk). Ataturk himself has repeatedly proclaimed the unity of the Turkish nation against the Kurdish “renegades” and threatened the Kurdish leaders with executions. During the uprisings in Malatya in 1919 and Sheikh Saeed in 1925, the Turkish authorities brutally suppressed all attempts by the Kurds to fight for their rights and for autonomy. After the Second World War, the resistance in Turkish Kurdistan continued, and the policy aimed at suppressing it remained almost unchanged until the beginning of this century.

The Kurdistan Workers’ Party – the main organization of the Kurds, is outlawed in Turkey and is considered a terrorist organization. Since 1984, the militants of this group have conducted a number of guerrilla operations against the Turkish army and military infrastructure. The Kurds themselves do not consider these actions to be terrorist attacks, but the PKK, in addition to Turkey, has been recognized as a terrorist group by about 40 countries, as well as the UN. The Turkish authorities explain their invasion of Syria, among other things, by the fact that local Kurds allegedly help the separatists in Turkey itself.

Historical overview

The second millennium BC in the southeastern part of Asia Minor (modern Turkey and Syria) was marked by the border between the Hittite Empire and Mitanni. The population of Mitanni consisted of Hurrians (closely related to the Eastern Caucasians) and Semites, with an admixture of the ancient Indo-European (Aryan) element. After the collapse of the Hittite Empire, various parts began to exist independently, and an ethnic group was born among them, which later the Arabs called “Kurds”. Since then, northern Mesopotamia and part of southeastern Asia Minor have been called “Kurdistan”.

Geography of distribution

Today, Kurds live all over the world, but the bulk of their population still lives in Kurdistan. Some Kurds also live in Transcaucasia (Georgia and Armenia), as well as in Russia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

Kurds: A nation without a state
Kurds: A nation without a state


The majority of Kurds are Sunni Muslims, that is, they belong to the most numerous branch of world Islam. However, there are Christians among them, as well as atheists. In general, the Kurds are considered a fairly secular people, and religious fanaticism is very far from them.

The Kurds are a people with a rich history who, despite all obstacles, continue to fight for their autonomy and statehood. Their story is a story of resistance, survival and struggle for their rights. Despite the fact that the Kurds are one of the largest nations without their own state, they continue to believe and fight for their future.

We also recommend reading:

An Open-Air Jail, A Possible Alternative Path, Israel’s Withdrawal From Gaza: A First Experience, Oppression In The Middle East, The Philadelphi Corridor

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