(Kurdish: Kurd, کورد) also the Kurdish people (Kurdish: Gelê Kurd, گەلی کورد) are an ethnic group in the Middle East, mostly inhabiting a contiguous area spanning adjacent parts of eastern and southeastern Turkey (Northern Kurdistan), western Iran (Eastern or Iranian Kurdistan), northern Iraq (Southern or Iraqi Kurdistan), and northern Syria (Western Kurdistan or Rojava).The Kurds are culturally and linguistically closely related to the Iranian peoplesand, as a result, are often themselves classified as an Iranian people.
The Kurds are estimated to number, worldwide, around 30–32 million, possibly as many as 37 million,[better source needed]with the majority living in West Asia; however, there are significant Kurdish diaspora communities in the cities of western Turkey, in particular Istanbul. A recent Kurdish diaspora has also developed in Western countries, primarily in Germany. The Kurds are the majority population in the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, and are a significant minority group in the neighboring countries Turkey and Iran, where Kurdish nationalist movements continue to pursue greater autonomy and cultural rights.
The Kurds of Iraq came under British colonial rule after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in 1918. Frustrated in their hopes for independence, Kurdish leaders launched a series of rebellions against British and subsequent Iraqi rule.
These were put down ruthlessly, most notoriously in the late 1980s when Saddam Hussein attacked the Kurds with massed armed forces in the ‘Anfal’ campaign.
This involved the deliberate targeting of civilians with chemical weapons, most notoriously in the town of Halabja in 1988.
Various Iraqi governments promised autonomy to the Kurds after the 1958 revolution, but none came to fruition until the anti-Saddam international coalition established a partial no-fly zone in northern Iraq in 1991 after the first Gulf War.
This allowed Kurdish leaders and their Peshmerga armed forces to consolidate their hold on the north after Iraqi forces withdrew, and provided the basis for the 2005 constitutional settlement.
The immediate tasks facing the Kurdish government were great, and included rebuilding infrastructure, creating an administration and absorbing hundreds of thousands of displaced people after years of war and destruction.
Overall its efforts exceeded all expectations. Iraqi Kurdistan largely escaped the privations of the last years of Saddam’s rule and the chaos that followed his ouster in 2003, and built a parliamentary democracy with a growing economy.
Major problems remain, nonetheless. The landlocked Kurdistan Region is surrounded by countries unsympathetic to Kurdish aspirations, like Turkey and Iran, and by states approaching internal collapse – Syria and the rest of Iraq.
It is also in dispute with the Iraqi government over several territories, in particular the historic city of Kirkuk. No agreement has been reached over Kirkuk, but in the summer of 2014, when the city was in danger of falling to the hard-line Sunni Islamists of ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant), Kurdish Peshmerga forces pre-empted this by seizing Kirkuk themselves.
Tension between the main political parties – the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the Kurdistan Democratic Party – erupted into a civil war that almost destroyed the autonomous government in 1994-97, and some differences remain.
Officially called the Kurdistan Region (Central Kurdish: ههرێمی کوردستان, translit. Herêmî Kurdistan, Arabic: إقليم كردستان, translit. Iqlīm Kurdistān) by the Iraqi constitution, is located in the north of Iraq and constitutes the country’s only autonomous region. It is frequently referred to as Southern Kurdistan (Central Kurdish: باشووری کوردستان; Northern Kurdish: Başûrê Kurdistanê), as Kurds generally consider it to be one of the four parts of Kurdistan, which also includes parts of southeastern Turkey (Northern Kurdistan), northern Syria (Rojava or Western Kurdistan), and northwestern Iran (Eastern Kurdistan).
The region is officially governed by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), with the capital being Erbil. Kurdistan is a parliamentary democracy with its own regional Parliament that consists of 111 seats. Masoud Barzani, who was initially elected as president in 2005, was re-elected in 2009. In August 2013 the parliament extended his presidency for another two years. His presidency concluded on 19 August 2015 after the political parties failed to reach an agreement over extending his presidency term. The new Constitution of Iraq defines the Kurdistan Region as a federal entity of Iraq, and establishes Kurdish and Arabic as Iraq’s joint official languages. The four governorates of Duhok, Hawler, Silemani, and Halabja comprise around 41,710 square kilometres (16,100 sq mi) and have a population of 5.5 million (2015) (2015 estimate). In 2014, during the 2014 Iraq Crisis, Iraqi Kurdistan’s forces also took over much of the disputed territories of Northern Iraq.
The establishment of the Kurdistan Region dates back to the March 1970 autonomy agreement between the Kurdish opposition and the Iraqi government after years of heavy fighting. However, that agreement failed to be implemented and by 1974 Northern Iraq plunged into the Second Iraqi–Kurdish War, another part of the Iraqi-Kurdish conflict between the Kurds and the Arab-dominated government of Iraq. Further, the 1980–88 Iran–Iraq War, especially the Iraqi Army‘s Al-Anfal Campaign, devastated the population and environment of Iraqi Kurdistan. Following the 1991 uprising of Kurds in the north and Shias in the south against Saddam Hussein, Iraqi Kurdistan’s military forces, the Peshmerga, succeeded in pushing out the main Iraqi forces from the north. Despite significant casualties and the crisis of Kurdish refugees in bordering regions of Iran and Turkey, the Peshmerga success and establishment of the northern no-fly zone following the First Gulf War in 1991 created the basis for Kurdish self-rule and facilitated the return of refugees. As Kurds continued to fight government troops, Iraqi forces finally left Kurdistan in October 1991, leaving the region with de facto autonomy. In 1992, the major political parties in the region, the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, established the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government. The 2003 invasion of Iraq and the subsequent political changes led to the ratification of the new constitution in 2005.
source : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraqi_Kurdistan