At 35 million, the Kurds are the world’s largest ethnic group without a country.
If you look on a map, Kurdistan is technically in Iraq.
Kurdistan is an autonomous region with their own government, its own borders, its own flag, and its own language.
It’s a mountainous region that’s bigger than Germany, straddling the borders of four countries: Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran.
While 93 % of Kurds voted for freedom in a 2017 referendum, external pressures from those neighbors and abroad have kept the region entangled with Iraq.
The history of the Kurds dates back to the beginning of recorded civilization. The Erbil Citadel, being continuously inhabited for over 6,000 years, is about as diverse as a place can get.
Today, every religion, both big or small, has its own representative in the Kurdistan government.
Over the centuries, the Kurds have suffered from multiple wars, terrorism, and civil unrest – especially since 1988.
The Saddam regime and then Isis made life very difficult for everyone.
As of 2020, the Kurds are gaining an increasing amount of freedom and prosperity in Iraq – though internal corruption remains an issue.
Under Barack Obama, the Kurds were virtually abandoned to fight ISIS – a terrorist organization created out of the instability of the Iraq War and the ensuing sudden exit. Despite Donald Trump’s praise of the Kurdish people, they were once again left abandoned as Iraq sent troops to force the Kurds out of the disputed territory. Trump infamously asked if the Kurds had helped America during D-day.
Longstanding leader Masoud Barzani has finally given up control of the region, leaving his son Nechirvan Barzani to be elected into office by the Kurdistan Region Parliament in June 2019.
With a Public Service degree from Washington and Jefferson College in Pennsylvania, the English fluent Nechirvan represents a sharp difference from his father, a famed fighter and traditionalist.
With a new face at the helm, Kurdistan’s next few years will be of high interest to many around the globe.