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Iraqi Kurdistan, officially called the Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Region of Iraq (Kurdish: هه‌رێمی کوردستان‎) by the Iraqi constitution,[6][7] is an autonomous region located in northern Iraq.[8] It is frequently referred to as Southern Kurdistan
Kurdistan
(Kurdish: باشووری کوردستان, Başûrê Kurdistanê‎), as Kurds generally consider it to be one of the four parts of Greater Kurdistan, which also includes parts of southeastern Turkey
Turkey
(Northern Kurdistan), northern Syria
Syria
( Rojava
Rojava
or Western Kurdistan), and northwestern Iran
Iran
(Eastern Kurdistan).[9] The region is officially governed by the Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Regional Government (KRG), with the capital being Erbil. Kurdistan
Kurdistan
is a parliamentary democracy with its own regional Parliament that consists of 111 seats.[10] 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 term. The new Constitution of Iraq
Iraq
defines the Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Region as a federal entity of Iraq, and establishes Kurdish and Arabic
Arabic
as Iraq's joint official languages. The four governorates of Duhok, Hawler, Silemani, and Halabja
Halabja
comprise around 46,861 square kilometres (18,093 sq mi) and have a population of 5.8 million (2017 estimate).[3] In 2014, during the 2014 Iraq
Iraq
Crisis, Iraqi Kurdistan's forces also took over much of the disputed territories of Northern Iraq; the total area under the control of the Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Regional Government contains some 8 million inhabitants. The establishment of the Kurdistan
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
Iraq
plunged into the Second Iraqi–Kurdish War, another part of the Iraqi-Kurdish conflict between the Kurds
Kurds
and the Arab-dominated government of Iraq. Further, the 1980–88 Iran– Iraq
Iraq
War, especially the Iraqi Army's Al-Anfal Campaign, devastated the population and environment of Iraqi Kurdistan. Following the 1991 uprising of Kurds
Kurds
in the north and Shia Arabs
Arabs
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
Kurdish refugees
in bordering regions of Iran
Iran
and Turkey, the Peshmerga
Peshmerga
success and the Western establishment of the northern Iraqi no-fly zone
Iraqi no-fly zone
following the First Gulf War
First Gulf War
in 1991 created the basis for Kurdish self-rule and facilitated the return of refugees. As Kurds
Kurds
continued to fight government troops, Iraqi forces finally left Kurdistan
Kurdistan
in October 1991, leaving the region with de facto autonomy. In 1992, the major political parties in the region, the Kurdistan Democratic Party
Kurdistan Democratic Party
and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, established the semi-autonomous Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Regional Government. The 2003 invasion of Iraq
Iraq
and subsequent political changes led to the ratification of a new constitution in 2005.

Contents

1 Etymology 2 Geography

2.1 Ecology 2.2 Climate

3 History

3.1 Pre-Islamic period 3.2 Islamic period 3.3 Kurdish revolts under British control 3.4 Barzani Revolt (1960–1970) 3.5 Autonomy negotiations (1970–1974) 3.6 Second Kurdish Iraqi War Algiers Agreement 3.7 Arabization
Arabization
campaign and PUK insurgency 3.8 Iran– Iraq
Iraq
War and Anfal Campaign 3.9 Autonomous period

3.9.1 After the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
War 3.9.2 During and after US-led invasion 3.9.3 Following US withdrawal

4 Politics

4.1 Government 4.2 Elections 4.3 Foreign relations 4.4 Military

5 Human rights 6 Economy

6.1 Petroleum and mineral resources

7 Infrastructure and transport

7.1 Infrastructure 7.2 Mobility

8 Administrative divisions

8.1 Disputed areas 8.2 Cities

9 Demographics

9.1 Languages 9.2 Religion 9.3 Immigration 9.4 Refugees

10 Culture

10.1 Music 10.2 Sport

11 Education 12 References 13 External links

Etymology

Erbil, capital of Iraqi Kurdistan

The name Kurdistan
Kurdistan
literally means "Land of the Kurds". The suffix -stan
-stan
is Iranian for "place of" or "country". In English translations of the Constitution of Iraq, it is called "Kurdistan", four times in the phrase "region of Kurdistan" and once in the phrase "Kurdistan region".[11][12] The regional government calls it the "Kurdistan Region".[7] The full name of the government is the " Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Regional Government", abbreviated "KRG". Kurds
Kurds
also refer to the region as Başûrê Kurdistanê or Başûrî Kurdistan
Kurdistan
("Southern Kurdistan"), referring to its geographical location within the whole of Kurdistan. During the Baath Party
Baath Party
administration in the 1970s and 1980s, the region was called the "Kurdish Autonomous Region".[13] Geography See also: Geography of Kurdistan

Lake Dukan

Greater Zab River
Greater Zab River
near Erbil

A canyon near the northern city of Rawandiz

The Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Region is largely mountainous, with the highest point being a 3,611 m (11,847 ft) point known locally as Cheekha Dar
Cheekha Dar
("black tent"). Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurdistan
include the Zagros, Sinjar Mountains, Hamrin Mountains, Mount Nisir and Qandil mountains. There are many rivers running through the region, which is distinguished by its fertile lands, plentiful water, and picturesque nature. The Great Zab and the Little Zab
Little Zab
flow from the east to the west in the region. The Tigris
Tigris
river enters Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurdistan
from Turkish Kurdistan. The mountainous nature of Iraqi Kurdistan, the difference of temperatures in its various parts, and its wealth of waters make it a land of agriculture and tourism. The largest lake in the region is Lake Dukan. There are also several smaller lakes, such as Darbandikhan Lake and Duhok
Duhok
Lake. The western and southern parts of the Kurdistan Region are not as mountainous as the east. Instead, it is rolling hills and plains vegetated by sclerophyll scrubland. Ecology Vegetation in the region includes, firs, oaks, conifers, platanus, willow, olive trees, poplar, hawthorn, oriental plane, cherry plum, rose hips, pistachio trees, rosaceae, pear, mountain ash and Turkish pines. The desert in the south is mostly steppe and would feature xeric plants such as palm trees, tamarix, date palm, fraxinus, poa, white wormwood and chenopodiaceae.[14][15] Animals found in the region include the Syrian brown bear, wild boar, gray wolf, golden jackal, Indian crested porcupine, red fox, goitered gazelle, Eurasian otter, striped hyena, Persian fallow deer, onager, mangar and the Euphrates softshell turtle.[16] Bird species include, the see-see partridge, Menetries's warbler, western jackdaw, hooded crow, European nightjar, rufous-tailed scrub robin, masked shrike and the pale rockfinch.[17][18] Climate

Shanidar Cave, surrounded by Mediterranean vegetation.

Due to its latitude and altitude, Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurdistan
is cooler and much wetter than the rest of Iraq. Most areas in the region fall within the Mediterranean climate
Mediterranean climate
zone (Csa), with areas to the southwest being semi-arid (BSh). Due to the summers being less extreme, thousands of tourists from the hotter parts of Iraq
Iraq
come to visit the region in that season.[19] Despite its reputation for having "mild" summers, they are still very hot for non-Iraqi standards though, with average temperatures ranging from 35 °C (95 °F) in the cooler northernmost areas to blistering 40 °C (104 °F) in the southwest, with lows around 21 °C (70 °F) to 24 °C (75 °F). Winters, however, are dramatically cooler than other areas in Iraq, with highs averaging between 9 °C (48 °F) and 11 °C (52 °F) and with lows hovering around 3 °C (37 °F) in some areas and freezing in others, dipping to −2 °C (28 °F) and 0 °C (32 °F) on average. Elevated places such as mountain tops would be colder. Among other cities in the climate table below, Soran, Shaqlawa
Shaqlawa
and Halabja
Halabja
also experience lows which average below 0 °C (32 °F) in winter. Duhok
Duhok
has the hottest summers in the region with highs averaging around 42 °C (108 °F). Annual rainfall contrasts in the region, with some places seeing rainfall as low as 500 millimetres (20 in) in Erbil
Erbil
to as high as 900 millimetres (35 in) in places like Amadiya. Most of the rain falls in winter and spring, and it's usually heavy. Summer and early autumn are virtually dry. Spring is fairly tepid. Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurdistan
sees snowfall occasionally in the winter, and frost is very common. There is a seasonal lag in some places in summer, with temperatures peaking around August and September.

Climate data for Erbil

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year

Record high °C (°F) 20 (68) 27 (81) 30 (86) 34 (93) 42 (108) 44 (111) 48 (118) 49 (120) 45 (113) 39 (102) 31 (88) 24 (75) 49 (120)

Average high °C (°F) 12.4 (54.3) 14.2 (57.6) 18.1 (64.6) 24.0 (75.2) 31.5 (88.7) 38.1 (100.6) 42.0 (107.6) 41.9 (107.4) 37.9 (100.2) 30.7 (87.3) 21.2 (70.2) 14.4 (57.9) 27.2 (80.97)

Daily mean °C (°F) 7.4 (45.3) 8.9 (48) 12.4 (54.3) 17.5 (63.5) 24.1 (75.4) 29.7 (85.5) 33.4 (92.1) 33.1 (91.6) 29.0 (84.2) 22.6 (72.7) 15.0 (59) 9.1 (48.4) 20.18 (68.33)

Average low °C (°F) 2.4 (36.3) 3.6 (38.5) 6.7 (44.1) 11.1 (52) 16.7 (62.1) 21.4 (70.5) 24.9 (76.8) 24.4 (75.9) 20.1 (68.2) 14.5 (58.1) 8.9 (48) 3.9 (39) 13.22 (55.79)

Record low °C (°F) −4 (25) −6 (21) −1 (30) 3 (37) 6 (43) 10 (50) 13 (55) 17 (63) 11 (52) 4 (39) −2 (28) −2 (28) −6 (21)

Average rainfall mm (inches) 111 (4.37) 97 (3.82) 89 (3.5) 69 (2.72) 26 (1.02) 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0) 12 (0.47) 56 (2.2) 80 (3.15) 540 (21.25)

Average rainy days 9 9 10 9 4 1 0 0 1 3 6 10 62

Average snowy days 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1

Average relative humidity (%) 74.5 70 65 58.5 41.5 28.5 25 27.5 30.5 43.5 60.5 75.5 50.04

Source #1: Climate-Data.org,[20] My Forecast for records, humidity, snow and precipitation days[21]

Source #2: What's the Weather Like.org,[22] Erbilia[23]

Climate data for Barzan

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year

Average high °C (°F) 9.0 (48.2) 10.5 (50.9) 14.7 (58.5) 20.6 (69.1) 27.8 (82) 34.5 (94.1) 38.7 (101.7) 38.8 (101.8) 34.8 (94.6) 27.4 (81.3) 17.9 (64.2) 10.9 (51.6) 23.8 (74.83)

Daily mean °C (°F) 4.3 (39.7) 5.5 (41.9) 9.4 (48.9) 14.8 (58.6) 21.1 (70) 26.9 (80.4) 30.9 (87.6) 30.8 (87.4) 26.6 (79.9) 20.0 (68) 12.3 (54.1) 6.3 (43.3) 17.41 (63.32)

Average low °C (°F) −0.3 (31.5) −0.6 (30.9) 4.2 (39.6) 9.0 (48.2) 14.4 (57.9) 19.4 (66.9) 23.2 (73.8) 22.8 (73) 18.4 (65.1) 12.7 (54.9) 6.7 (44.1) 1.7 (35.1) 10.97 (51.75)

Average rainfall mm (inches) 151 (5.94) 172 (6.77) 150 (5.91) 114 (4.49) 37 (1.46) 1 (0.04) 0 (0) 0 (0) 1 (0.04) 19 (0.75) 88 (3.46) 106 (4.17) 839 (33.03)

Source: Climate-Data[24]

Climate data for Batifa

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year

Average high °C (°F) 7.7 (45.9) 9.4 (48.9) 13.7 (56.7) 19.1 (66.4) 26.3 (79.3) 33.3 (91.9) 37.7 (99.9) 37.5 (99.5) 33.2 (91.8) 25.3 (77.5) 16.8 (62.2) 9.8 (49.6) 22.48 (72.47)

Average low °C (°F) −0.6 (30.9) 0.3 (32.5) 3.7 (38.7) 8.1 (46.6) 13.2 (55.8) 18.2 (64.8) 22.2 (72) 21.7 (71.1) 17.6 (63.7) 11.8 (53.2) 6.2 (43.2) 1.5 (34.7) 10.33 (50.6)

Average precipitation mm (inches) 124 (4.88) 144 (5.67) 132 (5.2) 107 (4.21) 51 (2.01) 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0) 1 (0.04) 29 (1.14) 84 (3.31) 123 (4.84) 795 (31.3)

Source: Climate-Data[25]

Climate data for Amadiya

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year

Average high °C (°F) 6.2 (43.2) 7.8 (46) 12.1 (53.8) 17.8 (64) 25.1 (77.2) 31.9 (89.4) 36.3 (97.3) 36.2 (97.2) 32.2 (90) 24.4 (75.9) 15.4 (59.7) 8.4 (47.1) 21.15 (70.07)

Average low °C (°F) −2.4 (27.7) −1.3 (29.7) 2.4 (36.3) 7.2 (45) 12.5 (54.5) 17.4 (63.3) 21.4 (70.5) 20.9 (69.6) 16.8 (62.2) 10.9 (51.6) 5.0 (41) 0.0 (32) 9.23 (48.62)

Average precipitation mm (inches) 126 (4.96) 176 (6.93) 156 (6.14) 128 (5.04) 56 (2.2) 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0) 1 (0.04) 32 (1.26) 96 (3.78) 126 (4.96) 897 (35.31)

Average precipitation days 7 6 10 8 4 0 0 0 1 7 7 10 60

Source #1: World Weather Online (precipitation days)[26]

Source #2: Climate-Data (temperatures and rainfall amount)[27]

Coordinates: 36°55′N 44°2′E / 36.917°N 44.033°E / 36.917; 44.033 History See also: History of the Kurdish people Pre-Islamic period

The Neolithic
Neolithic
village of Jarmo

In prehistoric times, the region was home to a Neanderthal
Neanderthal
culture such as has been found at the Shanidar Cave. The region was host to the Jarmo
Jarmo
culture circa 7000 BC. The earliest neolithic site in Kurdistan
Kurdistan
is at Tell Hassuna, the centre of the Hassuna
Hassuna
culture, circa 6000 BC. The region was inhabited by the northern branch of the Gutian/ Hurrians
Hurrians
around 2400 BC. It was ruled by the Akkadian Empire
Akkadian Empire
from 2334 BC until 2154 BC. Assyrian kings are attested from the 23rd century BC according to the Assyrian King List, and Assyrian city-states such as Ashur and Ekallatum started appearing in the region from the mid-21st century BC. Prior to the rule of king Ushpia circa 2030 BC, the city of Ashur appears to have been a regional administrative center of the Akkadian
Akkadian
Empire, implicated by Nuzi tablets,[28] subject to their fellow Akkadian
Akkadian
Sargon and his successors.[29] Large cities were built by the Assyrians, including Ashur, Nineveh, Guzana, Arrapkha, Imgur-Enlil
Imgur-Enlil
(Balawat), Shubat-Enlil
Shubat-Enlil
and Kalhu (Calah / Nimrud). One of the major Assyrian cities in the area, Erbil
Erbil
(Arba-Ilu), was noted for its distinctive cult of Ishtar,[30] and the city was called "the Lady of Ishtar" by its Assyrian inhabitants.[31] The Assyrians ruled the region from the 21st century BC. The region was known as Assyria, and was the center of various Assyrian empires (particularly during the periods 1813-1754 BC, 1385–1076 BC and the Neo Assyrian Empire
Neo Assyrian Empire
of 911-608 BC. Between 612 and 605 BC, the Assyrian empire fell and it passed to the neo-Babylonians and later became part of the Athura
Athura
Satrap
Satrap
within the Achaemenian Empire
Achaemenian Empire
from 539 to 332 BC, where it was known as Athura, the Achaemenid name for Assyria.[32][33] The region fell to Alexander The Great
Alexander The Great
in 332 BC and was thereafter ruled by the Greek Seleucid
Seleucid
Empire until the mid 2nd century BC (and was renamed Syria, a Greek corruption of Assyria), when it fell to Mithridates I of Parthia. The Assyrian semi-independent kingdom of Adiabene
Adiabene
was centred in Erbil
Erbil
in the first Christian
Christian
centuries.[34][35][36][37] Later, the region was incorporated by the Romans as the Roman Assyria
Assyria
province but shortly retaken by the Sassanids
Sassanids
who established the Satrap
Satrap
of Assuristan (Sassanid Assyria) in it until the Arab
Arab
Islamic conquest. The region became a center of the Assyrian Church of the East
Assyrian Church of the East
and a flourishing Syriac literary tradition during Sassanid rule.[38][39][40] Islamic period

Ottoman vilayets of Van and Mossoul, 1899. Modern Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurdistan
is covered by the Mosul
Mosul
vilayet (green), which is divided into the sanjaks of Mossoul (Mosul), Kerkouk ( Kirkuk
Kirkuk
and Erbil), and Souleimanié (Sulaymaniyah). To the east is Persia and south is the vilayet of Bagdad.

The region was conquered by Arab
Arab
Muslims
Muslims
in the mid 7th century AD as the invading forces conquered the Sassanian Empire, while Assyria
Assyria
was dissolved as a geo-political entity (although Assyrians remain in the area to this day), and the area made part of the Muslim Arab
Arab
Rashidun, Umayyad, and later the Abbasid Caliphates, before becoming part of various Iranian, Turkic, and Mongol
Mongol
emirates. Following the disintegration of the Ak Koyunlu, all of its territories including what is modern-day Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurdistan
passed to the Iranian Safavids
Safavids
in the earliest 16th century. Between the 16th and 17th century the area nowadays known as Iraqi Kurdistan, (formerly ruled by three principalities of Baban, Badinan, and Soran) was continuously passed back and forth between archrivals the Safavids
Safavids
and the Ottomans, until the Ottomans managed to decisively seize power in the region starting from the mid 17th century through the Ottoman–Safavid War (1623–39)
Ottoman–Safavid War (1623–39)
and the resulting Treaty of Zuhab.[41] In the early 18th century it briefly passed to the Iranian Afsharids
Afsharids
led by Nader Shah. Following Nader's death in 1747, Ottoman suzerainty was reimposed, and in 1831, direct Ottoman rule was established which lasted until World War I, when the Ottomans were defeated by the British.

Kurdish Independent Kingdoms and Autonomous Principalities circa 1835

Kurdish revolts under British control

Mahmud Barzanji, leader of a series of Kurdish uprisings against the British Mandate of Iraq

During World War I, the British and French divided Western Asia
Western Asia
in the Sykes-Picot Agreement. The Treaty of Sèvres
Treaty of Sèvres
(which did not enter into force), and the Treaty of Lausanne
Treaty of Lausanne
which superseded it, led to the advent of modern Western Asia
Western Asia
and the modern Republic of Turkey. The League of Nations
League of Nations
granted France mandates over Syria
Syria
and Lebanon and granted the United Kingdom mandates over Palestine (which then consisted of two autonomous regions: Mandatory Palestine
Mandatory Palestine
and Transjordan) and what was to become Iraq. Parts of the Ottoman Empire on the Arabian Peninsula
Arabian Peninsula
were eventually taken over by Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

Kingdom of Kurdistan
Kurdistan
in 1923

On December 1, 1918, during a meeting in Sulaymaniyah
Sulaymaniyah
with Colonel Arnold Wilson, the Acting Civil Commissioner for Mesopotamia, Kurdish leaders called for British support for a united and independent Kurdistan
Kurdistan
under British protection.[citation needed] Between 1919 and 1922, Shaikh Mahmud Barzanji, an influential Kurdish leader based in Sulaymaniyah, formed a Kurdish government and led two revolts against the British rule. It took the British authorities until 1924 to put down his uprisings. The first revolt began on May 22, 1919 with the arrest of British officials in Sulaymaniyah
Sulaymaniyah
and it quickly spread to Mosul
Mosul
and Erbil. The British employed aerial bombardments, artillery, and ground attacks by Anglo-Indian
Anglo-Indian
troops and Assyrian Levies, to quell the uprising.[42][unreliable source?] With the collapse of the Kurdish forces, the British exiled Mahmud Barzanji to India. In July 1920, 62 tribal leaders of the region called for the independence of Kurdistan
Kurdistan
under a British mandate. The objection of the British to Kurdish self-rule sprang from the fear that success of an independent Kurdish area would tempt the two Arab areas of Baghdad
Baghdad
and Basra
Basra
to follow suit, hence endangering the direct British control over all Mesopotamia.[citation needed] In 1922, Britain restored Shaikh Mahmud to power, hoping that he would organize the Kurds
Kurds
to act as a buffer against the Turks, who had territorial claims over Mosul
Mosul
and Kirkuk. However, defiant to the British, in 1922 Shaikh Mahmoud declared a Kurdish Kingdom with himself as king. It took two years for the British to bring Kurdish areas into submission, while Shaikh Mahmud found refuge in an unknown location. In 1930, following the announcement of the admission of Iraq
Iraq
to the League of Nations, Shaikh Mahmoud started a third uprising which was suppressed with British air and ground forces.[43][44] By 1927, the Barzani clan had become vocal supporters of Kurdish rights in Iraq. In 1929, the Barzani demanded the formation of a Kurdish province in northern Iraq. Emboldened by these demands, in 1931 Kurdish notables petitioned the League of Nations
League of Nations
to set up an independent Kurdish government. In late 1931, Ahmed Barzani
Ahmed Barzani
initiated a Kurdish rebellion against Iraq, and though defeated within several months, the movement gained a major importance in the Kurdish struggle later on, creating the ground for such a notable Kurdish rebel as Mustafa Barzani. During World War II, the power vacuum in Iraq
Iraq
was exploited by the Kurdish tribes and under the leadership of Mustafa Barzani
Mustafa Barzani
a rebellion broke out in the north, effectively gaining control of Kurdish areas until 1945, when Iraqis
Iraqis
could once again subdue the Kurds
Kurds
with British support. Under pressure from the Iraqi government and the British, the most influential leader of the clan, Mustafa Barzani
Mustafa Barzani
was forced into exile in Iran
Iran
in 1945. Later he moved to the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
after the collapse of the Republic of Mahabad
Republic of Mahabad
in 1946.[45][46] Barzani Revolt (1960–1970) Main article: First Iraqi–Kurdish War

The Barzani revolt, June 1932

After the military coup by Abdul Karim Qasim in 1958, Mustafa Barzani was invited by Qasim to return from exile, where he was greeted with a hero's welcome. As part of the deal arranged between Qasim and Barzani, Qasim had promised to give the Kurds
Kurds
regional autonomy in return for Barzani's support for his policies. Meanwhile, during 1959–1960, Barzani became the head of the Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Democratic Party (KDP), which was granted legal status in 1960. By early 1960, it became apparent that Qasim would not follow through with his promise of regional autonomy. As a result, the KDP began to agitate for regional autonomy. In the face of growing Kurdish dissent, as well as Barzani's personal power, Qasim began to incite the Barzanis historical enemies, the Baradost and Zebari tribes, which led to intertribal warfare throughout 1960 and early 1961.

Mustafa Barzani
Mustafa Barzani
with Abd al-Karim Qasim

By February 1961, Barzani had successfully defeated the pro-government forces and consolidated his position as leader of the Kurds. At this point, Barzani ordered his forces to occupy and expel government officials from all Kurdish territory. This was not received well in Baghdad, and as a result, Qasim began to prepare for a military offensive against the north to return government control of the region. Meanwhile, in June 1961, the KDP issued a detailed ultimatum to Qasim outlining Kurdish grievances and demanded rectification. Qasim ignored the Kurdish demands and continued his planning for war. It was not until September 10, when an Iraqi army column was ambushed by a group of Kurds, that the Kurdish revolt truly began. In response to the attack, Qasim lashed out and ordered the Iraqi Air Force
Iraqi Air Force
to indiscriminately bomb Kurdish villages, which ultimately served to rally the entire Kurdish population to Barzani's standard. Due to Qasim's profound distrust of the Iraqi Army, which he purposely failed to adequately arm (in fact, Qasim implemented a policy of ammunition rationing), Qasim's government was not able to subdue the insurrection. This stalemate irritated powerful factions within the military and is said to be one of the main reasons behind the Ba'athist coup against Qasim in February 1963. In November 1963, after considerable infighting amongst the civilian and military wings of the Ba'athists, they were ousted by Abdul Salam Arif
Abdul Salam Arif
in a coup. Then, after another failed offensive, Arif declared a ceasefire in February 1964 which provoked a split among Kurdish urban radicals on one hand and Peshmerga
Peshmerga
(Freedom fighters) forces led by Barzani on the other. Barzani agreed to the ceasefire and fired the radicals from the party. Following the unexpected death of Arif, whereupon he was replaced by his brother, Abdul Rahman Arif, the Iraqi government launched a last-ditch effort to defeat the Kurds. This campaign failed in May 1966, when Barzani forces thoroughly defeated the Iraqi Army
Iraqi Army
at the Battle of Mount Handrin, near Rawandiz. At this battle, it was said that the Kurds
Kurds
slaughtered an entire brigade.[47][48] Recognizing the futility of continuing this campaign, Rahamn Arif announced a 12-point peace program in June 1966, which was not implemented due to the overthrow of Rahman Arif in a 1968 coup by the Baath Party. The Ba'ath government started a campaign to end the Kurdish insurrection, which stalled in 1969. This can be partly attributed to the internal power struggle in Baghdad
Baghdad
and also tensions with Iran. Moreover, the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
pressured the Iraqis
Iraqis
to come to terms with Barzani. A peace plan was announced in March 1970 and provided for broader Kurdish autonomy. The plan also gave Kurds
Kurds
representation in government bodies, to be implemented in four years.[49] Despite this, the Iraqi government embarked on an Arabization
Arabization
program in the oil rich regions of Kirkuk
Kirkuk
and Khanaqin
Khanaqin
in the same period.[50] In the following years, Baghdad
Baghdad
government overcame its internal divisions and concluded a treaty of friendship with the Soviet Union in April 1972 and ended its isolation within the Arab
Arab
world. On the other hand, Kurds
Kurds
remained dependent on the Iranian military support and could do little to strengthen their forces. Autonomy negotiations (1970–1974) Regional autonomy had originally been established in 1970 with the creation of the Kurdish Autonomous Region following the agreement of an Autonomy Accord between the government of Iraq
Iraq
and leaders of the Iraqi Kurdish community. A Legislative Assembly was established and Erbil
Erbil
became the capital of the new entity which lay in Northern Iraq, encompassing the Kurdish authorities of Erbil, Dahuk and Sulaymaniyah. The one-party rule which had dominated Iraq
Iraq
however meant that the new assembly was an overall component of Baghdad's central government; the Kurdish authority was installed by Baghdad
Baghdad
and no multi-party system had been inaugurated in Iraqi Kurdistan, and as such the local population enjoyed no particular democratic freedom denied to the rest of the country. Second Kurdish Iraqi War Algiers Agreement Main article: Second Iraqi–Kurdish War

Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Autonomous Region in 1975

In 1973, the US made a secret agreement with the Shah of Iran
Iran
to begin covertly funding Kurdish rebels against Bagdad through the Central Intelligence Agency and in collaboration with Mossad, both of which would be active in the country through the launch of the Iraqi invasion and into the present.[51] By 1974, the Iraqi government retaliated with a new offensive against the Kurds
Kurds
and pushed them close to the border with Iran. Iraq
Iraq
informed Tehran
Tehran
that it was willing to satisfy other Iranian demands in return for an end to its aid to the Kurds. With mediation by Algerian President
President
Houari Boumediene, Iran
Iran
and Iraq
Iraq
reached a comprehensive settlement in March 1975 known as the Algiers Pact.[52] The agreement left the Kurds helpless and Tehran
Tehran
cut supplies to the Kurdish movement. Barzani went to Iran
Iran
with many of his supporters. Others surrendered en masse and the rebellion ended after a few days. As a result, Iraqi government extended its control over the northern region after 15 years and in order to secure its influence, started an Arabization
Arabization
program by moving Arabs
Arabs
to the vicinity of oil fields in Kurdistan, particularly those around Kirkuk.[53] The repressive measures carried out by the government against the Kurds
Kurds
after the Algiers agreement led to renewed clashes between the Iraqi Army
Iraqi Army
and Kurdish guerrillas in 1977. In 1978 and 1979, 600 Kurdish villages were burned down and around 200,000 Kurds
Kurds
were deported to the other parts of the country.[54] Arabization
Arabization
campaign and PUK insurgency Main articles: PUK insurgency and Ba'athist Arabization
Arabization
campaigns in North Iraq The Ba'athist government of Iraq
Iraq
forcibly displaced and culturally Arabized minorities (Kurds, Yezidis, Assyrians, Shabaks, Armenians, Turkmen, Mandeans), in line with settler colonialist policies, from the 1960s to the early 2000s, in order to shift the demographics of North Iraq
Iraq
towards Arab
Arab
domination. The Baath party under Saddam Hussein engaged in active expulsion of minorities from the mid-1970s onwards.[55] In 1978 and 1979, 600 Kurdish villages were burned down and around 200,000 Kurds
Kurds
were deported to the other parts of the country.[56] The campaigns took place during the Iraqi–Kurdish conflict, being largely motivated by the Kurdish- Arab
Arab
ethnic and political conflict. Arab
Arab
settlement programs reached their peak during the late 1970s, in line with depopulation efforts of the Ba'athist regime. The Baathist policies motivating those events are sometimes referred to as "internal colonialism",[57] described by Dr. Francis Kofi Abiew as a "Colonial 'Arabization'" program, including large-scale Kurdish deportations and forced Arab
Arab
settlement in the region.[58] Iran– Iraq
Iraq
War and Anfal Campaign See also: Kurdish rebellion of 1983

Graves of the Halabja
Halabja
chemical attack victims

During the Iran– Iraq
Iraq
War, the Iraqi government again implemented anti-Kurdish policies and a de facto civil war broke out. Iraq
Iraq
was widely condemned by the international community, but was never seriously punished for oppressive measures, including the use of chemical weapons against the Kurds,[59] which resulted in thousands of deaths. The Al-Anfal Campaign
Al-Anfal Campaign
constituted a systematic genocide of the Kurdish people
Kurdish people
in Iraq. The first wave of the plan was carried out in 1982 when 8,000 Barzanis were arrested and their remains were returned to Kurdistan
Kurdistan
in 2008. The second and more extensive and widespread wave began from March 29, 1987 until April 23, 1989, when the Iraqi army under the command of Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein
& Ali Hassan al-Majid
Ali Hassan al-Majid
carried out a genocidal campaign against the Kurds, characterized by the following human rights violations: The widespread use of chemical weapons, the wholesale destruction of some 2,000 villages, and slaughter of around 50,000 rural Kurds, by the most conservative estimates. The large Kurdish town of Qala Dizeh
Qala Dizeh
(population 70,000) was completely destroyed by the Iraqi army. The campaign also included Arabization
Arabization
of Kirkuk, a program to drive Kurds
Kurds
and other ethnic groups out of the oil-rich city and replace them with Arab
Arab
settlers from central and southern Iraq.[60] Autonomous period After the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
War Even though autonomy had been agreed in 1970, local population enjoyed no particular democratic freedom denied to the rest of the country. Things began to change after the 1991 uprising against Saddam Hussein at the end of the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
War. United Nations
United Nations
Security Council Resolution 688 gave birth to a safe haven following international concern for the safety of Kurdish refugees. The US and British government established a No Fly Zone over a large part of northern Iraq
Iraq
(see Operation Provide Comfort),[61] however, it left out Sulaymaniyah, Kirkuk
Kirkuk
and other important Kurdish populated regions. Bloody clashes between Iraqi forces and Kurdish troops continued and, after an uneasy and shaky balance of power was reached, the Iraqi government fully withdrew its military and other personnel from the region in October 1991 allowing Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurdistan
to function de facto independently. The region was to be ruled by the two principal Kurdish parties; the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan
Kurdistan
(PUK). The region also has its own flag and national anthem. At the same time, Iraq
Iraq
imposed an economic blockade over the region, reducing its oil and food supplies.[62] Elections
Elections
held in June 1992 produced an inconclusive outcome, with the assembly divided almost equally between the two main parties and their allies. During this period, the Kurds
Kurds
were subjected to a double embargo: one imposed by the United Nations
United Nations
on Iraq
Iraq
and one imposed by Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein
on their region. The severe economic hardships caused by the embargoes fueled tensions between the two dominant political parties, the KDP and the PUK, over control of trade routes and resources.[63] Relations between the PUK and the KDP started to become dangerously strained from September 1993 after rounds of amalgamations occurred between parties.[64] This led to internecine and intra-Kurdish conflict and warfare between 1994 and 1996. After 1996, 13% of the Iraqi oil sales were allocated for Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurdistan
and this led to a relative prosperity in the region.[65] Saddam had established an oil smuggling route through territory controlled by the KDP, with the active involvement of senior Barzani family members. The taxation of this trade at the crossing point between Saddam’s territory and Kurdish controlled territory and then into Turkey, along with associated service revenue, meant that whoever controlled Dohuk and Zakho
Zakho
had the potential to earn several million dollars a week.[66] Direct United States
United States
mediation led the two parties to a formal ceasefire in what was termed the Washington Agreement in September 1998. It is also argued that the Oil-for-Food Programme
Oil-for-Food Programme
from 1997 onward had an important effect on cessation of hostilities.[67]

Kurdish Federation in 1998

During and after US-led invasion Iraqi Kurds
Kurds
played an important role in the Iraq
Iraq
War. Kurdish parties joined forces against the Iraqi government during the war in Spring 2003. Kurdish military forces, known as Peshmerga, played an important role in the overthrow of the Iraqi government;[68] however, Kurds
Kurds
have been reluctant to send troops into Baghdad
Baghdad
since then, preferring not to be dragged into the sectarian struggle that so dominates much of Iraq.[69] The Iraqi Kurds
Kurds
may be seen in two ways. The first and the most common way is to view the Kurds
Kurds
as victims, both of the central government in Iraq
Iraq
and of neighbouring powers – particularly Turkey. The second opposing position is to see them as an agent provocateur, acting as proxy forces for states opposed to the incumbent Iraqi regime.[70] This polarised notion of their status may be too simplistic,[original research?] when one considers that there are opposing agendas within Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurdistan
with regard to issues such as the relationship with Turkey, nationalist aspirations and relations globally.[71] A new constitution of Iraq
Iraq
was established in 2005, defining Iraq
Iraq
as a federalist state consisting of Regions and Governorates. It recognized both the Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Region and all laws passed by the KRG since 1992. There is provision for Governorates to create, join or leave Regions. However, as of late 2015, no new Regions have been formed, and the KRG remains the only regional government within Iraq. PUK leader Jalal Talabani
Jalal Talabani
was elected President
President
of the new Iraqi administration, while KDP leader Masoud Barzani
Masoud Barzani
became President
President
of the Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Regional Government. Since the downfall of the regime of Saddam Hussein, the relations between the KRG and Turkey
Turkey
have been in flux. Tensions marked a high stage in late February 2008 when Turkey
Turkey
unilaterally took military action against the PKK which at times uses the northern Iraq
Iraq
region as a base for militant activities against Turkey. The incursion, which lasted eight days, could have drawn the armed forces of Kurdistan
Kurdistan
into a broader regional war. However, relations have been improved since then, and Turkey
Turkey
now has the largest share of foreign investment in Kurdistan. Following US withdrawal Further information: Disputed territories of Northern Iraq
Iraq
and Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurdistan
independence referendum, 2017

Disputed areas in Iraq
Iraq
prior to the 2014 Northern Iraq
Iraq
offensive   Disputed and part of the Kurdish Regional Government
Kurdish Regional Government
since 1991.   Disputed and under the control of central government.

Tensions between Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurdistan
and the central Iraqi government mounted through 2011–2012 on the issues of power sharing, oil production and territorial control. In April 2012, the president of Iraq's semi-autonomous northern Kurdish region demanded that officials agree to their demands or face the prospect of secession from Baghdad by September 2012.[72] In September 2012, the Iraqi government ordered the KRG to transfer its powers over the Peshmerga
Peshmerga
to the central government. Relations became further strained by the formation of a new command center ( Tigris
Tigris
Operation Command) for Iraqi forces to operate in a disputed area over which both Baghdad
Baghdad
and the Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Regional Government claim jurisdiction.[73] On 16 November 2012 a military clash between the Iraqi forces and the Peshmerga
Peshmerga
resulted in one person killed.[73] CNN reported that two people were killed (one of them an Iraqi soldier) and ten wounded in clashes at the Tuz Khurmato town.[74] As of 2014, Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurdistan
is in dispute with the Federal Iraqi government on the issues of territorial control, export of oil and budget distribution and is functioning largely outside Baghdad's control. With the escalation of the Iraqi crisis and fears of Iraq's collapse, Kurds
Kurds
have increasingly debated the issue of independence. During the 2014 Northern Iraq
Iraq
offensive, Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurdistan
seized the city of Kirkuk
Kirkuk
and the surrounding area, as well as most of the disputed territories in Northern Iraq. On 1 July 2014, Masoud Barzani announced that "Iraq's Kurds
Kurds
will hold an independence referendum within months."[75] After previously opposing the independence for Iraqi Kurdistan, Turkey
Turkey
later gave signs that it could recognize an independent Kurdish state.[75][76] On 11 July 2014, KRG forces seized control of the Bai Hassan and Kirkuk
Kirkuk
oilfields, prompting a condemnation from Baghdad
Baghdad
and a threat of "dire consequences" if the oilfields were not relinquished back to Iraq's control.[77]

Pro-independence rally in Erbil
Erbil
in September 2017

In September, Kurdish leaders decided to postpone the referendum so as to focus on the fight against ISIL.[78] In November, Ed Royce, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the United States
United States
House of Representatives, introduced legislation to arm the Kurds
Kurds
directly, rather than continue working through the local governments.[79] In August 2014, the US began a campaign of airstrikes in Iraq, in part to protect Kurdish areas such as Erbil
Erbil
from the militants.[80] In February 2016, Kurdish president Barzani stated once again that "Now the time is ripe for the people of Kurdistan
Kurdistan
to decide their future through a referendum", supporting an independence referendum and citing similar referenda in Scotland, Catalonia and Quebec.[81] On March 23, Barzani officially declared that Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurdistan
will hold the referendum some time "before October" of that year.[82] On April 2, 2017, the two governing parties released a joint statement announcing they would form a joint committee to prepare for a referendum to be held on 25 September.[83] Politics

Iraqi Kurdistan

This article is part of a series on the politics and government of Iraqi Kurdistan

National symbols

Anthem Flag

Referendums

Independence poll, 2005 Independence poll, 2017 Kirkuk
Kirkuk
status (planned)

Government

Presidency Council President

Massoud Barzani

Prime Minister

Nechirvan Barzani

Parliament

Speaker Members

Recent elections

Presidential: 1992 2009

Parliamentary: 2009 2013

General: 2018

Political parties

Democratic Party (KDP) Patriotic Union (PUK) Movement for Change
Movement for Change
(Gorran) Islamic Union (KIU)

Administrative divisions

Silemani (Sulaymaniyah) Dohuk Hawler (Arbil) Disputed

Nineveh Kirkuk Diyala

Foreign relations

Diplomatic missions

of Iraqi Kurdistan to Iraqi Kurdistan

Kurdish-Iraqi conflict Kurdish nationalism

Other countries Atlas

v t e

Government Main article: Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Regional Government Since 1992, the Kurdistan Regional Government
Kurdistan Regional Government
has been based in Erbil. The KRG has a parliament, elected by popular vote, called the Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Parliament, and a cabinet composed of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan
(PUK) and their allies in the Iraqi Communist Party, the Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Socialist Democratic Party and others. Structurally and officially, the two parties exhibit few differences from each other. Both of their international organizations are similar and both have a similar structure of authority. Nechirvan Idris Barzani, Masoud’s nephew, was prime minister of the KRG from 1999 to 2009, including presiding over the first KDP-PUK unified cabinet from 2006 to 2009.

Masoud Barzani President
President
since 2005 Nechervan Barzani PM since 2012

Masrour, Masoud’s son, is now in the Political Bureau. Nechirvan, as Prime Minister, spearheaded unprecedented social and economic reforms, including attention to violence against women, improvements in infrastructure, and a focus on the private sector and foreign investment. He has also been at the forefront of the rapprochement with Turkey
Turkey
and the active development of oil and gas fields in the Region. According to Bruinessen, the traditional structure of Kurdish social and political organization was inherently tribal, with a tribe being a socio-political unit with distinct territorial limits and membership based on kinship. Tribal power is widespread in Erbil
Erbil
and Dahuk. And one must recognize the cultural differences between Erbil and Sulaymaniyah
Sulaymaniyah
to understand the political nature of the region.[84] After the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Kurdish politicians were represented in the Iraqi Governing Council. On January 30, 2005 three elections were held in the region: 1) for Transitional National Assembly of Iraq 2) for Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurdistan
National Assembly and 3) for provincial councils.[85] The Law of Administration for the State of Iraq
Iraq
for the Transitional Period recognized the autonomy of the Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Regional Government during the interim between "full sovereignty" and the adoption of a permanent constitution. The Kurdistan Regional Government
Kurdistan Regional Government
has constitutionally recognised authority over the provinces of Erbil, Dahuk, and Sulaymaniyah. The issues and challenges of the socio-political system have been described as "Kurdistan’s Politicized Society Confronts a Sultanistic System" in an August 2015 paper by the Carnegie Middle East Center:[86]

The Kurdistan
Kurdistan
region of Iraq
Iraq
enjoys more stability, economic development, and political pluralism than the rest of the country. And public opinion under the Kurdistan Regional Government
Kurdistan Regional Government
demands rule-of-law-based governance. But power is concentrated in the hands of the ruling parties and families, who perpetuate a nondemocratic, sultanistic system. These dynamics could foster instability in Kurdistan
Kurdistan
and its neighborhood, but could also provide a rare window of opportunity for democratization.

Elections See also: Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurdistan
parliamentary election, 2009 and Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurdistan
parliamentary election, 2013 Elections
Elections
for the Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Parliament, called the Kurdistan
Kurdistan
National Assembly until 2009, are held every four years. The latest elections for the parliament of Kurdistan
Kurdistan
were held on 21 September 2013. The leading political alliance was the Kurdistani List
Kurdistani List
which consisted of the two main political parties, PUK, which held 18 seats and the PDK, which held 32 seats. The newer and less popular competing movement, the Gorran List ("Gorran" means "change" in Kurdish) headed by Nawshirwan Mustafa
Nawshirwan Mustafa
won 24 seats, a quarter of all parliamentary seats. The Gorran List had a strong showing in the city of Sulaymaniyah
Sulaymaniyah
and the Sulaymaniyah
Sulaymaniyah
governorate, which was previously considered PUK's stronghold. In the presidential election, Masoud Barzani
Masoud Barzani
was appointed President and won another term in 2009 by gaining 70% of votes. Dr. Kamal Miraudeli came second with approximately 30% of votes. In August 2015, this presidency has ended without an agreement between the political parties to extend his term. The subject of presidency in Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurdistan
and the legitimacy of extension beyond two terms is a volatile subject and the cause of the current public anger. Elections
Elections
for the governorate councils are held every four years, the last one being held in 2014. Each council consists of 41 members. Foreign relations See also: Foreign relations of Iraqi Kurdistan Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurdistan
houses numerous consulates, embassy offices, trade offices and honorary consulates of countries that want to increase their influence and have better ties with the Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Regional Government.[87] As of October 2010, there were 20 diplomatic representations in the Region, including Turkey.[citation needed] The representative of the Kurdistan Regional Government
Kurdistan Regional Government
to the United States is the youngest son of former Iraqi president Jalal Talabani, Qubad Talabani. The KRG's high representative to the United Kingdom is Bayan Sami Abdul-Rahman, daughter of Sami Abdul-Rahman who was killed in a terrorist attack on 1 February 2004.[88] According to the World Food Programme, in the span of one week in August 2013, 37,000 Syrians fled to Iraq, 15,000 of them arriving at the Kawrgosk camp in Kurdish Northern Iraq.[89] Military

Peshmerga
Peshmerga
with his modified M16

Main article: Peshmerga Peshmerga
Peshmerga
is the term used by Kurds
Kurds
to refer to armed Kurdish fighters; they have been labelled by some as freedom fighters. Literally meaning "those who face death" (pêş 'front' + merg 'death' + e 'is') the peshmerga forces of Kurdistan
Kurdistan
have been around since the advent of the Kurdish independence movement in the early 1920s, following the collapse of the Ottoman empire which had jointly ruled over the area known today as Kurdistan. The Peshmerga
Peshmerga
fought alongside the US Army and the coalition in the northern front during Operation Iraqi Freedom. During the following years, the Peshmerga
Peshmerga
played a vital role in security for Kurdistan
Kurdistan
and other parts of Iraq. Not a single coalition soldier or foreigner has been killed, wounded or kidnapped in Kurdistan
Kurdistan
since the invasion of Iraq
Iraq
in 2003.[citation needed] The Peshmerga
Peshmerga
have also been deployed in Baghdad
Baghdad
and al-Anbar governorate for anti-terror operations. Human rights Main article: Human rights
Human rights
in Kurdistan In 2010 Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch
reported that journalists in Kurdistan
Kurdistan
who criticize the regional government have faced substantial violence, threats, and lawsuits, and some have fled the country.[90] Some journalists faced trial and threats of imprisonment for their reports about corruption in the region.[90] In 2009 Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch
found that some health providers in Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurdistan
had been involved in both performing and promoting misinformation about the practice of female genital mutilation. Girls and women receive conflicting and inaccurate messages from media campaigns and medical personnel on its consequences.[91] The Kurdistan parliament in 2008 passed a draft law outlawing the practice, but the ministerial decree necessary to implement it, expected in February 2009, was cancelled.[92] As reported to the Centre for Islamic Pluralism by the non-governmental organization, called as Stop FGM in Kurdistan, the Kurdistan Regional Government
Kurdistan Regional Government
in northern Iraq, on 25 November, officially admitted the wide prevalence in the territory of female genital mutilation (FGM). Recognition by the KRG of the frequency of this custom among Kurds
Kurds
came during a conference program commemorating the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.[93] On 27 November 2010, the Kurdish government officially admitted to violence against women in Kurdistan
Kurdistan
and began taking serious measures.[94] 21 June 2011 The Family Violence Bill was approved by the Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Parliament, it includes several provisions criminalizing the practice.[95] A 2011 Kurdish law criminalized FGM practice in Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurdistan
and law was accepted four years later.[96][97][98] The studies have shown that there is a trend of general decline of FGM.[99] British lawmaker Robert Halfon
Robert Halfon
sees Kurdistan
Kurdistan
as a more progressive Muslim region than the other Muslim countries in the Middle East.[100] The region has populations of Assyrian Christians, Yazidi, Yarsan, Mandean
Mandean
and Shabak faiths. Although the Kurdish regional parliament has officially recognized ethnic minorities such as Assyrians, Turkmen, Arabs, Armenians, Mandeans, Shabaks and Yezidis, there have been accusations of Kurdish discrimination against those groups. The Assyrians have reported Kurdish officials' reluctance in rebuilding Assyrian villages in their region while constructing more settlements for the Kurds
Kurds
affected during the Anfal campaign.[101] After his visit to the region, the Dutch politician Joël Voordewind
Joël Voordewind
noted that the positions reserved for minorities in the Kurdish parliament were appointed by Kurds
Kurds
as the Assyrians for example had no possibility to nominate their own candidates.[102] The Kurdish regional government has also been accused of trying to Kurdify
Kurdify
other regions such as the Nineveh
Nineveh
plains and Kirkuk
Kirkuk
by providing financial support for Kurds
Kurds
who want to settle in those areas.[103][104] The KRG defend their actions as necessary compensation for the hundreds of thousands of Kurds
Kurds
that have been forced out of the same areas by previous Iraqi governments and during the Al-Anfal campaign. In April 2016, Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch
wrote that the Kurdish security force of KRG, the Asayish, blocked the roads to Arbil
Arbil
to prevent Assyrians from holding a protest. According to demonstrators, the reason for the blocked protest was that Kurds
Kurds
in the Nahla Valley, mainly populated by Assyrians, encroached on land owned by Assyrians, without any action by courts or officials to remove the structures the Kurds
Kurds
built there.[105] On February 2017, Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch
said Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Regional Government (KRG) forces are detaining men and boys who have fled the fighting in Mosul
Mosul
even after they have passed security checks. Detainees were held for up to four months without any communication with their families. Relatives of these men and boys said that KRG and Iraqi forces didn’t inform them of the places of their detained relatives and didn't facilitate any contact with them.[106] Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch
reported that Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Regional Government security forces and local police detained 32 unarmed protesters in Erbil
Erbil
on March 4, 2017, at a peaceful demonstration against recent clashes in Sinjar. 23 of them were released at the same day and 3 more within four days, but 6, all foreign nationals, are still being held. A police chief ordered one protester who was released to permanently leave Erbil, where he was living. While in detention, protesters were not allowed to contact with anyone or have access to a lawyer.[107] Economy Main article: Economy of Iraqi Kurdistan

Agriculture
Agriculture
is one of the main occupations in the region

The Kurdistan
Kurdistan
region's economy is dominated by the oil industry (with potential reserves of around 45 billion barrels),[108] agriculture and tourism. Due to relative peace in the region it has a more developed economy in comparison to other parts of Iraq. Prior to the removal of Saddam Hussein, the Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Regional Government received approximately 13% of the revenues from Iraq's Oil-for-Food Programme. By the time of the US invasion of Iraq
Iraq
in 2003, the program had disbursed $8.35 billion to the KRG. Iraqi Kurdistan's food security allowed for substantially more of the funds to be spent on development projects than in the rest of Iraq. By the program's end in 2003 $4 billion of the KRG's oil-for-food funds remained unspent.

Kirkuk–Ceyhan oil pipeline

Following the removal of Saddam Hussein's administration and the subsequent violence, the three provinces fully under the Kurdistan Regional Government's control were the only three in Iraq
Iraq
to be ranked "secure" by the US military. The relative security and stability of the region has allowed the KRG to sign a number of investment contracts with foreign companies. In 2006, the first new oil well since the invasion of Iraq
Iraq
was drilled in the Kurdistan
Kurdistan
region by the Norwegian energy company DNO. Initial indications are that the oil field contains at least 100 million barrels (16,000,000 m3) of oil and will be pumping 5,000 bbl/d (790 m3/d) by early 2007.[citation needed] The stability of the Kurdistan
Kurdistan
region has allowed it to achieve a higher level of development than other regions in Iraq. In 2004, the per capita income was 25% higher than in the rest of Iraq. The government continues to receive a portion of the revenue from Iraq's oil exports, and the government will soon implement a unified foreign investment law[when?]. The KRG also has plans to build a media city in Erbil
Erbil
and free trade zones near the borders of Turkey
Turkey
and Iran[when?]. Since 2003, the stronger economy of Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurdistan
has attracted around 20,000 workers from other parts of Iraq.[109] According to Iraqi president Jalal Talabani, since 2003 the number of millionaires in the Kurdish city of Silêmani has increased from 12 to 2,000, reflecting the financial and economic growth of the region.[110] Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurdistan
currently has the lowest poverty rates in Iraq.[111] According to the KRG website, no coalition soldier has died nor any foreigner been kidnapped since the 2003 invasion of Iraq
Iraq
in areas administered by the KRG.[112] Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurdistan
also has strong economic relations with neighbouring Iran, with $100m worth of goods traded between the countries in 2000, growing to $4bn by 2014.[113] In 2017, an article written by columnist Suliman Mulhem on Sputnik News discussed growing economic ties between Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurdistan
and the Russian Federation. The KRG's Foreign Minister Falah Mustafa mentioned cooperation with Rosneft
Rosneft
in the oil sector. He also hinted to Mulhem about plans for Russian assistance in the transport sector. [114] [115] Petroleum and mineral resources KRG-controlled parts of Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurdistan
contain 4 billion barrels of proven oil reserves. However, the KRG has estimated that the region contains around 45 billion barrels (7.2×10^9 m3) of unproven oil resource.[116][117][118][119] Extraction of these reserves began in 2007. In November 2011, Exxon
Exxon
challenged the Iraqi central government's authority with the signing of oil and gas contracts for exploration rights to six parcels of land in Kurdistan, including one contract in the disputed territories, just east of the Kirkuk
Kirkuk
mega-field.[120] This act caused Baghdad
Baghdad
to threaten to revoke Exxon's contract in its southern fields, most notably the West-Qurna Phase 1 project.[121] Exxon
Exxon
responded by announcing its intention to leave the West-Qurna project.[122] As of July 2007, the Kurdish government solicited foreign companies to invest in 40 new oil sites, with the hope of increasing regional oil production over the following 5 years by a factor of five, to about 1 million barrels per day (160,000 m3/d).[123] Gas and associated gas reserves are in excess of 100×10^12 cu ft (2,800 km3).[citation needed] Notable companies active in Kurdistan
Kurdistan
include Exxon, Total, Chevron, Talisman Energy, DNO, MOL Group, Genel Energy, Hunt Oil, Gulf Keystone Petroleum, and Marathon Oil.[124] Other mineral resources that exist in significant quantities in the region include coal, copper, gold, iron, limestone (which is used to produce cement), marble, and zinc. The world's largest deposit of rock sulfur is located just southwest of Erbil.[125] In July 2012, Turkey
Turkey
and the Kurdistan Regional Government
Kurdistan Regional Government
signed an agreement by which Turkey
Turkey
will supply the KRG with refined petroleum products in exchange for crude oil. Crude deliveries are expected to occur on a regular basis.[126] Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Gas project provides electricity to over four million Iraqis. Infrastructure and transport Infrastructure Due to the devastation of the campaigns of the Iraqi army under Saddam Hussein and other former Iraqi regimes, the Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Region's infrastructure was never able to modernize. After the 1991 safe haven was established, the Kurdistan Regional Government
Kurdistan Regional Government
began projects to reconstruct the Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Region. Since then, of all the 4,500 villages that were destroyed by Saddam Husseins' regime, 65% have been reconstructed by the KRG.[112] Furthermore, since the removal of the previous regime in 2003, the KRG has been able to scale up its service delivery and infrastructure, which has changed the economic landscape of the region and facilitated a number of investment projects.[citation needed] Mobility

Airports of Sulaimaniyah and Erbil

Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurdistan
can be reached by land and air. By land, Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurdistan
can be reached most easily by Turkey
Turkey
through the Habur Border Gate which is the only border gate between Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurdistan
and Turkey. This border gate can be reached by bus or taxi from airports in Turkey
Turkey
as close as the Mardin or Diyarbakir airports, as well as from Istanbul
Istanbul
or Ankara. Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurdistan
has two border gates with Iran, the Haji Omaran border gate and the Bashmeg border gate near the city of Sulaymaniyah. Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurdistan
has also a border gate with Syria
Syria
known as the Faysh Khabur
Faysh Khabur
border gate.[127] From within Iraq, the Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Region can be reached by land from multiple roads. Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurdistan
has opened its doors to the international world by opening two international airports. Erbil
Erbil
International Airport and Sulaimaniyah International Airport, which both operate flights to Middle Eastern and European destinations. The KRG spent millions of dollars on the airports to attract international carriers, and currently Turkish Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Lufthansa, Etihad, Royal Jordanian, Emirates, Gulf Air, Middle East
Middle East
Airlines, Atlas Jet, and Fly Dubai all service the Region. There are at least 2 military airfields in Iraqi Kurdistan.[128]

Administrative divisions

Governorates of Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Region[129]

Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurdistan
is divided into four governorates (Parêzga in Kurdish). The governorates of Duhok, Erbil, Sulaymaniya and Halabja form the Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Region. Each of these governorates is divided into districts with a total of 26 districts. Each district is divided into sub-districts. Governorates have a capital city, while districts and sub-districts have district centers. Points of disagreement exist between the Iraqi government and the Kurdish regional government about certain territories outside of Iraqi Kurdistan, notably in the neighboring governorates of Kirkuk, Ninawa and Diyala.

Main cities and towns in the Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Region

Disputed areas Main article: Disputed territories of Northern Iraq Disputed internal Kurdish–Iraqi boundaries have been a core concern for Arabs
Arabs
and Kurds, especially since US invasion and political restructuring in 2003. Kurds
Kurds
gained territory to the south of Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurdistan
after the US-led invasion in 2003 to regain what land they considered historically theirs.[130] Currently, in addition to the three governorates of Iraqi Kurdistan, Kurds
Kurds
control parts of Ninawa, Kirkuk
Kirkuk
and Diyala governorates, which are also claimed by the Iraqi government; on the other hand, the Iraqi government control parts of those three provinces which are also claimed by the Kurds. Cities See also: Cities in Iraqi Kurdistan The Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Region has an increasing urban population with still a significant rural population. The linked list is an incomplete list of the largest cities within the three governorates which are currently de jure and de facto under control of the Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Regional Government. Demographics Main article: Kurds
Kurds
in Iraq Further information: Kurdish people Due to the absence of a proper census, the exact population and demographics of Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurdistan
are unknown, but the Kurdish Regional Government has recently started to publish more detailed figures. The population of the region is notoriously difficult to ascertain, as the Iraqi government has historically sought to minimize the importance of the Kurdish minority while Kurdish groups have had a tendency to exaggerate the numbers.[131] Based on available data, Iraqi Kurdistan has a young population with an estimated 36% of the population being under the age of 15.[132] As of 2017, the population of Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurdistan
had reached 5.8 million people. The ethnic make-up of Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurdistan
is diverse, including a Kurdish majority and significant ethnic minorities of Arabs, Turkmen, Assyrians, Armenians and ethno-religious minorities of Shabaks, Kakai and Yazidis. Languages The Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Region’s official languages are Kurdish and Arabic;[133] Kurdish is the most widely spoken language. The two main dialects of Kurdish are Sorani
Sorani
and Kurmanji
Kurmanji
in its Bahdini variant, but a part of the population also speaks Hawrami, especially in the Halabja
Halabja
region. In Shingal
Shingal
(also called Jebel Sinjar), people speak a Kurmanji
Kurmanji
dialect known as Shengali. The Sorani
Sorani
dialect which is spoken in Arbil
Arbil
is similar to the dialect of Mukriani which is spoken in Piranshahr and Mahabad. Piranshahr and Mahabad are known as Mukrian in Kurdistan's historical geography. Arabic, Assyrian Neo-Aramaic, Chaldean Neo-Aramaic, Turkmen and Armenian are also spoken by their respective communities.[133] Religion Main article: Religion in Kurdistan Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurdistan
has a religiously diverse population. The dominant religion is Islam, which is professed by the majority of Iraqi Kurdistan's inhabitants. These include Kurds, Iraqi Turkmen, and Arabs, belonging mostly to the Shafi'i
Shafi'i
school of Sunni
Sunni
Islam. There is also a small number of Shia
Shia
Feyli Kurds,[134] as well as adherents of Sufi Islam. Christianity is professed by Assyrians and Armenians. Yezidis make up a significant minority, with some 650,000 in 2005,[135] or 560,000 as of 2013,[134] though those numbers decreased following the 2014 crisis in northern Iraq. The Shabaki and Yarsan
Yarsan
(Ahl-e Haqq or Kakai) religions number around and 250,000 and 200,000 adherents respectively;[134] these, like Yezidism, are sometimes said to be related to the pre-Islamic indigenous religion of Kurdistan.[136] In 2015, the Kurdistan Regional Government
Kurdistan Regional Government
enacted a law to formally protect religious minorities. The Zoroastrian faith have around 500 followers according to an official research from the religious affairs committee from the parliament.[137] Awat Hosamadin Taieb, the Zoroastrian Representative of the Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Regional Government, stated that the new estimates are in fact modest and that there may be many more adherents.[138] Zoroastrians were seeking official recognition of their religion as of early 2016.[139] The first Zoroastrian temple was opened in the city of Sulaymaniyah
Sulaymaniyah
(Silêmanî) in September 2016.[140] A tiny ethno-religious community of Mandeans
Mandeans
also exists within the semi-autonomous region.

Mudhafaria Minaret
Mudhafaria Minaret
in the Minare Park, Erbil

Chaldean Catholic Mar Yousif Cathedral in Ankawa

Jalil Al Khayat Mosque in Erbil

Yazidi
Yazidi
sites mark the tomb of Şêx Adî in Lalish

Immigration Since the overthrow of the regime of Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein
in 2003, Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurdistan
has witnessed massive immigration from the rest of Iraq (particularly from Kurds, Assyrians, Armenians, Mandeans, Shabaks), as well as Kurds
Kurds
from other parts of Kurdistan. Because of the stability and security, Kurdistan
Kurdistan
has witnessed non-Kurdish or non-Iraqi immigrants. Widespread economic activity between Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurdistan
and Turkey
Turkey
has given the opportunity for Kurds
Kurds
from Turkey
Turkey
to seek jobs in Iraqi Kurdistan. A Kurdish newspaper based in the Kurdish capital estimates that around 50,000 Kurds
Kurds
from Turkey
Turkey
are now living in Kurdistan[141] Reports about immigrant Kurds
Kurds
from Syria, Iran
Iran
and Turkey
Turkey
have been published as well. Refugees See also: Douglas Al-Bazi The Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Region is hosting 1.2 million displaced Iraqis
Iraqis
who have been displaced by the ISIS war, as of early December 2017. There were about 335,000 in the area prior to 2014 with the rest arriving in 2014 as a result of unrest in Syria
Syria
and attacks by the Islamic State.[142] In addition the Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Region hosts around 240,000 Syrian refugees who fled the Syrian Civil War, as of January 2018. Culture Main articles: Iraqi culture
Iraqi culture
and Kurdish culture Kurdish culture
Kurdish culture
is a group of distinctive cultural traits practiced by Kurdish people. The Kurdish culture
Kurdish culture
is a legacy from the various ancient peoples who shaped modern Kurds
Kurds
and their society, but primarily Iranian. Among their neighbours, the Kurdish culture
Kurdish culture
is closest to Persian culture. For example, they celebrate Newroz
Newroz
as the new year day, which is celebrated on March 21. It is the first day of the month of Xakelêwe in Kurdish calendar and the first day of spring.[143] Other peoples such as Arabs, Assyrians, Armenians, Shabaks and Mandeans
Mandeans
have their own distinctive cultures. Music Main articles: Iraqi music
Iraqi music
and Kurdish music Traditionally, there are three types of Kurdish classical performers - storytellers (çîrokbêj), minstrels (stranbêj) and bards (dengbêj). There was no specific music related to the Kurdish princely courts, and instead, music performed in night gatherings (şevbihêrk) is considered classical. Several musical forms are found in this genre. Many songs are epic in nature, such as the popular lawiks which are heroic ballads recounting the tales of Kurdish heroes of the past like Saladin. Heyrans are love ballads usually expressing the melancholy of separation and unfulfilled love. Lawje is a form of religious music and Payizoks are songs performed specifically in autumn. Love songs, dance music, wedding and other celebratory songs (dîlok/narînk), erotic poetry and work songs are also popular. Sport

Franso Hariri Stadium

Football is the most popular sport in Iraqi Kurdistan, overseen by the Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Football Association. KFA submit an application for membership in FIFA. The Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Premier League is a Kurdish professional league for men's association football clubs. At the top of the Kurdish football league system, it is the country's primary football competition. Contested by 14 clubs, it operates on a system of promotion and relegation. October 2012, Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Kickboxing Association (KKA) was officially announced as the new member of World Kickboxing and Karate Association (WKA). Also member of World Kickboxing and Karate Union (WKU). In 2012 Kurdistan
Kurdistan
won the Viva World Cup as the host of the tournament. Education See also: Education in Kurdistan
Kurdistan
and List of universities in Iraqi Kurdistan Before the establishment of the Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Regional Government, primary and secondary education was almost entirely taught in Arabic. Higher education was always taught in Arabic. This however changed with the establishment of the Kurdistan
Kurdistan
autonomous region. The first international school, the International School of Choueifat
International School of Choueifat
opened its branch in Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurdistan
in 2006. Other international schools have opened and British International Schools in Kurdistan
Kurdistan
is the latest with a planned opening in Suleimaniah in September 2011. Iraqi Kurdistan’s official universities are listed below, followed by their English acronym (if commonly used), internet domain, establishment date and latest data about the number of students.

Institute Internet domain Established Students

University of Sulaimani
University of Sulaimani
(UOS) univsul.edu.iq 1968 25,900 (2013)

Salahaddin University (SU) www.su.edu.krd 1970 20,000 (2013)

University of Dohuk www.uod.ac 1992 19,615 (2017)[144]

University of Zakho www.uoz.edu.krd 2010 2,600 (2011)[145]

University of Koya
University of Koya
(KU) www.koyauniversity.org 2003 4260 (2014)

The University of Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Hewler (UKH) www.ukh.edu.krd 2006 400 (2006)

The American University of Iraq
Iraq
– Sulaimani (AUIS) www.auis.edu.krd 2007 1100 (2014)

American University Duhok
Duhok
Kurdistan
Kurdistan
(AUDK) www.audk.edu.krd 2014 (?)

Hawler Medical University (HMU) www.hmu.edu.krd 2006 (?) (2006)

Business & Management University (BMU) www.lfu.edu.krd/index.php 2007 (?) (2007)

SABIS University www.sabisuniversity.edu.iq 2009 (?) (2009)

Cihan University www.cihanuniversity.org 2007 (?)

Komar University of Science and Technology
Komar University of Science and Technology
(KUST) www.komar.edu.iq 2012 (?)

Hawler Private University for Science and Technology hpust.com ? (?)

Ishik University
Ishik University
(IU) www.ishik.edu.krd 2008 1,700 (2012)

Soran University www.soran.edu.iq 2009 2200 (2011)

Newroz
Newroz
University www.nawrozuniversity.com 2004 (?)

University of Human Development (UHD/Qaradax) www.uhd.edu.iq 2008 (?)

Sulaimani Polytechnic University (SPU) www.sulypun.org/sulypun 1996 13000 (2013)

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Region & its Governorates". www.krso.net.  ^ Bartu, Peter (2010). "Wrestling With the Integrity of A Nation: The Disputed Internal Boundaries in Iraq". International Affairs. 6. 86.  ^ Gareth R. V. Stansfield; Jomo (29 August 2003). Iraqi Kurdistan: Political Development and Emergent Democracy. Routledge. pp. 32–. ISBN 978-1-134-41416-1.  ^ "The people of the Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Region". www.krg.org.  ^ a b "The Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Region's official languages for government purposes are Kurdish and Arabic". Kurdistan
Kurdistan
Regional Government. 2010-06-27. Retrieved 2010-12-28.  ^ a b c "Minorities in Iraq: Memory, Identity and Challenges" (PDF). 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 1, 2014.  ^ "Iraq's Yezidis: A Religious and Ethnic Minority Group Faces Repression and Assimilation" (PDF). September 25, 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 9, 2006.  ^ Izady, Mehrdad R. (1992). The Kurds: a concise handbook, p. 170. ^ "پەرلەمانی كوردستان ئەمڕۆ كۆدەبێتەوە". February 12, 2018.  ^ "Hamazor Issue #2 2017: " Kurdistan
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reclaims its ancient Zoroastrian Faith" (PDF). Hamazor.  ^ " Zoroastrianism
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External links

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WorldCat Identities VIAF: 154853943 LCCN: n86066772 GND: 1060958392 SUDOC: 027771040 BNF: cb1197

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