National Forrlrn Aimimenl Ctnltf
The Kurdish Problem in Perspectivef
A Research Paper
Research for this report was completed on SO
This paper has been coordinated within theAjency.j
Tbe Kurdish Problem
: M 1'J
Key Jfall from power of the Shah of Iran and the instability that has plagued
ihe Khorneini regime have recused international attention on theistinct ethnic group with their own language and culture, the Kurds Tor several thousand years haveountainous region, historically known is Kurdistan, which includes parts of southeast Turkey, northwest Iran, and northern Iraq as well as smaller enclaves in Syria and the USSR.
Although the Kurds constitute the fourth most numerous people in the Middle East (after Arabs, Turks, andhey have not achieved territorial independence because:
differences in religion and dialect, and national barriers have
prevented the development of any real Kurdish unity;onsequence. Kurdish nationalist groups have tended to act independently of one another.
groups within Turkey, Iran, and Iraq have almost always been able to unite to frustrate Kurdith separatist or autonomist aspirations.
The chances that the Kurds will be able to achieve self-determination in the future are not good:
Even though the Kurds in Iran have assumed de facto control over much of the predominantly Kurdish area of the country, the revolutionarynent will not permit Infringements of Its ability to conduct foreign, defense, or economic policy to go unchallenged. Most Kurdish leaders recognize that when the government's forces are sufficiently rebuilt, it will, if necessary, use force lo reestablish its control over the Kurdish region. Moreover, most Iranian Kurds probably would prefer to settle for autonomy than risk open conflict with the government.
The Turkish Government will not grant the Kurds in Turkey greater political autonomy, although Ankara might allow lis Kurdish minority greater freedom of cultural expression.
The Iraqi Government will continue toombination of military force and economic inducement toesurgence of dissidentmong Iraqi Kurds.
The Kurdish community In Syria has been assimilated by ihc local societyieater degree than Kurdish minorities In neighboring countries, and antlgovemment activity by the Syrian Kurds seems unlikely^ ]
Although full-scale conflict between the Kurds in Iran and the revolutionary government does not seem likely in the nor term, an attempt by the government to extend Iu control in the Kurdish region led to serious clashes in lite July. Guerrilla activity, especially by Kurds in Iran and Iraq, is likely to continue. Over the longer term, the possibility of more serious conflict between the Kurds and the governments of the state* in which they live probably depends on two factors: whether future events so weaken the control of the governments in question as lo provide Ihe Kurds wilh an opportunity lo press for greater self-determination; and whether any of the Kurdish communities Is able to obtain substantial outside aid such as that
The Soviets would undoubtedly like to use Kurdish dissidence tu put pressure on neighboring governments that are not considered pro-Soviet. They are inhibited from providing large-scale, direct support to such minorities In Iran, Ir q, and Turkey, however, by their desire to avoid severe damage to their rejt mi with these states. Al the time time, the Soviets may indirectly suppor. the Kurds by condoning third-party transfers of Soviet equipment As most Kurdish dissident leaders have ties to pro-Soviet Communisi parties, such arrangements would be relatively simple. In doing so, they would hope to encourage continued instability in Iran and create problems for the increasingly anti-Soviet Baathist government in Iraq; such action would also serve to remind area states of tho Soviet capability to create dissension among their
Eranomte and Sociil
The RUe of Kurdish
The Kurdish ProMern indj Government
Kurdish AitHudet, Grrjepe, tod
Cooperation with Neighboring
Government Policies and
Kordrsh Ort^rwlzatkica and
Government Policies and
Persistence of Kurdlih
Attitadea and Polices Toward Kurds
Policy Toward Kurds in the Soviet
incieni times, the Kurds have inhabited the mountainous region stretching from southeast Turkey across northern Iraq and into northwestern Iran, with small enclaves In northern Syria and in the Transcaucasui region ofthe USSR. The total area, coveringquare kilometers, has neverormal political entity, despite ill-fated attempts over the years toeparate Kurdish state. Nevertheless, this area has historically been labeledther small communities of Kurds have emigrated from Ihc Kurdish heartland io more economics lly advantageous urban areas or have been relocated by the government! of the states in which they HveJ
Ethnic Origin It is generally thought that the Kurds are Ihe descendants of Indo-European tribes lhat settled in Ihe Kurdish areas perhaps upears ago. The Kurds consider themselves, inaccurately according lo some historians, to be the direct descendants of the ancient Medcs, conquerors of NirwvahC. who were defeated by the Persiansears later. In physical appearance the Kurds vary throughout
Kurdistanesult of mixing with other ethnic groups over the centuries. They are. however, regardedistinct and separate ethnic group.|^
Mmt estimates of the number of Kurds living in the '. region range5illion inillion inillion inn Syria,n (he USSR. Estimates by some Kurdish sourcesotal population of aroundillion seen high and may be designee to justify territorial claims. Althoughmaller number of Kurds living in Iraq thanurkey and Iran, they account for someercent of Iraq's population, as opposed to approximatelyercent in Turkey and Iran. The Kurds in Syria onstituteercent of the total population.
Although most Kurds in Turkey inhabit theareas in the southeastern part of the country, some art found in central Anatolia. In addition, several hundred thousand Turkish Kurds have migrated to Ankara and Istanbul in search of employment.^
Uountalnnuiof Ukt VrmlaAvoirs*
In Iran, Ihe Kurds are found mainly in thenorth western part of the country, althoughnhabit Ihe mountainous area northwest of Mashad along the Soviet border. Iranian Kurds are also found southwest af Khorramabad. nearear Birjond in eastern Khorasan Province, and south of Zahadon in Baluchistan va Sistan Province. There arc ulso Kurds living in Tehran and other large cities in the country, although no figures are available^
Most !raqi Kurds live in the mountainous region of the north, although some are also found along the Tigris River south of Mosul, along the Tigris River southeast of Baghdad, and in Baghdad. There are several large towns in northern Iraq, but only Sulaymaniyah is predominantly Kurdish. An Iraqi Government Kurdish resettlement program initiated5 forced the relocation of thousands of Kurds to the area south of Baghdad, although most have since been permitted to return
Most Syrian Kurds are located in the northern section of the country along the Turkish border and ir. the northeastern Jazlrah area between Turkey and Iraqi0 Syrian Kurds live in Damascus.
Most Kurds in the Soviet Union live In the republics of Armenia, Georgia, and Ar.crbaldrhan.izable Kurdish minoiity in the Georgian-Turkish border area, as well as some Georgian Muslimsumber of Armenians living along the Turk'sh border, was deported to Soviet Central Asia In anticipation ofa Soviet military move against Turkey.^
The Kurdish languagerntrsl element of the cultural heritage of the Kurds. Their demand lhat Kurdish be adopted as the official language in Kurdish-speaking areas has longcious point of contention between Kurdish groups and theof the countries in which ihey reside. In Turkey, the teaching of Kurdish in schools was forbidden, as was the case in Iran before the revolution. Unlike the Turks, however, the Iranians allowed the priming of Kurdish books and the broedcasting of Kurdish radio programs. Since the Shah's overthrow, the Kurds in Iran have proclaimed Kurdish an official language, and in town* such as Sanandaj. Mahabad. and Kermanr.hah. the Kurdish language reportedly is being taught in schools. Currently In Iraq there is some indication that the Baathist government is considering
some linguistic autonomy to the Kurds and will permit ihe expansion of Kurdish-language radio and television broadcasting. As recently as two years ago, however, the government was accelerating its efTons to curtail the teaching of the Kurdish language in elementary and secondary schools in the Kurdish region, as well as doing away with all Kurdish studies in Iraqi universities. The Kurds in the USSR are permitted to use Kurdish in schools, radio programs, and newspapers.) |
Kurdish belongs to the Iranian branch ofthe Indo-European family of languages and Is related lo Farsi, Baluchi, and Pushtu. It has bee" characterized by one scholarspecial language, the sister ofnd perhaps the more ancient of theurdish Is divided into two broad classifications of dialects: Kurmanji. spoken throughout the northwesternof Kurdistan, and Kurdi, prevalent In theregion, Zaza, spoken by Kurds in central Turkey. Is sometimes listedhird major dialect, although It mayepara'r language. Many variations of these groupings arc spoken by the Kurds and are known throughout Kurdistan by their local names. In Iraq, for example, the major dialect used in the dominant Kurdish tribal areas and among most Kurdish urban dwellers Is Sorani, which Is closely related to the Kurdi dialect/
Differences in dialect lend to offset any unifying influenceommon language might hnvc. Some spoken dialects have diverged to the point of mutual unintelligibility: to complicate mattersurther, in some areas the Kurdish dialects have been so heavily influenced by neighboring languages that in their vocabulary they often more closely resemble Turkish. Arabic, or Farsij |
The most common form of written Kurdish isuren Kurdi (orhich is based on the Sulamaniyah dialect. Itodified Arabic script. Some literature in Kurmanji hat been publishedcript based nn the Roman alphabet. Kurds in
the Soviet Unioncript consisting largely of
Cyrillic charactersew Roman characters.
Even though the majority of Kurds are Sunni Muslims of the Shafi'l school of jurisprudence, religion has actedivisive factor. Many Kurds arc drawn to various Dervish orders, and differences over practices and adherence to Sufi mysticism have added to overall tribal divisions. In addition, many tribal leaders combine hereditary religious leadership with their temporal authority, adding to the intensity of tribal distinctions. In Iraq and Iran, where some Kurds arc '
-Tun In. mi
Shlas, religious differences are further compounded.
j Iranian Kurds in tho Kurdish provinces of
! Kermonshahan nnd Ham are virtually all Shlas and identify with fellow non-Kurdish Shins. Kurds from the more northern Kurdish region of Iran do not regard the Shins in the south ns Kurds at all and frequently refer to them as Farurds In the USSR '
i have included SunnU, Shbs, and Yczidisre-Mus!imut these distinctions have become blurred over the years. There are also small groups of Jewish and Christian Kurds, but their present status is
. unknown. | |
j Structure af Society
Tribalism has also acted to promote disunity. Over the centuries, it was the tribe that received the primary allegiance of most Kurds, and even Kurds who have been settled for many generations maintain their tribal affiliation. Such fervent tribal loyally, combined with the mountain isolation which inhibited intertribal communication, promoted tribal feuding and mutual suspicion, which still exists today. During the height of the Kurdish uprising in Iraq during the earlysome tribes fought on the government's side, and others switched back and forth. Some families assured their fortunes either by having one branch stay neutral or by making sure Hint one group fought on each side of the conflict]
In general, the Kurds have refused to be assimilated under any central governmental authority: they have Instead looked to their tribal leaders or aghai for upport and guidance. The ag'ias spent most of their time negotiating, or feuding, with the government or other tribes, conducting intertribal busines* where tribal alliances existed, and resolving disputes within the tribe. In return for their leadership, the tribes supported theof whom were wealthysharecropping on tribal land or l> Tjugh direct contributions in the form of gifts. In some instances where the tribe iiad no title to the land it used, other than traditional grazing rights, the aghas werc able lo acquire legal possession ofthe tribal lands, thereby safeguarding their Incomes and acquiring large landholdmgs in the process.)
available on the role and significance of individual Kurdish tribes outside Iraq is very limited as well as dated. In Iraq, the most important tribes are the Barzani. Talabani, and Jnf. Historically Ihe Barzani tribe has been regarded as the most warlike and independent of all the in be* Located in noniiun Iraq around the village of Barxan near the Turkish border, the Barzanisettled tribe, chiefly involved in farming. They have long feuded with nomadic tribes that migrate seasonally across graring lands regarded by the Barzanis as their private lands; in its conflicts with the Barzanis, (he government has often been aided by their traditional tribal enemies, both settled and nomadic. From thentil tils death inulla Mustafa Barzani' was the undisputed leader of the Barzanis.^
Some members of the Talabani tribe are located in villages northwwt of Khanaqin. while the majority of the tribe lives in the area around Kirkuk. One faction of the Talabani tribe, which like the Barzanisettled tribe largely engaged in agriculture, isof followers of Jalalrincipal opponent of Mulla Mustafa Barrani for leadership of the Kurdish movement. Other factions of the Talabani tribe arc led by various family sheikhs, Q
The Jafs are believed to be the largest of all the Kurdish tribes. Most Jafs lives In three areas ofKirkuk, and Sulaymaniyah. Untilfrom doing so by the Iranian Government in the, the Jafs migrated to Iran for summer grazing, and some have remained ihere. Since the, the Jrfs have turnedctiled existence. In the, they were described as neutral in the conflict between ihe government and the Barzanis,
Although the majority of Kurds todayettled agricultural or seminomadic existence, tribal pride and identity continue to be Impormnl. Tribal disputes center on such triples as grazing rights and marriage
here areowever, lhat tribal bonds umong Kurds areraditional ruling family may retain some control In settled village communities, but the customary social order is no longerWithin the urban areas, tribal identity is leu important economically. Although belongingarticular trie: may still have some sucial significance, many better educated Kurdswllh Ihe overall Kurdish cause ruthcrarticular tribe. Kurdish leftists have accused wealthy Kurdish tribal lenders, along with affluent Kurdish merchants nnd religious men, of perpetuating the oppression ofthe poorer Kurds,
In Iran, (he Shah's land reformkc up most large estates held by the Kurdish landowning class, destroying much ofthe influence of the Iraniun tribal chiefs or khans. Kurdish tribesmen in other couniries arc also breaking wiih the tradition of financially supporting their leaders. While yjunjer Kurds, as well as those now living along tbe periphery of traditional Kurdistan, still maintain their sense of ethnic identity, many are straying from the old tribnl traditions. The effect of these changes, along with the policies of individual governments Intended to incorporate Kurdsentralized authority, has been to reduce and, in some cases, eliminate the political power of many traditional tribal chicftaina.1
Economic and Social Sllaalloa
Years of unrest and resistance to central authority. Indifference by the various governments, and the mountainous terrain have checked the spread of modern health practices and education among the Kurds. The traditional nomadic way of life led by most Kurds has offered little ccajortunily for economic improvement. In recent years, however, .mehave come to recognize the need for economic and socialn the Kurdishfor no other reason thanmprove security. Under the land reform laws0 In Iran, large Kurdish holdings were broken up and turned overhe Kurdish peasants who farmed II. Since the end of the
Kurdish revolt In Irvqhe government has moved some Kurds from their Muted mountain homes to "modern model villages" supplied with electricity, running water, schools, and medical clinics. In the USSk, life on the collective farms offers the Kurds more security than their former nomadism, but at the expense of their traditional lifestyle.
Although there aresome nomadic pastoralKurds arc now settledespitefurming methods and equipment andof the terrain, Kurdish agriculture isbe fairly productive. Where conditionsis the principolrop.
The illiteracy rate of the Kurds is somcwhai ubovc the generally high levels prevailing in the Middle East. Nevertheless, over the last fewmall Kurdish intelligentsia has developed among theand professional class of Kurdish society. It was this almost exclusively urban group that provided the impetus for the nationalist aspiration* of the Mahabadnd has played an incrcusing role in national movements since then. Graduates ofin the Middle Fast. Western Europe and North America, the educated Kurds tend to leave the Kurdish areas to seek employment in urban centers or even outside the country. In the USSR, some educated urban Kurds arc involved in themcdia. leaching, and, al times, local government)
The Rise of Kurdish Nationalism
The early history of Ihe Kurds records link evidence of Kurdish unity or national cohesion, although short-lived Kurdish principalities flourishedew areas. Located between the rival Turkish and Persianindividual tribes aligned themselves with one
side or Ihc oihcr and often fought each other. In theh century, the Turkish-Persian frontier* were finally stabilized, with three quarters of the Kurds falling under Ottoman rule and the remainder under the Savnfid dynasty of Persia. The few attempts to penetretc or pacify the Kurdish area, however, *erc unsuccessful.eries of insurrections in theth century, there was no sign that the tribes were becoming one nntion. The first Indication of Kurdish political nationalism was the revolt led by Ubaydallah of Shaminan inhich was aimed al uniting the Kurdish peoples of the Turkish and Persian empires into one state, but this failed when both empires cooperated lo eliminate Ihe common threat
In ihe years immediately before World War I. Kurdish intellectuals established secret nationalist societies but modern Kurdish nationalism did not take shape until the end of the *tr. The promise of self-determination held out following the defeat of Turkey raised the liopes of the non-Turkish peoples of the Ottoman Empire, including the Kurds, that they would be able to control their own destiny. The Treaty ofigned by Turkey and the allied powers in0 acknowledged Ihe eilstcnceofa distinct Kurdish community and called for provisional recognition of an
independent Kurdistan made upof territory that today composes part uf southeastern Turkeyj-
The Treaty of Sevres was never ratified, however, and In3 il was replaced by the Treaty of Lausanne, which ignored Ihc Kurdish minority. "SouthernOttoman province of Mosul, which was under British control when the warmade port of the newly created stale ofwas placed under British mandate. The remainder of Kurdistan fell under the control of Turkey nndsmall areas In Syria nnd ihc Soviet Union!
In Ihc year* Immediately before World War I, Kurdish intellectuals established secret nationalist societies bul modern Kurdish nationalism did not take shine until the end of the war. The promise of self-determination held out following the defeat of Turkey raised the hopes of the non-Turkish peoples of the Ottoman Empire, including the Kurds, lhat they would be able to control their own destiny. The Treaty of Sevres signed by Turkey and the allied po'vers In0 acknowledged the existenceistinct Kurdish community and called for provisional recognition of an independent Kurdistan made up of territory that today composes part of southeastern Turkeyj-
The Kurds in Iran Tired little belter between the wars. The government of Rera Khan, later Shah Pahlivj.ew national unity by defeating tribe after tribe by force of arnu or intrigue. He placed influential Kurdish leaden in enforced residence In Tehran or elsewhere. Revolts.0 led by Agha Ismail, known as Slmko, of ihe Shikak tribe, were suppressed. Efforts were made by the Iranian Government lo Impose the Persian language on the Kurds and to replace traditional Kurdish dress with Westernevolt1 by Sheikh Tatar of the Hamedan tribe was put down harshly, after which the government declared with some truth that "it had no Kurdish problem."
Inevolt by Sheikh Mahmud in the Sulaymaniyah area9 was put down by the Briiish. Another revolt3 by Sheikh Mahmud. who proclaimed himself the King of Southern Kurdistan, was again suppressed, but it secured for Ihe Kurds the right to teach Kurdish in theight incorporated in ihe terms of5 League of Nations mandate to the United Kingdom. Although British foreign policy was not actively hostile to Kurdish desires for autonomy, the discovery of oil in southern Iran and the possibility lhat oil was also present in northern Iraq worked against Britishfor on independent Kurdistan. The discovery of oil7 near Kirkukoncession held by US and European oil Interests acted to limit Western sympathy for the Kurdish independence movement2 Iraq, which had become independentnacted constitutional safeguards for the Kurdish population in order to satisfy requirements for membership in the League of Nations. In Ihe same year, however, efforts by the government to establish firmer control over ihe northern regionevolt led by Mullah Mustafa Barzani. Alrsirikes by the British, whoilitary presence in Iraq afterforced Mullah Mustafa and his supporters to withdraw into Turkey. The Barzanis again revolted3 and were not subdued5 when Mullah Mustafa fled io IranJ^
The Soviet-British occupation of Iran In1 provided the Kurds with the opportunity to form the only Independent Kurdish state in modern times. The
Soviet rone of occupation included most of the Kurdish region of Iran, for over four years, ihe Kuidsandoth of whom revolted against the Iranian central government ot the lime of theeffectively ruled themselves. Inoth national groups proclaimed independentthe Democratic Republic of (Iranian) Azerbaijan and the Kurdish Republic of Mahabad. The president of the Kurdish republic was Qazi Mohammad, who had headed the committee lhat had ruled Ihe district since1 uprising. Only the presence of Soviet troops prevented the Iranians from reasserting thcli control over the district; when the Soviets, reluctantly adhering to the termsreaty concluded wilh Iran, withdrew inhe two republics collapsed. Oozi Mohammadumber of other leaders of the Kurdish republic were executed. Mullah Mustafa Barzani. who had token command of the ormcd forces of the republic, fled to Iraq and shortly thereafter to ihe Soviet Union, where he remained forcnrs.|
The decade following the collapse of the Mahabad Republic was relatively peaceful as the governments of Iran and Turkey moved to disarm and subdueurdish populations. This period of tranquility was followed0 by another uprising in Turkey, where the Kurds took advantage of political instability accompanying the overthrow of the government by Ihe Turkish a'med forces to demonstrate forcibly against repressive governmente army, however, moved lo crush the rebels.^
raq, governmenl refusal lo meet Kurdisha conflict that was to last wilh occasionalforears. The return of MullahIraq from the Soviet Union shortly
Abd-al-Karim Qasim took power in8truggle between the Barzanis and other Kurdish tribes. Although Mullah Mustafa extended his hegemony over much of Ihe Kurdish population, Qasim. fearful lhat Ihe Barzanis were becoming loo powerful, began to aid traditional enemies of Mullah Muslafa. Hostilities began with government bombing of the traditional stronghold of Barren In1 in retaliation for an attack on army forcesribe allied with the Barzanis.)
Mullahreturn to Iraq alto marked the beginninguccessful effort on his part to control the Kurdistan Democratic Partyhe principal political organization of the Kurdish movement. Founded6 in Iran from the remnants ol prewar Kurdish political organizations, the party revealed in its program as well asolitburoentralCommunist influence. Despite tbe Soviet sponsorship ofthe party, however, control of Ihe party has largely remained in the hands of leaders devoted more to Kurdishthan social revolution.ullah Mustafa expelled membersro-Communistfrom the party and moved the orientation of the parly lo ihe right. The party remained, however, essentially an urban-based organization with itsappeal among educated.dctribalizcd Kurds.ore militant party leaders, including Jalal Talabani and party secretary Ibrahim Ahmad,to depose Barzani as head of the party, but were forced by Barrani's tribal supporters to flee to Iran. In later years, the Iraqi Government reportedly subsidized the Talabani faction in an effort to weaken Barzani. I
1he governmentumber of offensives against the Kurds, but none were successful in suppressing the Barzani-led forces, in large port because ol Iran's willingness to aid the Kurds and to allow its ten itory to be used for their supply and support. Despite Iran's experience wiih its own Kurdish minority, the Shah perceived support for the Kurds in Iraqeans ofro-Soviet socialist neighbor. Both the Kurds and the Iraqi military, which at times had as much asercent of its forces deployed against the rebels, suffered heavy losses. The military wing of the KDf, Ihc Pesh Merga. meaning "those who faceonstituted the principal Kurdish fighting force.|^
onscious that the strains caused by the war in ihe north had broughteries of regimes, the Banth government under Saddam Husayneace agreement with Mullah Musiafa. The provisions of ihe accord between the Kurds and ihe central government granted Barzani and ihe kdp greater concessions than ihey had ever received. It recognized the blnational character ofeffect establishing the Kurds as free and equal partners with the
reaffirmed Kurdish linguistic and cultural rights, and provided for economic rehabilitation and development oi the devastated regions of Kurdistan. Most important, the accord provided for the establish-mentelf-governing region of Kurdistan. An official census was to determine those areas in which the Kurdsajority^ |
In the subsequent four years during which the accord was io be carried out. the two sidesnable to agree on its implementation. Disagrecrient over the disposition of oil-rich Itirkuk Province prevented agreement on the territorial limits of the proposed autonomous region. The Kurds accused theof attempting to Arabize the Kurdish area by settling Arab tribes there and granting cultural rights to other minorities in order to undermine the Kurdish position in Kirkuk. Several attempts to assassinate Barzani and his sons confirmed the Ki rdish belief that the government did not intend to honor the accord.P
An autonomy law unilaterally promulgated by the government inhich in effect would have restored the control of the central government over the Kurdish areas, was rejected by the Kurdsiolation0 accord. Fighting broke out Ihe same month and lasted until the following year. Byowcvcr.as Iranian military units became increasingly involved in border incidents with Iraqi troops, the Shah's perception ofthe advantages of continued support for the Iraqi Kurds clearly began to change. It is doubtful if Ihe Iranian leader reallylear-cut Kurdish victory. His main goal was to keep the Iraqis so preoccupied that they would be unable to interfere with his policies in the Persian Gulf. He apparently came tourdish victoryreater threat to Iranian unity and security than an Iraqi Government victory.!"
Consequently, in5 in Ihe Algiers Accord, Iraq and Iran agreed to the demarcation of territorial and maritime borders and "the establishment of mutual security and confidence along their joint borders toinal end toall subversive infiltration from eithern the agreements following the Algiers Accord. Iraq made several concessions, both
territorial and political, to Inn. Iraq hid long ancour-aged Arab and Balurhl resistance to Ibe Shah and had laid claim tour.it tan Province in Iran at part of the Arab homeland. The Banihiu governmentall claims to Krum.inn and agreedoundary along the center of the Shalt nl-Arab It alio acceded to other territorial herder arrangement! long sought by Iran. Iran, In lurn, ncnpcd aiding the Kurds. In return for in concessions, Iraq wai able to reach an agreement with Iran ending tho Kurdiih revolt and the threat of foreign Intervention. [ |
Since the end of (he fighting Inraqi military vigilancerogram or economic Inoun-tives to the Kurdish minority have kept the level of antigovernmeiit activitiesinimum, although some Incident! and attempts lo assassinate Kurds who have cooperated with the government have occurred.
The Kurdish Problem and Government Policy
The area traditionally known as Kurdistan Includes territory In five states: Iran, Iraq. Turkey,nd the USSR. An examination of the pollci* of these countries toward their Kurdish minorities and the Kurds throughout Ihe area follows.
From thentilhe Shah's government was able to keep Ihe Kurds in Iron relatively quiet byarge-scale military presence in the Kurdish area, selectively arming Kurds loyal lo Ihe government, exiling tribal leadersof antigovcrnmenl activities, and increasing economic development and educational programs in the Kurdish area. Kurds who advocated Iranian nationalism as opposed to Kurdish rights were among the most prominent supporters of Prime Minister Mossadeq in the: under the Shah, an Increasing number of Kurds came to see their future linked to that of Iran.I I
The more thanurdish tribes and confederationsrantrong and continuing tradition ofnd fighting among themselves, and there Is no single leader toajority of Ihe tribes give allegiance. Land reform, which tends to weaken the authority of tribal lenders, has been applied more rapidly and effectively In the northwest lhan In any other area of Iran, although some tribal leaders Ihoughl to be loyal to Ihe government have been allowed lo rcialn large holdings. In addition, tho movement of manyetter educated, and more ambitious Kurds to the cities has reduced Ihe number of potential leaders and linked the welfarerowing number of families lo Iran proper.|
Govfrnmrni Policies and Attitudes. When PrimeMehdi Bazargan tookomce inbe foundoose federation of well-armed Kurdish tribal, religious, and political leaders, backed by guerrilla forces and army deserters, had assumed control In much of the area of the northwest where Kurds predominate. Tensions quickly rose, and several violent incidents occurred as Kurdish fictional leaders, government itpresentatives, and local pro-Khomeini leaders maneuvered for position.
Sheikh Fz-ed-Din Hoseini. Iht principal Sunni cleric in Ma hi bad, ihe capital of the ihori-'i.ed Kurdish republic, appears lo be the rnosi popular andKurdish religious figure. He has led several efforts to negotiate with the principal religious and political leaders of the revolutionary government, although he is dveply suspicious of Khomeini and his intentions. Inoscini and other Kurdish clerics met with Khomeini, whom Hoscini described as notto Kurdish autonomy, and with Ayatollah Talegani, whoettlement betweenKurds and pro-Khomeini forces earlier this year.
As ofurdish leaders and their followers were actively protesting the text of the newand the process by which it would be approved. Theotherthat the constitutional provisions Tor regional autonomy and rcsrxct for Sunni Muslims arc too weak. Hoseini has said the Constitution's provisions for minorities arc "old concents with new names" and that itslhat Shia Islam is the slate religion is "certain to provoke sectarianhmad Moftizadch. the government's designated Kurdish leader, has also criticized the text of the draft Constitution and has called for the elimination of its reference to Shia Islam as the state religion. Moftitadch and Hoseini haveoint protest calling for an Islamic republic without reference lo sects and for minorityon Ihe council that will review (he constitutionality of all new laws.j
Hon With Neighboring Kurds. Dissident Iraqi and Iranian Kurdsong history of cooperation. kdp Secretary General Qasemlu has had close ties lo the Iraqi Communisi Party, whrchurdish membership.
Relation* between ihc Kurdi of Iraq and the Arab-controlled cen'ral government In Baghdad have been shaped by yean of conflict andeep-seated Kurdish distrust of Baaihist schemes for Arab unity, which they regard as detrimental to their ownAlthough the Kurds have taken advantage of periods o' weakened central authority and promises of outside assistance to stage several rcvo'is against the government, for the most port they have not sought independence from Iraq; rather they have foufcht forghts with the Arabs and self-rule'ugle Iraqi state. When Kurdish hopes for autonomy and equality were quashed by Qasim following8 revolution, they beganears of intermittent revolt. Failure lo end that conflict contributed to the fall of three Iraqi govern menu in
Kurdish ambitions came closest to fulfillment0 when the Baaihist government under Saddam Husayh signed an accord wiih Mullah Mustafa Barzani recognizing the national rights of Ihe Kurdish people and granting them regional autonomy. Kurdish was to be the official language In the Kurdish autonomous region, and Kurdish educational institutions,niversity at Sutaymaniyoh, were to be established. Kurds were to be appointed to posts in the military, the police, and the universities in proportion in their number in the general population.p was officially recognized, and the Baathist government promised tourd vice president of the republic. Barzani was permitted to retain his heavy arms, while the government promised to pay his Pesh Merga troops, who had fought the rebellion, to actrontier force.| |
The Baaihist government. In power only two years and in need of internal security and stability, had made major concessions to Kurdish aspirations. Barzani gained control of more territory than he had everurdish newspaper and radio station beganand the Pesh Merga remained armed and intact. Over the next four years, however, relations between the central government and Mullah Mustafaas the Baathists consolidated their control of the government and as the Kurds escalated their demands for territory and oil revenues.^
renewal of fighting in4 was probably inevitable. The government was unwilling togrant the Kurds economic and political privileges (hat it denied the rest of Iraq's popul.it ion. Of particular importance was the government's refusal toensus in Kirkuk to determine the ethnic makeup of the city. The autonomy plan put forth by the Baathist government in4 granted nominal self-rule to the three provinces where the Kurdsajority, but in reality gave the Kurdsemblance of self-rule. The members of the executive and legislative councils established by the autonomy law were chosen by the government. The progovernment Kurds who were appointed as Cabinet members and as vice president were careful not to test the extent of their authority. Inyear rebellion of the Iraqi Kurds against Ihe government was effectively ended by the Algiers Accord between Iraq and Iran, whichthe ability of the Kurds to resist government efforts to pacify the Kurdish srea.J
Goternment Policies and Altitudes, The Baathlsts are determined to deny the Kurds the opportunity lo regain the capacity for Independent action. As ofhe governmentignificantpresence in the north, while at the same time il was allocating large sums for the economic and social development of the
Baghdad keeps five of itsrmy divisions in the northern provinces, as well0 police, border guard, and reserve brigade personnel. Mililary control in the traditionally Kurdish region is thorough and sometime! oppressive, especially in area* near ihe Turkish and Iranian borders. The Armyighly visible presence wilh armed camps and outposts on Ihe hilltops and soldiers in (heilometer security rone has been created along the border with Iran and Turkey in which the regime has destroyed villages and forcibly relocated largeof villagers to less sensitive areas in the north. In areas away from the border regions and outside the difficult mountain terrain, the Iraqi military presence is more discreet, and village life appears to be normal;
Iraq became increasingly concerned in the spring9 about the possible resurgence of dissident activity following reports of Kurdish unrest in Iran and Turkey. Throughraq and Iran had conducted joint military operations aimed ation of the border. Baghdad's concern about the increased availability of arms in the area, the lack of border controls in Iran, and "hot pursuit" of Kurdish insurgents led to Ihe overflight of Iran's border and bombing of Iranian villages in June. Baghdad has warned Tehran about abrogating the Algiers Accord
, InmH Jot ntotair4 Kar4i.
offering aid Io Iraqi Kurds, Iraq is pressing Turkey for cstablishmcniora frcc-fire rone on Ihe Turkish side of ihc border similar lo the strip in
The government has tempered its threats to use military force and other repressive tactics with offers ofamnoty and promises of generous economic and agrarian reform. Inn an act dearly aimed at the Kurds, the government announced an amnesty for all political exiles living abroad. In9 an unknown number of Kurds who had fled to Iran3 were allowed to return. Most of the Kurds resettled in the south after the end of the civil war have been permitted to return north, although not to their traditional villages. Instead, they are being "encouraged" to settle in small groups in newly constructed reservations scattered throughout Ihe north. Families of missing Pesh Merga fighters or suspected saboteurs apparently remain in enforced eiile either in the south of Iraq or in Iran.
government announced thatercent9 developmentmoree spent on programs in ihc ihrcc Kurdish provinces. The largest share ofthe money,ercent, will be allocated for ihe improvement of transportation and communications, necessary for military operations as well as civilian use. Education received the smallest allocation,ercent. Baghdad also has been promoting lourism in the region and building extensive resort facilities, hoping eventually to tic Kurdish economic interests to lourism and continued stability.
Baghdad has tried oscr ihe post several year* to contact representatives ofthe Barzani and Tajabuni factions in order toeconciliation!
government also isassive economic investment in the north.rip by Saddam Husayn to Sulaymaniyah and Irbil in late March, the
Kurdish nationalists were concerned last year by the government'son thatercent of all instruction
in Kurdish schools, excluding language training, be given in Arabic Although Baghdad argued that the purpose of the reform was toalanced educational program. Kurdish nationallits saw the moveurther attempt by Baghdad tothe Kurdish homeland^
Although .some escalation of guerrilla activity was evident In9 and small clashes were occurring almost daily inetween Iraqi Army patrolsKurdish guerrillas, there was no major upsurge of dissident activity. Continued guerrilla activity, how-ever, has exacerbated government Tears of outside meddling. Kurdish guerrillas mount hit-ond-mnagainst isolated Army units, but lighting between the various Kurdish factions. diTficulty in maintaining supply routes, and intense government military pressure have weakened their obility to strike effectively at government forces. The freedom of action the Kurds have acquired in Iran and their access to large stocks of weapons seized from Iranian Army garrisons could pose problems for Baghdad in the future. [
iin- and Leaders. As oThe Kurdish nationalist movement in Iraq wai inleaders in exile, its Tactions badly spilt, its organizations virtually nonexistent. Attempts by
rival leaders to patch over their differences andommon front against the Iraqi Government have failed. Instead, factions loyal to the Barzani family and those loyal to Jalal Talabani continue to accuse each other of signing secret agreements with Baghdad or Tehran aimed at the liquidation of the
Events in Iran and the death of Mullah Mustafa Barzani apparently have done little to improveions between the disparate Kurdish factions,^
exile in the United
e had only minimal contact with his former Pesh Merga fighters and ihc kdp. Before his deatharzani apparently recognized thai the Kurds had few options and was considering easing his demands.]-
Several contenders areo replace Barzani.Masud and Idris claim leadcrshipof whatthe kdp and of the exile communities in Iran* -
Talabani and ihc Bju.uiii' have made several attempts at unifying their forces lo Tight the common Iraqi nemy, but these efforts have all failed. In7 Talabani and Masud Barzani signed an agreement pledging to join forces. Orchestrated by the Syrians and entered into reluctantly by ihe Barzanis. the agreement was never Implemented. The Barzanis objected in particular toenchant forurban terrorism. Within sis months, the two factions were fighting each other again,
A third contender for the leadership of the IraqiMahmud Abdemerged in the past several months and appears to beid for leadership of Kurdish dissidents.
In Ihc corly days of the Turkish Republic, the government responded to Kurdish protests against Ataturk's modernizing and centralizing reforms by ruthlessly suppressing all aniigovcrnrncni activity and by attempting, albeit unsuccessfully, to eliminate all manifestations of Kurdish culture and nationalism. With the adventultiparty democracy in the, however, the governmentolicy of attempting lo co-opt ihe Kurdish minority. Since then. Kurdish leaders, particularly the wealthy landlords and religious leaders, have been recruited into the ruling elite. Ferit Melcn. on interim prime mmisicr in the; Deputy Prime Minister Hikmetne of Eccvit's close advisers; and Komrnnntil recently the number two man in the opposition Justice Party, arc Kurds. As ofhe legislature included aboulurdish deputies, led by independent Minister of Public Works Serafcliin Elci; this group generally supports Prime Minister Bulent Eccvit.j |
The resurgence of Kurdish separatist sentiment in Iran and persistent Kurdish unrest in Iraq have helped to revive fcari among Turkey's leaders lhat Turkish Kurds may follow suit. Even limited Kurdish unrest while the country is beset by deepening economic and internal security crises, mifliiest for the Ecevit government and for Turkey's democratic Institutions.
Policies and Altitudes, Ankara's concern over the Kurdish problem has been highlightedumber of developments:
Ankara's efforts to assure the loyalty of individual Kurds have not been matched by any comparable development effort in the Kurdish region. Although data are sketchy, one Turkish publication claims that ibe eastern provinces hive received onlyercent of state industrial investment andercent of all commercial Investments. Public services such asand education facilities are thinly spread among the larger cities. Unemployment is above the nationnl average oferceni, illiteracy in Turkish among Kurds Iserceni, and such amenities as electricity, piped water, and passable roads arc lacking in more lhan half the villages. Although this neglect can be explained in large port by the remote and inhospitable nature of the Kurdish region, il is aho aiiribuiable to the continued hostility between Turks and Kurds. Educated Turks are reluctant io live and work in such "alien" rural areas. The mosl conspicuous symbol of ihe Turkish Government, the Army, has at limes been viewed by the Kurdscolonial" occupation force.
The taboo aguinit public and official discussion of the sensitive Kurdish issue has dissipated in the past few years. Newspapers, perhaps spurred by events in Iran, have been less hesitant to acknowledge that Kurds exist and to discuss their livinj conditions. At the height of public concern about Kurdish separatism last April, six ministers look ihe unprecedented step of accusing Minister of Public Works Scrofetlin Elci of having Communist sympathies and stacking hiswith Kurds. Elciublic controversy when he openly declaredurdeated exchangeeporter. Responding to pressElci insitied thai acknowledging the existence of Kurds in Turkey was nol tantamount lo promoting seporatismp |
Persistence of Kurdish Separatism. The Kurds' sense of separate identity has nol been significantly reduced by the government's attempts to co-opt or suppress them. The Kurdish lunguagc has flourished, and clandestinely published Kurdish literature itobtainable in Kurdish areas. Kurdish leaders, rearing that development and modernization would undermine the highly traditional social structure and thereby their own positions, have often been unrcccptivo to Ankara's efforts lo extend aid to the Kurdish regions. Kurdish notables reportedly often deliver the votes of their followers io politicians In return for pledges of noninterference in local affairs. Urbanization is taking place, however, and il has somcwhai weakened to some extent ihe hold of traditional leaders. Nationalist Kurdish sentiment now seems strongest among politicized urban Kurdish youth, many of whom are educated
In the past several years, several overt "cultural associations" and coven liberation group* have formed to promote Ihe idea of Kurdish autonomy andThe appearance of these groups broadly parallels the growth of Turkish radical leftist student groups that appeared in the. These radicals often included demands for greater Kurdish autonomy in their programs, and until the Kurds began to form their own associations. Kurds were prominent in these
organizatloni, Mahlr Cayan, ihe moil promineni martyr of the Turkish left after he was killed by fovernment forcesurd. Because avowedly Kurdish organizations are still Illegal, tbe overt radical groups feature noncthnic names such as the Revolutionary Democratic Cultural Association and the Revolutionary People's LiberationThey Insist that they are Interested mainly in social progress and Turkish recognition of long-denied Kurdish cultural rights.
The driving forces for Kurdish nationalism, however, suffer from the same factionalism that has weakened their Turkish counterparts. The cultural associations have small memberships, and ihc illegal groups, though dominated by urbanized young Kurds, do not seem populor even in the larger eastern towns. This probably resultseneration and cultural gap between youthful, educated Kurds and the more conservative and tradition-bound majority led by coupled elites. The activist groups themselves,have long Quarreled over whether lo remain separate from other Turkish radical groups and seek independence or to cooperate with the TurkishIn it* "buttle against capitalism"eans of ultimately achieving Kurdish autonomyurkish steta(_
Kurds in Turkey hove shown little inclination
to collaborate politically with their Kurdish neighbors in Iran and Iraq. Tribal loyalties appear to he more important than ethnic ties. The warring Talabani and Barzani factions in Iraq, for example, have been aided by some Turkish Kurds and opposed by others during their skirmishes in Turkish border areas. Laneuage differences may partly explain this lack of cooperation. Although approximately half of all Kurds speak the Kurmanji dialect, in Turkey only the Kurds of Hakkarl Province speak this dialect. | |
Relations between the Syrian Gmernmeni and the Kurdish minority have not been marked by the hostility and conflict lhat have characterized relations between the Kurds and the Governments of Iraq and Iran. Since Syria was granted its independence by Francehere has been little significant antigovcrnment activity Involving the Kurds.Syrian authorities have feared thot unrest among Kurds elsewhere could spread to Syria. During times of major K'irdlih unrest in Iraq, for example,has kept close watch on its own Kurds. Moreover, from time to time. Kurdish nationalist leaders have been arrested in government moves against theThe government's sensitivity io Kurdish involvement in Communist activities is not altogether unfounded since the founder and leader ofthe pro-Soviet, legal Syrian Communist Party (see) Khalid Bnkdnsh,urd, and the see hns long recruited heavily from the Kurdish minority.^
In recent years, the Kurdish minority has participated relatively actively in Syrian politics. Some of Syria's most distinguished leaders have been Kurds, including two past Presidents, Husni al-Za'im and Abid al-Shishakli. Under President Assad, himsctfaof the Alawltc minority, ihe status of most minority groups in Syria generally has been quite good.
Most Syrian Kurds arc distrustful of central authority, and their loyally to their tribe Is probably stronger than their loyalty either to the Syrian state orurdish nation. Relatively peaceful residence in Syria and gradual assimilation, however, have mitigated their distrust of the Syrian authorities. Damascus, moreover, has encouraged Arab settlement in the northeast to weaken the Kurdish hold on the area. In ihe last two years, however, there has been ainflux of Kurds into northern Syria from Iraq. These Kurds are less assimilated than those long resident In Syria
The kdp has been banned in Syria for
the influx of Kurds from Iraq was exacerbating Arab-Kurdish tensions in the northeast, but there is no sign that the problem has become serious. There are no local Kurdish parties or any prominent Kurdish political leaders who espouse Kurdish nationalism In Syrla.l
ore pro-Soviet regime. As partong-term' effort to undermine the government and promote leftist prospects, they have supported Ihc Tudeh Parly's efforts tonited frontleftist parties and to infiltrate Khomeini's forces!
the8 Syrian-Iraqi rapprochement. Syria provided support to dissident Kurds in Iraq led by Jolal Talabani. Talabani received arms and his followers were trained ol bases in northeastern Syria. After the conclusion of the Charter for Joint National Action between Syria and Iraq inyria's support for Talabani ceased, and he was expelled from S> ria. Although the Syrians probably can still contact .Talabani if they should desire to renew thethere is no indication they arc currently providing support to Kuidish dissidents in cither Iraq, Turkey, or Iran. There is also no indication that Syrian Kurds acting independently of the government are supporting their compatriots.Q
Attitudes and Policies Toward Kurds In Neighboring States. The possibility of Soviet manipulation of their Kurdish minorities hasatter of serious concern for the Governments of Iran, Turkey, and Iraq. The Soviets would certainly like lo make use of the Kurds in neighboring slates to advance their own objectives in theto put pressure on regimes that have adopted anti-Soviet positions. Soviet Inclinations lo directly support Kurdish minorities in other countries, however, are inhibitedesire not to push these states loo far and thus risk serious damage to bilateral relations. Tunneling assistance indirectly to Kurdish minorities through third parties, however,empting and very real option for the Soviets.
In Iraa. the Soviets have sought to aovance their relations with the Khomeini-backed regime in order to preserve their economic assets there, encourage continuation of the government's anti-US policies, and prevent repression of leftist elements within ihe country, especially those that ore pro-Soviet. At the same time, they would like to encourage ihe emergence
Before the fall of ihe Shah, there hed been little indication of Soviet involvement with theovement within Iran in recentreflecting the Soviet perception that the government's control of the Kurds was virtually complete and that efforts lo meddle would antagonize the Shnh. With the upsurge in activity among Iran's Kurds in recent months, facilitated by Ihc breakdown in Iranian control of movement in the border areas, the Soviets hove probably been tempted toore active role.
' The Sovietilesr dlitlnctlon between the nletIiIinaieH dnlrei of minority irour* feeutonomy and what (hey termlenaratlit" dtnundL This reflect* their own lilmi to hive granted inch autonomy to many or theirelleilr* not to provide any openlm lo theae iroup* to make enaratlit clalmi.|
Iraq.Soviet support for the Kurdish cause has fluctuated over the years in inverse relation to Soviet success in courting the central government inDuring the. Moscow vigorously supported Kurdish autonomy in Iraq. And. in the, the Soviets tried to mediate between the Kurds and the Baaihist regime with which they were building close ties. Wiih ihe collapse of negotiations between the Kurds and the Baaihist regime4 and the renewal of fighting, the Soviets gave their full support to Bsghdnd. This decision was madeime when the USSR saw Its overall position in the Middle Easi deteriorating: Egypt had turned io ihe United States, and olher Arab stales (including Iraq) wereoriented economically toward the West. The Soviets, clearly anilout not to lose Iraq's friendship and eager lo sell arms for hard currency, presumably had little difficulty making the choice.
Since the Algiers Accord ofhich effectively ended the Kurdish war In Iraq. Soviet-Iraqi relations have deteriorated steadily, although the mutually beneficial arms relationship has been main-tained. The Soviets have resented Iraq's improved relations with both Iron and Saudi Arabia and have been unhappy aboul Iraq's turn to theor arms as well as civilian technology. In addition, they have been frustrated by the Baathisi disregard for and repression
because the fi-cu* of Kurdish activities has *hiflcd to Iran, where there arc new opportunities. It may also reflect Soviet sensitivity to ihe dsmage already done to relations with Iraqesire nut to foster further strains or provoke increased repression of Iraqi Communists. I
In Turkey, direct Soviet involvement in the Kurdish movement is precluded by Moscow's desire to maintain good relations with Ankara. Early this year, an advocate ofthe Kurdish Shia cause was rebuffed by both the Soviet and Bulgarian Embassies in Ankara in
hi* search Toroviet Embassy officer explained to him that the USSR feared jeopardizing Its primary goats of expanding trade with Turkey and unifying the Turkish leftro-Moscow line.
Turkish Government officials maintain, nevertheless, that the Soviets arc providing Kurdish dissidents with arms, military training, and financial assistance. They claim that caches of Soviet-made weapons have been discovered in eastern Turkey and that arms are being smuggled acrcts the Syrian, Iranian, and Soviet borders. Undetected border crossings from the USSR^ Into Turkey could be accomplished fairly cnsllyj
levcrthelcss. Moscow no doubt wants to avoid
alienating any political groupings with which it might have to deal in the future!
The Soviet Kurds enjoy the useomparatively large number of cultural Institutions, reflecting the importance the Soviet regime attaches to its Kurdish minorityotential foreign policy asset. Kurdish is taught In the schools in Kurdish villages. Thereurdish newspaper, Rla Tata, published In Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, and there is some radio programing in Kurdish. The center for Kurdish studies In Yerevan, the only such center In the USSR, offers courses In Kurdish languugc and culture and publishes in Kurdish periodicals and works of Kurdish poets and writers, some of whomeputation in Kurdish communities abroad, One of the main purposes of the center Is to support Soviet claims lhat the Kurds in the
Soviet Union enjoy cultural facilities thai are not
available to those in other parts ofthe Middle Easti
The regime has little reason lo fear that its policy of fostering Kurdish national consciousness abroad will encourage troublesome pan-Kurdish sentiments at home. The number of Kurds In the Soviet Union is small, and the regime can count on the more urbanized and educated Armenian majority to act as ainfluence The Armenians are unlikely to forget the Turkish massacre, in which the Kurdsart, and Moscow on occasion has had to warn the Armenians noi to discriminate against the Kurdish minorily.|
Toward Kurds In the Soviet Union. The small number of Kurds in the USSR, estimated9 or lessercent ofthe total Kurdish population,asis for the Soviet claim to an Interest in the Kurdish question. Most oftheurds live in scattered communities in the Transcaucasus, and many, particularly those in cities, are gradually becoming Integrated Into the dominant cultures of the region. (
The vast majority of Soviet Kurds speak Kurdish asheir native language, but knowledge of Russian nnd other languages of the area is becoming widespread. In Azerbaidzhan, for instance, the older generations speak Kurdish, but the younger peopleneak only Azcrbaidzhani or Russian. The most concentrated settlements of Kurds arc In Armenia, and here the Kurds have preserved their traditional way of life and Kurdish cultural traditions are strong.P
The collapse of the Shah's regime ard the assumption of dc facto control by the Kurds in much of the predominantly Kurdish areas of Iran have raised aspirations for greater autonomy not only among Iranian Kurds but also among the Kurds ofTurkey and Iraq, To nl least some degree, rclnlions between the Kurds and the governments of the other stales in which ihcy live will be determined by the course of events in Iran, Ifthc central government in Tehran Is able, through negotiation and compromise, lo reestablish its authority over the areas under Kurdish control, the prospect for continued peace between the Kurdish minorities and the otherof the area will be enhanced. If. on the other hand. Tehran Is compelled lo use force. Ihc resulting conflict could spill over national borders and involve the Kurds in neighboring stales. |^
The relationship between the Kurds in Iran nnd the Tehran government will dependarge extent on each side's interpretation of the balance struckminority rights and central control under the constitution now under consideration. Government and religious leaders do not want to grant the minorities rights that could threaten national cohesion; on the other hand, they want to reach an accommodation that will keep the minorities quiet. The Kurds, for their part, do not want to lose the benefits of Iran's oil wealth; at the same time they are unwilling to give up the de facto autonomy they have established, and individual leaders want freedom to compete with their rivals for political influence in Kurdistan. Q
Full-scale conflict belwehe Kurds and thegovernment inoes not seem likely in the near term, althoughcmpt by the novcrnmcm to extend its control in the Kurdish rcgued to serious clashes in late July. There is little prospect that the government will soon be able to rebuild the military or develop its irregular forces to the level needed to reestablish its authority in the Kurdish areas. For Ihcir part. Kurdish leaders do not seem prepared for an all-out effort to remove the remaining centralpresence in the area. Moreover, the local population, despite Its strong ethnoccntrism. is unlikely torotracted armed struggle in its towns nnd villages!"
If they chose, Ihe Kurds, even hampered by their disunity, could carry oui sustained dissident activity and disrupt Iranian overland trade to Europe and the USSR. The Kurds' challenge to central control would grow more serious if most of the Kurdish tribes were willingooperate Longstanding religious, tribal, and personal rivalries among the Kurds, however, seem to have been only temporarily smoothed over by the revolution and the local autonomy they now enjoy. These differences probably will reappear and may even be intensified as the various leaders try to exploit their new relationship with the central government. The most serious liability facing the Kurds, however, is their lack of continued, substantialopen or0 neighboring government such as that provided by Ihe Shah to the Iraqi Kurdseither Iraq, Turkey, nor the USSR is
likely to playole; the USSR would provide such support only if Moscow decided lhat its besi interests would be served by trying to topple the Khomeini regime and replace ileftist govcrn-ment J-
As long as the present unstable situation exists, ihc central government and Iran's Kurdish leaders will carefully monitor each other's activities. At tt" same time, the leaders of the various Kurdish factions can be expected to compcle actively for influence among their fellow tribesmen. Relatively minor incidents or miscalculations could cause armedof which could beKurdish and central government forces, dissident and pro-Khomeini Kurds, and supporters of rival tribal leaders.^
In Turkey, the government would ficrcc'y resist any attempt by ihe Kurdish minority to gain greater political autonomy, although it might grudgingly concede the Kurds greater frceoom to express their cultural heritage. The Kurds arc aware lhat the government has large army and security forcesin the provinces and is capable ofhem quickly. The most important deterrent to Ihc realization of the desire of the Turkish Kurds for greater autonomy, however, is ihc absenceingle; leader capable ofuniling Ihe disparate Kurdish groups. Many important Kurdish leaders have been co-opted' or intimidated, while Kurdish lenders active in Turkish politics often hold opposing political views.! 1
Nevertheless, the Kurds in Turkey will remainlo separatist and pan-Kurdish sentiment as long as Ankara fails toem into Turkish society. Turkish Kurds could be encouraged to defy Ankara if Iranian Kurdsreater degree ofrom the new Iranian regime or if ihc governmentnkara fails to come lo grips with Turkey's staggering economic and political problems^
The ability of the Iraqi Kurdsffectively opposethe desire not to damage relations withmilitary depends on the Elaghdadand Iraq probably will continue to deterpolitical strength and external support forUnion from directly aiding Kurdishfrom Iron or other countries. As ofthose states, Moscow will probably maintainhas not been sufficiently distracted byselected Kurdish groups and mayin Iran or potential problems withthem through third parties. In Iran,south to shift its attention or Its troops awaysupport for the Kurds serves to fosternorth. The government is unlikely tnwhich may eventually produce amore than the token autonomy it hasleftist regime. In Iraq, such onthe three Kurdish provinces1tl eserves to put pressureegime thatIraqighly centralized pw-iticalindependent and anti-Soviet. At astructure with no room forSoviet support for Kurdish culturalenvisioned by Kurdish nationalists. At best,the USSR and expressions of sympathymay beider role throughKurdisii requests for local autonomyexisting mechanisms of the executiveto remind the states involved that thecouncils, They will not be accordedthe capability'to encourage dissensionprivileges denied the rest of the population.minorities.
Kurds, however, are likely to regard as acceptable the narrowly defined political autonomy offered byovernment. That majority probably does notilitary solution to the problem of assimilation and Is unsure that the alternativesaaihist Government would improve conditions for the Kurds of
There is little chance thai the Syrian Government will grant the Kurds more autonomy In the future. There is little pressure from the Kurds themselves to do so. and the government would be reticent about providing any minority group autonomy for fear that others, like the Druze, would demand similar treatment,!