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By Dale Lightfoot

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The boundaries we know today were created Iraq Through Time from the fragments of the Turkish Ottoman Empire, after the Turks were defeated in World War I. European powers drew boundaries to geographically define the territories they inherited from the Turks. The territories of the Middle East had never before known fixed boundaries. They had always been parts of larger empires, and territory had always shifted between competing empires. Fixed boundaries were a very new concept. The modern history of Iraq begins in the 1800s with the weakening of Ottoman rule and the rise of European influence in the Middle East.

The UN Security Council declined an Iraqi request to order the withdrawal of British troops. The moves toward Pan-Arabism and away from the West alienated and angered the Kurds. This domestic unrest was briefly settled in early 1970, when the government agreed to form an autonomous (partially independent) Kurdish region, and Kurdish ministers were added to the cabinet. This created an uneasy peace between the Kurds and the Iraqi government. In February 1963, General Kassem was overthrown and assassinated by a group of military officers, most of them members of the pan-Arab Baath Party.

Since Gulf War II (2003), the Kurdish people have been walking a fine line between openly breaking from Iraq and maneuvering for greater autonomy (self-government) within a federal Iraq. The new system of government in Iraq does not give the Kurds an independent state but does grant themmuch autonomy. ” Maps of Kurdistan showing all the Kurdish lands are sold in shops, and the flag of Kurdistan flies in public places. Kurdish cities are referred to by their Kurdish names, not their Arabic names (where there is a difference), and these names are printed on maps, city signs, and airports.

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