Essay Example on Kurds: The 4th Largest Ethnic Group in Middle East

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1848 Words
Date:  2022-12-27


The Kurds are one of the indigenous groups of people who occupy the Mesopotamia plains as well as the highlands of which are currently referred as northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey, northern Iraq, southwest Armenia, and northwestern Iran.

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Moreover, between twenty-four to thirty-five Kurds inhabit various mountains regions spreading along the borders of Iraq, Turkey, Syria, and Iran. Also, they are recognized as the fourth largest ethnic group in the Middle East. However, they are yet to obtain a permanent nation-state. Today, the Kurds have formed a distinct community which is specifically united through race, language, and culture. However, the Kurds do not have the standard dialect and adhere to various creeds and religions, although a good number of them are Sunni Muslims

Kurdish is recognized as one of the languages of more than nineteen million Kurds occupies the Mesopotamia plains as well as the highlands (Hussain & Qandeel 12, 2018). The Kurdish language specifically belongs to the northern, western group of Irano- Aryan languages, historically has never had the opportunity to become unified. Thus its dialects are generally sub-dived into three groups with distinct similarities between them. Thus this paper will analyze the Kurdish minority and their different languages they use in the region of Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey.

Minority Group

According to (Hussain & Qandeel 7, 2018) defined a minority group as a group of individuals who due to their culture or physical characteristics are discriminated from the society in which they live for the differential as well as unequal treatment hence they regard themselves as the key objects of discrimination. Moreover, a minority group can as well be defined as a group of individuals with common characteristics or interests which differentiate them from the more majority of the population of which they reside nearby within generalized political jurisdictions (Hussain & Qandeel 7, 2018). Lastly, a minority group can as well be defined as a subordinate group of people whose members have less control or power more so over their lives than the members of a majority or dominant group (Hussain & Qandeel 7, 2018).

How a Group becomes a Minority

Minority as an ethically, culturally or racially distinct group which coexists with thus, it's a subordinate to a more dominant group. Hence, this subordinacy is the major defining traits of the minority group. However, since the minority groups are socially separated as well as segregated more so from the superior forces of the society. Also, members of the minority group normally are barred from the full involvement in the day to day activities of the society as well as from an equal share in the community's rewards(Hussain & Qandeel 10, 2018).

Characteristics of Minority Group

  • Distinguishing cultural or physical traits for instance language or the skin color;
  • Unequal treatment characterized by less power and control over their lives;
  • Characterized by high in group marriage;
  • Proper awareness of subordination as well as a strong sense of group solidarity;
  • Involuntary membership in the group since there is no personal choice.

Types of the Minority Groups


Ethnic is one of the minority groups which is specifically differentiated based on culture for instance, as language, and food(Hussain & Qandeel 18, 2018). Notably, the ethnic minority can either be characterized as black, Asian, white, Native American or American to enable a person to be both Hispanic and black.


Male gender is generally recognized as the social majority over the female gender; thus, women usually demonstrate averagely four out of five characteristics of the minority status. However, there are no in-group marriages amongst them.


These are groups of people who have religion as opposed to the dominant faith. For instance, in Iran, Iraq, turkey, and Syria Roman Catholics, Christianity is the few examples of the religious minorities groups.


It's one of the minority groups which is categorized according to common physical characteristics, for instance, the skin color(Hussain & Qandeel 19, 2018). Moreover, in Iraq, Iran, turkey, and Syria racial minority groups include Blacks, Hawaiians, black American as well as American Indians. Thus, racial groups can as well have distinctive cultural traditions.

The Kurds

Kurdish is a cover term for the largest group of closely related western Iranian dialects; this is spoken in a large contiguous area that extends from Turkey into Iraq, Iran, and Syria, with smaller groups in other countries. They are the predominantly Indo-European; thus they speak a language in the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo- European language family (OPENGIN & ERGIN 10, 2014). Moreover, the Kurdish is a group of people who are most related to the Persian but not to Turkish or Arabic. Hence most of the Kurds are Sunni Muslims.

Kurds commonly live in highlands areas of northwestern Iran, northern Iraq, eastern turkey, and as well as small parts of the northern Armenia and Syria. The Kurds generally occupy a certain area referred as the Kurdistan which is, however, not a recognized country but is subdivided into the above four countries, i.e., Syria, Iran, Iraq, and turkey in an area of 230,000 square miles (OPENGIN & ERGIN 11, 2014). However, there has been a disagreement between the authorities on the issue of the total population of the Kurds, thus giving figures ranging from fifteen to twenty-seven million. Why should there be a discrepancy regarding the number of Kurds living in these countries? For one reason, it can be difficult to determine the ethnicity, more so for a certain group of people of mixed heritage or who work/ live amongst the majority population group.

Moreover, the problems usually come as a result of the political reasons thus the government of Iraq, Turkey, Syria, and Iran usually cite a minimum number of the Kurds since they have an interest more so in downplaying the numbers of its minority population. Hence, the Kurdish citizen of the stated countries not necessarily identify themselves as Kurds due to fear of discrimination from the national government (OPENGIN & ERGIN 13, 2014). Kurds have then become refugees by simply moving from one country to the other to escape persecution or war. Thus, the number of Kurds in a certain country may differ greatly from one year to the other, making the total population of the Kurds more difficult to calculate.

However, about a half of the total number of the Kurds (seven to twelve million) live in Turkey, where they equate to more than 20% of the total Turkish population, there are approximately four to five million in Iraq, making up to 23% of the total Iraq population. Also, about seven million are in Iran which makes up to 10% of Iran's total population, and others live in Syria (OPENGIN & ERGIN 15, 2014).

History of the Kurds

During the falling of the Ottoman Empire, the Kurds groups were not issued with their state. Moreover, countries like Iran, turkey, and Iraq made an agreement aiming at not recognizing the Kurdish state as well as trying so hard to limit the spread of the Kurdish nationalism thus leading to Kurds groups rebelling ever since (OPENGIN & ERGIN 19, 2014). The Turkish government has moved ahead by denying the Kurds living in turkey any separate status. Until recently, the Kurds state were denied the freedom of speaking their language, forbidden from giving their children the Kurdish names, wear the traditional Kurdish clothing, and also the Turkish army has persistently fought against guerilla forces associated with the Kurdistan workers party.

Furthermore, the Kurds of Iraq have also engaged in a similar struggle against their government. During the tenure of Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi government was recorded to have engaged in an outright genocide against certain parts of the Kurdish population. Moreover, during the period of the Anfal Campaign, Iraq forces were recorded to have attacked rural Kurds, set fire on the Kurdish villages as well as using chemical weapons against the Kurdish civilians in 1998. During this attack, 1.5 million Kurds were left homeless; more than a hundred thousand civilians were killed and reported thousands of people fled into Turkey(OPENGIN & ERGIN 17, 2014). However, after the second gulf war in the year 2003, the Kurds have since received some autonomy in Iraq.

Also, Iran has witnessed several Kurdish revolts more so in the year 1946 and 1979. Moreover, the Syrian government has sought to 'Arabize' certain groups of Kurds as well as depriving other as citizenship thus, rendering them stateless group of people without rights. As of today, there are high numbers of Kurdish refugees living in many places which are outside and within the Middle East leading to them remaining divided by international borders as well as international political divisions (OPENGIN & ERGIN 22, 2014).

The Kurdish language

Most of the Kurds groups identify themselves as speakers of the Kurdish language. Moreover, in terms of the number of speakers, Kurdish is positioned at fourth place in the entire Middle East following Arabic, Turkish, Persian, and fortieth globally (Sheyholislami &Jaffer 12, 2010). Thus, most of their speaking areas have since have been divided amongst the four countries, for instance, Iraq, Iran, Syria, and turkey. However, due to vast policies towards the Kurdish has coupled with their socio-economic and geographical factors, contributed to the rise of particular challenges for the language for example a unified writing system. Also, lack of common standard language as well as mutual intelligibility across the main dialect groups which are commonly influenced by the multiple aspects of the superior state languages i.e. vocabulary, idioms, grammar, and sound system (Sheyholislami &Jaffer 14, 2010).

General description of the Kurdish languages

Kurdish is generally a micro-language of averagely five dialect groups consisting of the northern Kurdish (Kurmanji), Zazaki, Gorani/Hawrami, central Kurdish (Sorani), and southern Kurdish (Faili/Kirmashani/Kalhuri). Thus, these groups commonly belong to the northwestern section of Iranian languages a branch of the Indo-Iranian family recognized as the world most extensive family of languages (Sheyholislami &Jaffer 18, 2010)


Kurmanji or the northern Kurdish is the largest dialect group which is spoken by the majority of the Kurds more so in turkey totaling to appropriately ten to fifteen million, Syria approximately two million, a smaller community in Iran which is about one million, and a large number of Kurds in Iraq (1-1.5 million).

Kurmanji a language spoken by approximately 65% of all Kurds, is the only variety of Kurdish which is spoken more so in major Kurdish areas in the Middle East. On the other hand, Kurdish scribal, as well as literary culture, for instance, poetry, started in Kurmanji during the 16th century (Sheyholislami &Jaffer 15, 2010). Moreover, the Kurdish print, as well as media culture, also originated from Kurmanji, including the first periodical Kurdistan in the year 1898, the first book (Kurdish alphabet in 1909), the first radio program as well as the first satellite television.

However, Kurmanji can be divided into two major dialect groups, i.e. Badini or southeastern Kurmanji which is majorly spoken Duhok provinces in Iraq, in the Hakkiri province in turkey. The second dialect group can as well be divided into three dialects, for instance, central Kurmanji which is majorly spoken in Batman and Mardin provinces in turkey, Shingal area east of Mosul in Iraq, Heseke province in Syria (Sheyholislami &Jaffer 16, 2010). Also, western Kurmanji which is majorly spoken in the northern parts of Syria, Adiyaman and Malatya provi...

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