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A History of Violence: Ethnic Group Identity and the Iraqi Kurds

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image of Iran and the Caucasus

One of the more interesting aspects of world concern during “Operation Iraqi Freedom” was how to incorporate Iraq’s Kurdish population into an American military strategy. Furthermore, as the war was winding down, and the United States and Iraq began to construct a new Iraqi state, government, and Constitutional regime, the focus shifted on what role would the Kurds play in the new government, or even if they should be included in a government. But for most policy-makers, it was unclear who were the Kurds. How were they different than the other ethnic and religious populations of Iraq and the region generally? What was their history with the Iraqi regime under Saddam Hussein? The purpose of this paper is to provide answers to these most important questions through the lens of Political Science. As Iraq continues to form its new identity, it is important to understand what constitutes the identity of one of its most prominent ethnic groups, the Kurds. In tracing and describing Kurdish ethnic attributes, it is also important to delineate the history between the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein, how Iraqi identity was constructed in opposition to Kurdish identity (often oppressing it), and to understand the tense relationship between the two, a relationship that is most aptly described as having a history of violence.

Affiliations: 1: Georgia Regents University, Augusta


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