Kurdish groups from Iraq, Turkey, Iran and Syria will start a three-day congress on Sept. 15 aimed at forging a united political stance amid rising instability, according to the Kurdistan Regional Government.
The talks will be held in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish region in northern Iraq, according to a statement on the website of the KRG that controls the semi-autonomous area. The event will bring together 600 Kurds and 300 foreign guests, it said.
This will be the first such congress held on Kurdish territory and the first to bring together all Kurdish parties and groups from across the political spectrum, KRG spokesman Kawa Mahmoud said in a July 23 interview. The meeting is meant to unify positions of Kurds from all four nations and isn’t aimed at creating a unified, centralized leadership, he said.
A wave of unrest across the Middle East has fueled aspirations among some Kurds of forging their own state in the region they call “Kurdistan,” a land straddling the borders of eastern Turkey, northeast Syria, northern Iraq and northwestern Iran.
The Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, has been waging a war with Turkish authorities for about three decades and both sides began talks this year aimed at ending it. The conflict has left about 40,000 people dead.
Kurdish communities in Syria have taken control of their regions since the outbreak of unrest in the country in 2011. In Iran, many Kurdish political activists remain in jail.
In Iraq, Kurdish uprisings were crushed under the Arab-dominated regime of Saddam Hussein, which was ousted by a U.S.- led invasion in 2003. Since then, the Kurdistan Regional Government has cemented its control over three provinces in northern Iraq, with a president, a cabinet and a parliament as well as its own armed forces.
The region has 45 billion barrels of oil and has attracted international companies such as Chevron Corp. (CVX:US), Total SA (FP), Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM:US), DNO International ASA, Genel Energy Plc. (GENL)
To contact the reporter on this story: Nayla Razzouk in Dubai at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Voss at email@example.com