Middle East Encyclopedia

Encyclopedia of the Middle East


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Kurdistan - 1. A region comprising parts of Northern Iran, Iraq and Eastern Turkey that is inhabited by Kurds and is sometimes claimed as a Kurdish state. The map shows approximate borders of this area (the light area in the center), which does not encompass all regions with a large Kurdish population. Most maps would also include Erzurum and parts of Armenia. 

2. The autonomous Kurdistan region promised by the allies and incorporated in the treaty of Sevres after WW I, but never implemented.

3. The Kingdom of Kurdistan established in Iraq from 1922 to 1924.

4. The Kingdom of Kurdistan established in Turkey by Sheikh Said Piran briefly in 1924 and 1925.

5. Any of the autonomous Kurdistan regions established or promised at different times by the Iranian, Iraqi or Turkish governments.

6. The Iraqi Federal Republic Regional Governorate of Kurdistan, established after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. 

Synonyms and alternate spellings:

Further Information: Kurds

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Encyclopedia of the Middle East

Note - This encyclopedia is a work in progress. It is far from complete and is being constructed and improved all the time. If you would like to contribute articles or expansions of existing articles, please contact news (at) mideastweb.org.  Suggestions and corrections are welcome. The concise version of this dictionary is at our Middle East Glossary.

Spelling - Spelling of words in Middle-Eastern languages is often arbitrary. There may be many variants of the same name or word such as Hezbollah, Hizbolla, Hisbolla or Husayn and Hussein. There are some conventions for converting words from Semitic languages such as Arabic and Hebrew There are numerous variant renderings of the same Arabic or Hebrew words, such as "Hizbollah," "Hisbulla" etc. It is not possible to find exact equivalents for several letters. 

Pronunciation - Arabic and Hebrew vowels are pronounced differently than in English. "o" is very short. The "a" is usually pronounced like the "a" in market, sometimes as the "a" in "Arafat."  The " 'A " is guttural.  " 'H "- the 'het ('Hirbeh, 'Hebron, 'Hisbollah') designates a sound somewhat similar to the ch in "loch" in Scots pronunciation, but made by touching the back of your tongue to the roof of your mouth. The CH should be pronounced like Loch, a more assertive consonant than 'het.

The "Gh" combination, and sometimes the "G," designate a deep guttural sound that Westerners may hear approximately as "r." The "r" sound is always formed with the back of the tongue, and is not like the English "r."

More information: Hebrew, Arabic

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