A guide to the Kurds and all of their confusing acronyms

Published July 12th, 2015 - 07:08 GMT
Iranian Kurdish Peshmerga members of the Kurdistan Democratic Party take part in routine military exercises in Koya in northern Iraq on Dec. 9, 2014. (AFP/File)
Iranian Kurdish Peshmerga members of the Kurdistan Democratic Party take part in routine military exercises in Koya in northern Iraq on Dec. 9, 2014. (AFP/File)

Kurdish fighters have become driving forces in offensives against Daesh (ISIS) and gained worldwide news coverage — so it's about time to learn some acronyms.

There are lots of proper nouns, and lots of confusing acronyms, that have revolved around the ethnic Kurds who have been seeking autonomy from surrounding countries, Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran.

Here's a guide to the basics.

KRG: Kurdish Regional Government. The official ruling body of autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan led by President Masoud Barzani. 

PUK: Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. The Iraqi Kurdish civil war began largely between the PUK and KDP. Now the PUK is a social democratic party in Iraqi Kurdistan that wants a republic with a parliamentary process.

KDP: Kurdistan Democratic Party. Currently a major party in Kurdistan, led by KRG's Barzani, and still a rival for the PUK.

PKK: Kurdistan Workers' Party. An opposition party still fighting for autonomy southeast of Turkey. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the US both list the group as a terrorist organization.

PYD: Democratic Union Party. Syrian political party and affiliate of the PKK. The group is banned in Syria because the country doesn't allow parties to be established on an ethnic basis.

YPG: People's Protection Units. Armed wing of the PYD. They defended Kurdish territory and began offensives against the Syrian regime three years ago.

YPJ: Women's Protection Units. The YPG's female units. They fight alongside the YPG in fights against Daesh and the Syrian government.

KNC: Kurdish National Council. A political organization in Syria composed of 15 Kurdish groups, including the KDP. The council and PYD together formed the Kurdish Supreme Committee to protect Syrian Kurdistan. 

By Hayat Norimine


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