As commonly understood, and particularly espoused by Kurdish nationalists, the Kurds are by far the largest ethnic group in the world without their own nation-state. An estimated 2 to 2.5 million ethnically Kurdish people inhabit portions of Syria. There are approximately 6.5 million ethnically Kurdish people in Iraq, 7.6 million in Iran, and 16 million in Turkey. Overall, there are about 30 million Kurds in the world. In the broader context of the Kurdish nationalist struggle, this paper suggests that there is a growing bipolar hegemony for power over the control of Kurdish land and politics. Research was predicated around the question of why not all Kurdish groups pursue full independence. Standing in contrast to each other despite relatively similar goals is the Group of Communities in Kurdistan (KCK) and the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP). The KCK movement is the more diverse of the two, with its member organizations being the dominant forces of the Kurdish movement in Turkey, Syria, and Iran. Within Turkey, the KCK is represented politically through the HDP and PKK, along with the armed wing of the PKK (HPG). In Syria, KCK is represented politically through the PYD and its armed wing YPG. In Iran, the KCK is represented by PJAK and in Iraq it is represented by the PÇDK. In Syria and Turkey, KCK affiliated groups are the dominant political and militia force. The only Kurdish inhabited region where this is not the case is in the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq, which is dominated politically, economically, and militarily by the KDP and its affiliates. The two camps differ in a host of ways: the KCK espouses anti-state, anarcho-socialist sentiment while the KDP opts for establishing a traditional nation-state. The KCK has poor relations with Turkey universally, while the KDP and by extension the KRG has warm relations built off of growing economic interests. Most importantly, their end goals for Kurdish society are drastically different: KCK organization call for autonomous communities and do not advocate for a state, in direct contrast to the KDP’s long iii term goal of an independent nation-state for the Kurdish people. Despite the common enemy of Islamic State, tensions between the two camps have only increased as each looks to become the voice for the Kurdish nation.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Sadri, Houman A.


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Sciences


Political Science

Degree Program

International Relations


Orlando (Main) Campus



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date

May 2017