Whether it's Bosnia or Chechnya, we're becoming increasingly aware of conflicts involving the Muslim world. Reports on the tensions in the Middle East and Central Asia also frequently mention the Kurds. There is much going on in the Islamic world that bears prophetic implications for the Biblically sensitive observer.
A People Without a Country
The Kurds live in contiguous areas of Iran, Iraq, and Turkey, with a dream of forming their own independent country of Kurdistan ("Land of the Kurds"). They number approximately 10 million, including those in Armenia and Syria. They have a traditional reputation for military prowess and have been successful mercenaries and professional soldiers in many armies. Saladin, the famed Kurdish warrior of the 12th century, fought against Richard I of England in the Third Crusade and created the Ayy'bid Dynasty of Egypt (1169-1250 a.d.). Earlier there had been brief Kurdish dynasties in the 10th and 12th centuries.
The Kurds are a growing problem in the Muslim world, having suffered a tradition of abuse and disenfranchisement in each of the countries they have resided.
Kurdish nationalism has been reflected in frequent uprisings against the Ottoman and Persian governments. After World War I, the Treaty of S'vres (1920) provided for an autonomous Kurdistan, but that treaty was never ratified. Uprisings in Iraq and in Iran have continued, and the indigenous Kurdish population has continued in refugee/guerilla status through out the region.
The Kurds in Iran
The Kurds appear to have descended from the Medes of ancient history who joined with the Persians and conquered Babylon in 539 b.c. This Medo-Persian Empire was the second of the four great empires predicted in the visions of Daniel Chapters 2 and 7. The Medes, an Indo-European people, settled in the plateau land of northeastern Iran as early as the 17th century b.c. The ancient country of Media had their capital city at Ecbatana (modern Hamadan).
Cyrus II ("the Great") was part Persian and part Mede: His mother was Mandane, a daughter of Astyages, king of Media (585- 550 b.c.). When his father, Cambyses I, died in 559 b.c., Cyrus inherited the throne of Ansan and, after unifying the Persian people, he captured his father-in-law Astyages, took the capital city of Ecbatana, and welded the Persians (with the Medes as honored but subservient subjects) into a unified nation. His capture of Babylon is detailed in Daniel Chapter 5. The Medes disappear from history to re-emerge as the mountain people known today as the Kurds.
The president of Iran, Hashimir Rafsanjani, has announced his "Grand Design" to unite the Islamic World into an Islamic Crescent.1 Now in possession of nuclear weapons, their agenda cannot be ignored.
The Kurds in Turkey
Turkey, too, is struggling with a militant Kurdish population, and is annoyed with Syria not honoring their agreement to liquidate the Kurdish rebel bases in Lebanon and Syria. Israel has also opposed helping Turkey's actions against the Kurdish rebels, and this is presently a barrier to better cooperation between the intelligence services of the two countries.2
The Kurds in Iraq
The Kurds comprise approximately 18% of Iraq's population. Iraq created an administrative district called Kurdistan in 1974, comprising three northwestern governorates of Iraq that border Turkey to the north and Iran to the east.
Saddam Hussein has continued to oppress the Kurds in Iraq, even using chemical weapons against their civilian population in recent years. (No wonder the Kurds will enthusiastically participate in the ultimate destruction of Babylon.)
Their Prophetic Destiny
The ultimate destruction of Babylon is prophesied in Isaiah 13 & 14 and Jeremiah 50 and 51. Isaiah 13:17 alludes to "the Medes" as participants in Babylon's destruction, (and this is one of the reasons some scholars have assumed that this refers to the fall of Babylon in 539 b.c.). However, both Isaiah and Jeremiah describe a destruction "like Sodom and Gomorrah," and after which it is never to be inhabited, etc., all of which is yet future and appears as a climactic event in the Book of Revelation.