Ethnicity in Modern Mesopotamia

As I understand it, the Kurds are an ethnic group that is fairly scattered throughout the Middle East. I know their roots as a distinct culture go back many centuries – Saladin is said to have been a Kurd.

There has been much in the news about the rift that separates the Kurds in Iraq from the Shiite and Sunni population. My first question is whether this rift is purely cultural (Kurdish vs. Arab, for example), or do the Kurds also have their own Islamic sect?

My second question is about other ethnic distinctions within the Middle East. Is there, for example, any separation between Arabs and those of Persian descent in Iran?

Being the product of a thoroughly Western education, my knowledge of Mesopotamian history goes little further than the death of Cleopatra.

Oh yeah. I’ve been briefed on the presence of the Israelies.

It’s cultural. Most Kurds are Sunni, some are Shi’ite. But they have their own language, their own culture, their own ethnic identity, etc.

As for Arabs in Iran, they make up about 3% of the population, mostly live in the province of Khuzestan, with some along the gulf, and are pretty well assimilated into Iranian life.

And, btw, Cleopatra never went to Mesopotamia…:slight_smile:

:smack: Good point.

Though her grandfather Mithridates ruled a kingdom a bit closer to that neighborhood.

The Kurds are an Iranic people, linguistically quite different from the main Iraqi population. It should also be noted that there is a moderately large Azerbaijani population in the northern hills of Iraq. Both groups overlap into Iran.

(From the relevant entries at