Compared to other ethnic groups in the middle east, are Kurds hostile towards the west (Australia in particular)?

I don't mean annoyed or disappointed or exasperated by the west's betrayal or lack of support or supplying of arms to those oppressing them, but hostile enough to actively want to harm the west through violence or other means.

I was under the impression that Kurds have faced oppression by the Turkish government, by Arab governments (such as Saddam-era Iraq) and Arab militias (such as IS), and by the Iranian government, and that during the American occupation of Iraq, the Kurds were less anti-US than the other parts.

  • An odd question since the Kurds overall have a reputation for pragmatism and embracing western political ideas.
    – Colin
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 0:31
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    "Kurds" may be dangerously general on occasion. If we are t believe "the authorities", a group of Kurdish 'terrorists', based in Auckland, New Zealand (where I live), planned to "blow up" the Lucas Heights nuclear research reactor in Sydney, during the Sydney Australia Olympics. We are told that the plot was foiled and the 'cell' members in Auckland arrested prior to the Olympics. And, after all, why wouldn't we believe such a report? :-) -> Sounds hostile to the west. These are not "The Kurds" you are looking for. Nothing to see here. Move along. Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 8:41
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    You also may not mean "Kurds" running 'terrorist' training camps in Australia at one stage. Also arrested befoe they could do whatever it is that non-Western hostile Kurdish terrorists do. (In that case they may have been aiming for people far away). Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 8:43

4 Answers 4


It really depends. You have to remember that politically the Kurdish people are divided between the states of Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey, and each segment of the Kurdish population has diverged slightly. While the Kurds in Syria are fighting ISIS and are proving to be much more reliable to the US than the Iraqi Army, the PKK, which is the communist Kurdistan Worker's Party are listed as a terror group by the US Department of State. You also have to take into consideration the historical ties the United States of America have with the Kurds, many who considered us liberators during the invasion of Iraq became disappointed when the USA didn't go along with their idea of a sovereign Kurdish nation.

There's also Turkey, which is a member of NATO and a key player in the region, that obviously doesn't want the Kurds to separate from them. Our relationship with the Turks greatly complicates our willingness to, for example, arm the Kurds as they fight in Syria.

The Kurds are also seen as more secular and more western in values than any of their neighboring culture groups, especially with how they allow women more rights than almost any country they inhabit.

If I had to give it a yes or no? I'd say no, they aren't hostile to the west in a broad sense.


It is all relative, but Kurds are probably less anti-Western than many other groups in the region.

This is despite the fact that their hopes and dreams for a sovereign Kurdish nation (Kurds are divided between Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran and not treated very well in any of them by the official regimes of those countries nor by ISIS) have been rebuffed by the West.

It is also despite the fact that their movement is considered a terrorist insurgency with little or no political clout in Turkey (which is a part of the Western coalition despite not being fully "Western" itself) where many Kurds live.

Both of these factors would give Kurds reason to bear ill will towards the West, but the Kurds seem to bear less ill will towards the Western coalition, which they are a part of, than other communities of people in the region. If anything, they have shown more commitment to the Western coalition's cause than its Western members have in recent years.

  • Kurds speak an Indo-European language (as do most people in Western countries), while all other groups in the region speak Turkish or a Semitic language. This doesn't necessarily mean much but is suggestive of stronger deep cultural connections to the West than other communities in the region.

  • Kurds are Muslims (formally, mostly Shiites, mostly in a Shiite sect, the Alevi, that retains some residual Central Asian and Persian cultural influences arguably dating back to pagan days), that interpret the Islamic tradition differently than many Arab Muslims. Their interpretation of Islam, in particular and among other distinctive aspects, gives a higher priority to gender equality than most other Islamic religious communities in the region. Generally speaking, compared to other Muslims in the region, Kurds are "socially moderate" (which is not to say that they would not be considered "socially conservative" by Western standards) even compared to a neighboring Muslim community (non-Kurdish Turkish Muslims) that is itself one of the least conservative Muslim communities in the region.

  • The Kurdish autonomous region in Iraq is one of the most democratic governments in the Middle East, or for that matter, in any Islamic country. You'd have to go to Kosovo or the recent experience of Indonesia, to find a close rival for the quality of their democratic institutions (which is not to say that those institutions always live up to Western developed country standards for democratic systems), and they aren't known for oppressive economic policies either.

  • Kurds have been Western allies in the Iraq War and the war against ISIS.

  • Kurdish military groups have put their lives and resources on the line to protect non-Kurdish ethnic minorities in Northern Iraq and in ISIS controlled Syria, despite the overall tendency of factions in the region to care only about themselves.

I suspect that few Kurds would single out Australia from other parts of the Western coalition for more or less hostility than other members of the coalition. I am aware of no substantive reason that Australians would be singled out for disdain by Kurds from other members of the Western coalition in the region.

While this is purely speculation on my part, I suspect that they probably view Australians, if they have an opinion about them at all, mostly as Englishmen with more of a clue about how to live in their arid region than the real Englishmen do.

  • 1
    If we are to believe "the authorities", a group of Kurdish 'terrorists', based in Auckland, New Zealand (where I live), planned to "blow up" the Lucas Heights nuclear research reactor in Sydney, during the Sydney Australia Olympics. We are told that the plot was foiled and the 'cell' members in Auckland arrested prior to the Olympics. Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 8:45
  • The question asks "Compared to other ethnic groups in the middle east, are Kurds hostile towards the west (Australia in particular)?" There have been other alleged terrorist plots in Australia attributed by the authorities to members of other ethnic groups in the Middle East. Also, without knowing if their religion Alevi Shiite as is typical of Kurds in the Middle East and an important factor in their mistreatment, or was something else (e.g. if these particular Kurds were Sunni ISIL converts), it is hard to evaluate those allegations.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Oct 13, 2019 at 2:20
  • Indeed. As I noted "If we are to believe". However, the statements at the time was that the cell WAS intending to 'blow up' the Lucas Heights Nuclear Reactor. Success in that area would give them bragging rights over "members of other ethic groups". Commented Oct 13, 2019 at 9:58

I can answer this using Wikipedia, as I've seen in the past that there are articles on relationships between countries.

Currently United States has official policy towards the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq. US Kurdish policy starting initially with "contacts" to a covert "relationship" and finally to an overt "institutionalized relationship" embodied in an official US Kurdish policy. The change of US interaction with the Kurds from humanitarian assistance to strategic partnership as a non-state ally and an asset is testimony to the enhanced role of the Kurdistan Region in the international relations of the Middle East. Deepening KRG–US economic relations was supported by establishment of the United States Kurdistan Business Council (USKBC) in April 2012. In the same month President of Kurdistan Region, President Masud Barzani, visited Washington, D.C. and met with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

Consulate General of the United States in Erbil was established in July 2011. Iraqi Kurdistan have representative office in the United States from February 2007.

The UK is providing some military equipment including heavy machine guns and training.

Consulate General of the United Kingdom in Erbil was established in January 2007. Iraqi Kurdistan have representative office in the United Kingdom in London.

I've never been to Kurdistan nor know anyone who's been there, but I would imagine they would get some of the same anti-West sentiment that exists in the Middle East. But as they're currently being supported by them, I imagine they will at the very least not bite the hand that feeds. Beyond anything else, they have far bigger things to worry about. They can use whatever support they can get.

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    Note that the Kurds were first 1) attacked with chemical weapons built for Saddam by Western firms (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…), 2) used as another motive to attack Saddam when it suited the USA and, when they revolted 3) been left to their fate under Saddam's rule for fear of angering Turkey who does not want an independent Kurdish state. I bet they do not consider the Western countries the most loyal of the allies.
    – SJuan76
    Commented Oct 6, 2015 at 0:42
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    Let's not put words in their mouths. I for one don't know how they feel about it, and unless you live there or know anyone who does, neither do you. All we can say for certain is how the country has acted as a whole. Commented Oct 6, 2015 at 7:46


Kurds - both as a variegated ethnic group nor as political movements identifying as Kurdish or Kurdish-focused - are not hostile to the West.

That is not to say the might not be hostile to Western intervention in the Middle East, and some of them are hostile to Capitalism, which developed in the "West" and which "Western" countries mostly promote.

Actually, one could well argue that no ethnic group is hostile to the West - despite certain allusions by the European or US right-wing media and politicians that the [Arabs/Russians/Japanese/Insert demonized group-of-the-day here] are out to get you somehow:

"Hello, Death to the West" enter image description here

Caveat: There is the small Kurdistan Islamic Union in Iraqi Kurdistan, which may or may not harbor general hostility to the West, as an exception to the above statement about political groups. But they're quite small.


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