Military Wiki
Second Kurdish–Iraqi War
Part of Iraqi-Kurdish conflict
DateApril 1974-Mid 1975
LocationIraqi Kurdistan

Iraqi Government victory

  • Iraqi government re-establishes control over Kurdistan
  • Peshmerga fighting ability mainly destroyed
  • KDP-Iraqi Cease-fire
  • PUK low-level insurgency
KDP Iraq
Commanders and leaders
Mustafa Barzani Iraq Saddam Hussein
50,000-60,000 peshmerga[1]
50,000 irregulars[1]
Total: 100,000-110,000

90,000 men[1]
1,200 tanks and armored vehicles[1]

200 aircraft[1]
(not all engaged)[1]
Casualties and losses

Kurdish claim: 2,000 killed

20,000 killed[citation needed] 150 tanks destroyed

100 planes destroyed
Total:20,000 killed[2]
600,000 displaced[3][4]

Second Kurdish–Iraqi War[5] was the second chapter of the Barzani rebellion, initiated by the collapse of the Kurdish autonomy talks and the consequent Iraqi offensive against rebel KDP troops of Mustafa Barzani during 1974-1975. The war came in the aftermath of the First Kurdish Iraqi War (1961-1970), as the 1970 peace plan for Kurdish autonomy had failed to be implemented by 1974. Unlike the previous guerilla campaign in 1961-1970, waged by Barzani, the 1974 war was the Kurdish attempt for a symmetric warfare against the Iraqi Army, which eventually led to the quick collapse of the Kurds, who were lacking advanced and heavy weaponry. The war ended with the exile of the Iraqi KDP party and between 7,000-20,000 mortal casualties from both sides combined.


Kurds led by Mustafa Barzani were engaged in heavy fighting against successive Iraqi regimes from 1960 to 1975. The First Kurdish Iraqi War (1961-1970) led to a stalemate and in March 1970 Iraq announced a peace plan providing for Kurdish autonomy. The plan was to be implemented in four years.[6] However, at the same time, the Iraqi regime started an Arabization program in the oil-rich regions of Kirkuk and Khanaqin.[7]

Conflict erupts

The 1970 peace agreement did not last long, and in 1974, the Iraqi government began a new offensive against the Kurdish rebels, pushing them close to the border with Iran. Iraq informed Tehran that it was willing to satisfy other Iranian demands in return for an end to its aid to the Kurds. Moreover, in March 1975, with mediation by Algerian President Houari Boumédiènne, Iraq and Iran signed the Algiers Accord. According to the accord Iran would cut supplies to Iraqi Kurds. Following this development, Barzani escaped to Iran with many of his supporters. Others surrendered en masse and the rebellion ended within a short time. The casualties of the war are estimated around 5,000 soldiers and civilians.[4]


As a result Iraqi government extended its control over the northern region after 15 years and in order to secure its influence, started an Arabization program by moving Arabs to the vicinity of oil fields in Kurdistan, particularly the ones around Kirkuk.[8] The repressive measures carried out by the government against the Kurds after the Algiers agreement led to renewed clashes between the Iraqi Army and Kurdish guerrillas in 1977. In 1978 and 1979, 600 Kurdish villages were burned down and around 200,000 Kurds were deported to the other parts of the country.[9]

In early 1980s, with the eruption of the Iran-Iraq War, another Kurdish rebellion erupted in northern Iraq, initiated largely with Iranian support. The revolt ended with a massive killing campaign by Saddam Hussein in 1986-1989. During the Al-Anfal campaign an estimated 182,000 Kurds lost their lives in north Iraq and hundreds of thousands turned refugees, fleeing mostly to neighbouring Iran.

The area went into turbulence once again in 1991, following the Persian Gulf War. Encouraged by Saddam's defeat in Kuwait, the Shi'as and the Kurds openly revolted against the Ba'athist regime. The defection of the government-recruited Kurdish Jash home guard militia gave considerable force to the revolt. Unlike the failed Shi'a rebellion in the south, the Kurdish uprising eventually led to the establishment of the Kurdish Autonomous Region.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Sammy Salama, Ibrahim Al-Marashi: An Analytical History: Iraq's Armed Forces, Routledge, 2008, ISBN 0415400783, pg. 121-122
  2. Brogan, Patrick. World Conflicts, London: Bloomsbury, 1989 page 298.
  3. Iraq (Kurds)
  4. 4.0 4.1 [1]
  5. p.48 "The Second Kurdish-Iraqi War (1974-1975)"
  6. G.S. Harris, Ethnic Conflict and the Kurds in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, pp.118-120, 1977
  7. Introduction. Genocide in Iraq: The Anfal Campaign Against the Kurds (Human Rights Watch Report, 1993).
  8. G.S. Harris, Ethnic Conflict and the Kurds, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, p.121, 1977
  9. M. Farouk-Sluglett, P. Sluglett, J. Stork, Not Quite Armageddon: Impact of the War on Iraq, MERIP Reports, July–September 1984, p.24

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