Anfal and Halabja Genocide: Lessons Not Learned

Ofra Bengio*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The 1987–1988 Anfal Campaign during which the Iraqi Baath regime massacred some 180,000 Kurdish Iraqis, 5,000 of whom killed by chemical weapons in the town of Halabja, is considered one of the major traumas in modern Kurdish history. Yet a few decades later, the Kurds appear to have risen from their proverbial ashes, embarking against great odds on an ambitious state building project in northern Iraq. With this story of “trauma and redemption” as background, this paper considers the lessons learned from this Kurdish experiment; lessons drawn not only by the Kurds themselves, but by all those who willy-nilly accompanied them on this journey; the Iraqi state, the international community, and the United States.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-298
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of the Middle East and Africa
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2023


  • Anfal
  • Arab nationalism
  • Baath
  • Halabja
  • Iraq
  • KRI
  • Kurds
  • Saddam Hussein
  • UN
  • US
  • ethnic cleansing
  • genocide
  • referendum


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