In Iraq, the Kurdish strive for autonomy and independence loomed into armed conflicts since the 1919 Mahmud Barzanji revolt. The displacement however became most significant during the Iraqi-Kurdish conflict and parallel active Arabizations programs of the Ba'athist regime, which looked to cleanse northern Iraq of its Kurdish majority. Tens of thousands of Kurds turned displaced and fled the war zones following First and Second Kurdish Iraqi Wars in 1960s and 1970s. The Iran–Iraq War, which spanned from 1980 to 1988, the first Gulf War and subsequent rebellions all together generated several millions of primarily Kurdish refugees, who mostly found refuge in Iran, while others dispersed into Kurdish diaspora in Europe and the Americas. Iran alone provided asylum for 1,400,000 Iraqi refugees, mostly Kurds, who had been uprooted as a result of the Persian Gulf War (1990–91) and the subsequent rebellions.
Today, a large portion of the Kurdish population is composed of Kurdish refugees and displaced and their descendants. Refugees themselves still comprise a significant proportion of Iranian and Syrian Kurds. Recently, the Syrian Kurdish community was declaired to be granted civil rights as part of the reforms by Bashar al-Assad, as an attempt to pacify the 2011 Syrian uprising. However, human rights groups said only 3,000 out of some 200,000 stateless Kurds were given an official status in Syria.