In the Iraqi autonomous region of Kurdistan, 1991 Rebellion Anniversary Day is celebrated every 5 March. The holiday looks back to the series of uprisings that took place in Iraq in 1991 right after the First Gulf War.
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Note: Rebellion Anniversary is observed in Kurdistan only.
It was hoped at the time that Saddam Hussein’s defeat in the Gulf War would lead to his ouster. Thus, diverse groups all over Iraq united to overthrow him, including Kurds in Kurdistan in northern Iraq. As Hussein had massacred many thousands of Kurds earlier in his presidency, Kurdistan was especially eager to see him go.
The rebellion took off on 1 March in southern Iraq, but it was on 5 March that the same happened in the north in Rania, Kurdistan. The north mostly fell into rebel hands after only a week and a half of fighting, and by 20 March, all Kurdistan was free. Sadly, things did not go so well in the south, and by April, the rebels had largely been destroyed outside of Kurdistan.
The Kurds fought on, but they were defeated by October of 1991. However, they did gain autonomous region status in the aftermath of the conflict. After the Second Gulf War, freedom from Hussein’s grip finally came to all Iraq.
The 5 March Rebellion Anniversary Day in Kurdistan brings a mixture of feelings. There is the pride in the courage of the rebels, the sadness over their defeat, the knowledge of a later victory, and the concern over the future of Kurdistan.