Iraq’s Kurds declare independence in cyberspace with .krd domain name

Denied their own state in reality, Iraq’s Kurds have declared independence in cyberspace with a new domain name that has provoked the ire of a neighbor hostile to their aspirations.

The new top-level domain “.krd” gives Kurds a separate space in the virtual world at a time when they are gaining legitimacy on the ground through their alliance with the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State.

Often described as the world’s largest ethnic group without their own state, the Kurds consider themselves victims of a pact that partitioned their homeland between Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq after World War One.

“Those who imprisoned us within these geographical boundaries do not have the same leverage in cyberspace. In the internet we choose our own borders,” said Hiwa Afandi, who got international recognition for the domain that opened this week for private companies, organizations and individuals to use.

“We would rather live in a country called Kurdistan, be it physical or in cyberspace,” said Afandi, head of the department of Information Technology in the Kurdish region of Iraq.

The Kurds were granted the “.krd” domain name in 2013 by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a U.S.-based non-profit organization that manages internet addresses.

It is a “generic” name, not a two-letter “country code” name reserved for sovereign states. The region’s presidency and government already use it for their websites in Kurdish, Arabic and English at www.presidency.krd and www.gov.krd.

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