The Kurdish Spring

Geopolitical Changes and the Kurds

The Kurdish Spring


The Kurdish Spring

A New Map of the Middle East

The Kurdish Spring

Kurds are the largest stateless people in the world. An estimated thirty-two million Kurds live in "Kurdistan," which includes parts of Turkey, Iraq, Syria, and Iran today's "hot spots" in the Middle East. The Kurdish Spring explores the subjugation of Kurds by Arab, Ottoman, and Persian powers for almost a century, and explains why Kurds are now evolving from a victimized people to a coherent political community.David L. Phillips describes Kurdish rebellions and arbitrary divisions in the last century, chronicling the nadir of Kurdish experience in the 1980s. He discusses draconian measures implemented by Iraq, including use of chemical weapons, Turkey's restrictions on political and cultural rights, denial of citizenship and punishment for expressing Kurdish identity in Syria, and repressive rule in Iran.Phillips forecasts the collapse and fragmentation of Iraq. He argues that US strategic and security interests are advanced through cooperation with Kurds, as a bulwark against ISIS and Islamic extremism. This work will encourage the public to look critically at the post-colonial period, recognizing the injustice and impracticality of states that were created by Great Powers, and offering a new perspective on sovereignty and statehood.

The Kurdish Question Revisited

The Kurdish Question Revisited

The Kurds, once marginal in the study of the Middle East and secondary in its international relations, have moved to center stage in recent years. In Turkey, where the Kurdish question is an issue of national significance, and in Iraq, where the gains made by the Kurdistan Regional Government have allowed it to impose its authority, moves are afoot to solve 'the Kurdish Question' once and for all. In Syria, where the Kurds have borne the brunt of the Islamic State's onslaught as they defended their three self-declared cantons of Afrin, Kobane, and Cezire, and in Iran, where they struggle to express their cultural distinctiveness and suffer disproportionately at the hands of the Islamic Republic's security and intelligence services, the picture is less positive. Yet the situations in both countries remain in flux, affected by developments in Iraq and Turkey in a manner that suggests we may have to revise the notion of the Kurds being forever divided by the boundaries of the Middle East and subsumed into the state projects of other nations. The contributors to The Kurdish Question Revisited offer insights into how this once seemingly intractable, immutable phenomenon is being transformed amid the new political realities of the Middle East.

The Kurds in a Changing Middle East

History, Politics and Representation

The Kurds in a Changing Middle East

The Kurds are one of the largest stateless nations in the world, numbering more than 20 million people. Their homeland lies mostly within the present-day borders of Turkey, Iraq and Iran as well as parts of Syria, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Yet until recently the 'Kurdish question' - that is, the question of Kurdish self-determination - seemed, to many observers, dormant. It was only after the so-called Arab Spring, and with the rise of the Islamic State, that they emerged at the centre of Middle East politics. But what is the future of the Kurdish national movement? How do the Kurds themselves understand their community and quest for political representation? This book analyses the major problems, challenges and opportunities currently facing the Kurds. Of particular significance, this book shows, is the new Kurdish society that is evolving in the context of a transforming Middle East. This is made of diverse communities from across the region who represent very different historical, linguistic, political, social and cultural backgrounds that are yet to be understood. This book examines the recent shifts and changes within Kurdish societies and their host countries, and argues that the Kurdish national movement requires institutional and constitutional recognition of pluralism and diversity. Featuring contributions from world-leading experts on Kurdish politics, this timely book combines empirical case studies with cutting-edge theory to shed new light on the Kurds of the 21st century.

Out of Nowhere

The Kurds of Syria in Peace and War

Out of Nowhere

In mid-2012 the previously almost forgotten Syrian Kurds suddenly emerged as a potential game-changer in the country's civil war when in an attempt to consolidate its increasingly desperate position the Assad government abruptly withdrew its troops from the major Kurdish areas in Syria. The Kurds in Syria had suddenly won autonomy, a situation that has huge implications for neighboring Turkey and the near independent Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq. Indeed, their precipitous rise may prove a tipping-point that alters the boundaries imposed on the Middle East by the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916. These important events and what they portend for the future are scrutinized by the renowned scholar of the Kurds Michael Gunter. He also analyses the sudden rise of Salih Muslim and his Democratic Union Party (PYD) - which was created by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and remains affiliated to it - and the extremely complex and deadly fighting between factions of the Syrian Opposition affiliated with al-Qaeda such as the Jabhat al-Nusra jihadists and the PYD, among others.

Kurdish Awakening

Nation Building in a Fragmented Homeland

Kurdish Awakening

Kurdish Awakening examines key questions related to Kurdish nationalism and identity formation in Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Turkey. The world's largest stateless ethnic group, Kurds have steadily grown in importance as a political power in the Middle East, particularly in light of the "Arab Spring." As a result, Kurdish issues—political, cultural, and historical alike—have emerged as the subject of intense scholarly interest. This book provides fresh ways of understanding the historical and sociopolitical underpinnings of the ongoing Kurdish awakening and its already significant impact on the region. Rather than focusing on one state or angle, this anthology fills a gap in the literature on the Kurds by providing a panoramic view of the Kurdish homeland's various parts. The volume focuses on aspects of Kurdish nationalism and identity formation not addressed elsewhere, including perspectives on literature, gender, and constitution making. Further, broad thematic essays include a discussion of the historical experiences of the Kurds from the time of their Islamization more than a millennium ago up until the modern era, a comparison of the Kurdish experience with other ethno-national movements, and a treatment of the role of tribalism in modern nation building. This collection is unique in its use of original sources in various languages. The result is an analytically rich portrayal that sheds light on the Kurds' prospects and the challenges they confront in a region undergoing sweeping upheavals.

Al Qaeda’s Global Crisis

The Islamic State, Takfir and the Genocide of Muslims

Al Qaeda’s Global Crisis

This book focuses on the crises facing Al Qaeda and how the mass killing of Muslims is challenging its credibility as a leader among Islamist jihadist organizations. The book argues that these crises are directly related to Al Qaeda’s affiliation with the extreme violence employed against Muslims in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan in the decade since 9/11. Al Qaeda’s public and private responses to this violence differ greatly. While in public Al Qaeda has justified those attacks declaring that, for the establishment of a state of ‘true believers’, they are a necessary evil, in private Al Qaeda has been advising its local affiliates to refrain from killing Muslims. To better understand the crises facing Al Qaeda, the book explores the development of Central Al Qaeda’s complex relationship with radical (mis)appropriations and manifestations of takfir, which allows one Muslim to declare another an unbeliever, and its unique relationship with each of its affiliates in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The author then goes on to consider how the prominence of takfir is contributing to the deteriorating security in those countries and how this is affecting Al Qaeda’s credibility as an Islamist terror organization. The book concludes by considering the long-term viability of Al Qaeda and how its demise could allow the rise of the even more radical, violent Islamic State and the implications this has for the future security of the Middle East, North Africa and Central/South Asia. This book will be of much interest to students of political violence and terrorism, Islamism, global security and IR.

The Kurdish Nationalist Movement

Opportunity, Mobilization and Identity

The Kurdish Nationalist Movement

David Romano's 2006 book focuses on the Kurdish case to try and make sense of ethnic nationalist resurgence generally. In a world rent by a growing number of such conflicts, the questions posed about why, how and when such challenges to the state are mounted are becoming increasingly urgent. Throughout the author analyses these questions through the lens of social movement theory, considering in particular politico-social structures, resource mobilization strategies and cultural identity. His conclusions offer some thought-provoking insights into Kurdish nationalism, as well as into the strengths and weaknesses of various social movement theories. While the book offers a rigorous conceptual approach, the empirical material - the result of the author's personal experiences - makes it a compelling read. It will find a readership amongst students of the Middle East, and also amongst those interested in ethnic relations, minority rights, terrorism, state repression, social movement theories and many other related issues.

Conflict, Democratization, and the Kurds in the Middle East

Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria

Conflict, Democratization, and the Kurds in the Middle East

In Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria, central governments historically pursued mono-nationalist ideologies and repressed Kurdish identity. As evidenced by much unrest and a great many Kurdish revolts in all these states since the 1920s, however, the Kurds manifested strong resistance towards ethnic chauvinism. What sorts of authoritarian state policies have Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria relied on to contain the Kurds over the years? Can meaningful democratization and liberalization in any of these states occur without a fundamental change vis-à-vis their Kurdish minorities? To what extent does the Kurdish issue function as both a barrier and key to democratization in four of the most important states of the Middle East? While many commentators on the Middle East stress the importance of resolving the Arab-Israeli dispute for achieving 'peace in the Middle East,' this book asks whether or not the often overlooked Kurdish issue may constitute a more important fulcrum for change in the region, especially in light of the 'Arab Spring' and recent changes in Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria.

The Great Betrayal

How America Abandoned the Kurds and Lost the Middle East

The Great Betrayal

The twentieth century saw dramatic changes in the once Kurd-dominated Kirkuk region of Iraq. Despite having repeatedly relied on the Kurdish population of Iraq for military support, on three occasions the United States have abandoned their supposed allies in Kirkuk. The Great Betrayal provides a political and diplomatic history of the Kirkuk region and its international relations from the 1920s to the present day. Based on first-hand interviews and previously unseen sources, it provides an accessible account of a region at the very heart of America's foreign policy priorities in the Middle East. In September 2017, Iraqi Kurdistan held an independence referendum, intended to be a starting point on negotiations with the Iraqi Government in Baghdad on the terms of a friendly divorce. Though the US, Turkey, and Iran opposed it, the referendum passed with 93% of the vote. Rather than negotiate, Iraq's Prime Minister Heider al-Abadi issued an ultimatum and then attacked the region. Iraq's Kurdish population have been abandoned, once again, by their supposed allies in the US. In this book, David L. Phillips reveals the failings of America's policies towards Kirkuk and the devastating effects of betraying an ally.