PKK Turkey removes pro-Kurdish mayors, arrests more than Opinion A Turkish-Kurdish war in Syria is still possible. Iraq Iraqi Kurdish authorities arrest suspect behind Erbil shooting. Turkey 26 May GMT Kurdish leader Ocalan's call ends jail hunger strikes in Turkey MPs and prison inmates terminate their hunger strikes after imprisoned fighter leader Ocalan asks them to do so. Iraq 26 Jan GMT Turkey resumes flights to Iraq's Sulaimaniyah after month ban Ankara stopped flights to the Kurdish airport in September after the Iraqi region held an independence referendum.
Syria's War 25 Jan GMT Turkey expects Syria 'safe zone' set up in months Erdogan says Turkey will form buffer zone along Syria border on its own if logistical support not given by allies. Why is the US pulling out of Syria? Can Iraq's new prime minister solve its old problems?
Middle East Anger is simmering among Iraq's Kurdish youth. Iraq 'I lost my whole family in the sea'. Iraq Why is oil-rich Kirkuk so poor? But this was a mistake. Yet, it was easy to understand why this mistake was made. Up until the s and s, Kurdish politics in one state had limited influence over politics in other countries where Kurds resided.
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The Syrian civil war has forever changed all of these foreign policy calculations. The world witnessed this political cooperation between the Kurdish communities of Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran when Kurdish volunteers mobilized behind Syrian Kurdish fighters against the better-equipped and numerically superior force of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria ISIS in the northern Syrian town of Kobane in This interstate political connection among Kurds also means that Turkey, Iraq, and Iran have to approach the rise of Syrian Kurds through the lens of their own domestic Kurdish policies.
The rise of the Syrian Kurds—who comprise around 10 percent of the pre-war Syrian population—as a leading force which dominates one-third of the country cannot be explained solely by Kurdish activities within Syria or Syrian politics. Likewise, the collapse of the Turkish—Kurdish peace process in Turkey and Iranian—Turkish—Iraqi cooperation against the independence referendum of the Iraqi Kurds cannot only be accounted for by how domestic politics play out within each country or within the Kurdish political milieus in each of those countries.
The real question moving forward is how Kurds will unify in the future.
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Will Kurds continue to be citizens active as part of their present nation-states— that is as confederated autonomous areas—or will Kurds seek actual political independence? Two Challenges to Kurdish Self-Determination The political ascendancy of the Kurds, however, faces two significant challenges.
The first challenge concerns itself with the international political system: Kurds are trying to exist as non-state actors in a world that is dominated by nation-states. This renders them invisible in most official political platforms that discuss their future. Such statelessness therefore makes the Kurds invisible in policymaking circles and official meetings. Foreign ministries from the United States to Europe are designed to deal with the representatives of other countries, not non-state actors.
Even limited efforts to recognize ethnic non-state or sub-state actors come under strong criticism in official circles. During his speech in Cairo in January, U. The second major challenge concerns political geography. The Kurds live in a landlocked area dominated by the central governments of Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and at least nominally Syria.
Consequently, the Kurds of greater Kurdistan are in a worse situation than many other ethnic minorities without states, which exist within the borders of a single nation. This interstate separation reduces the Kurdish population—which according to some estimates numbers in total 35 to 40 million—to smaller minorities in each of the countries in which they live.
Having lived under the control of different countries, Kurds and their politics in the twentieth century have been shaped by the politics of host countries. It is possible to say that up until the late s, Kurds in Erbil were more connected to the political situation in Baghdad than developments in Diyarbakir, in southeastern Turkey. Also, the central governments of Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria have worked in tandem to cooperate in stifling resistance by Kurds in any one state.
These dominant states also have hindered reform efforts on Kurdish rights in the other countries. Besides regional alliances formed by the four states against Kurdish rights and autonomy, the international alliances that each of the four states are a part of have come down against Kurdish political groups. For example, due to Turkish policies regarding Kurdish political organizations, the Kurds faced hostility and criminalization by the states of NATO, of which Turkey is a member.
Who Are the Kurds?
Another example of international apathy for Kurdish political groups and rights is the response of the Arab World. As Kurdish rights groups were active in Iraq and Syria, other Arab powers who had pan-Arab relations with Damascus and Baghdad were at best lukewarm in their sympathy toward the Kurdish cause. What is going to happen to the Kurdish fighters? What about the paramilitary groups working for the Turkish government?
The State of the Turkish-Kurdish Conflict
How to reverse the rhetoric of hatred in a region that is not use to dialogue? Nothing has changed in governmental policy.
They keep on setting up military bases and continue on the warpath. In the governmental camp, the dialogue is tempered by election results. On the other hand, the PKK leader, in jail since , seems to have time and the capacity to overcome crises like the one that happened early October The capture of Kobane by IS and the lack of military reaction from the Turkish government, sent the population of Diyarbakir into the streets. Ocalan asks the demonstrators to go back to their homes to show his influence on the Kurdish Turks.
In the process he expresses his will to maintain the dialogue as some governmental voices threatened to disrupt them. Since then the dialogue has been more serene even if Ankara is refusing to give the Kurdish their autonomy.
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Because of it, no social and economic politic can be implemented to kick start a regional redevelopment. No peaceful political solution has yet to be proposed to the Kurds who have yet to all speak with the same voice. The process needs to be institutionalised. The fact that the dialogue can stop or restart depending on so few people makes it very instable.
If the progress at political level is hard to see, at a cultural and societal level , it is undeniable and is spreading to the whole of Turkey.
A Kurdish press now exists. Kurdish institutes have been created in universities, and learning Kurdish language at school is being suggested. Publishing books in Kurdish no longer gets you sent to jail. The fourth political force in Turkey gathers Kurdish, progressive Turks and representatives of ethnic or social minorities like the LGBT movement.
The Changing Geopolitics of a Regional Conflict
This progress is rooted in a regional context that is in full reconstruction. Music in the bar Payiz, Dag Kapi, Diyarbakir. The Kurdish question is now supra-national. Finally, the arrival on the international scene of the IS jihadists has been upsetting the balance. The victory of the Kurdish troops in Kobane is a reminder to the western world that Kurds can have a real impact.