"The AKP's 'New Kurdish Strategy' Is Nothing of the Sort"

An Interview with Selahattin Demirtas

by Jake Hess | published May 2, 2012

Selahattin Demirtaş is co-president of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party of Turkey (BDP), the fourth largest political party in the country. The BDP is not formally tied to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has been in armed conflict with the Turkish state since 1984, but it shares the PKK’s core political demands and the two groups likely have many supporters in common. As such, the BDP is a pivotal player in the search for peace.

Syrian Kurdish Cards

by Denise Natali | published March 20, 2012

Upheaval in Syria has given Kurdish groups new opportunities to advance their nationalist agendas while serving as proxies for neighboring states. In Turkey, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK has taken advantage of the rift between the regime of Bashar al-Asad and the Turkish government by turning to the former to help it launch its armed operations. In Iraq, after some delay, Kurdish elites have entered Syrian opposition politics as well, highlighting the ironies and internal tensions of their own position. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is keen to persuade Turkey, its key regional patron, that it can contain the PKK elements based in Iraqi territory and moderate Syrian Kurdish demands, while also assuring its Kurdish brethren that it will support their claims. And in Syria itself, Kurds have created the Kurdish National Council in parallel to the main opposition body, the Syrian National Council (SNC) -- a reaction to the possibility that the SNC will morph into a successor regime led by Muslim Brothers under Turkish influence.

The Evolution of Kurdish Politics in Syria

by Christian Sinclair , Sirwan Kajjo | published August 31, 2011

Over the weekend of July 16-17, representatives of the opposition to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Asad met in Istanbul to choose a “National Salvation Council.” Among the diverse attendees were delegates speaking for Syria’s Kurds, the largest ethnic minority in the country at more than 2 million people, some 10 percent of the population. All of the multiple Kurdish parties in Syria envision a pluralistic state in which their cultural and linguistic rights are recognized. Those at the Istanbul gathering wanted the name of the country changed from the Syrian Arab Republic to the “Republic of Syria.” When the other delegates at the conference refused this request, these Kurds walked out in protest.

The False Promise of Operation Provide Comfort

Protecting Refugees or Protecting State Power?

by Bill Frelick
published in MER176

The US-led response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait has had many immediate repercussions on the international humanitarian network set up at the dawn of an earlier “new order” -- the close of World War II. It also has more than a few similarities to the protection scheme set up then to assist and protect refugees and displaced persons, and similarly reflects the values and concerns of its time.

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Why the Uprisings Failed

by Faleh A. Jabar
published in MER176

In March 1991, following Iraq’s defeat in the Gulf war, the Kurds of northern Iraq and Arabs of the south rose up against the Baath regime. For two brief weeks, the uprisings were phenomenally successful. Government administration in the towns was overthrown and local army garrisons were left in disarray. Yet by the end of the month the rebellions had been crushed and the rebels scattered, fleeing across the nearest borders or into Iraq’s southern marshes. Those who could not flee did not survive summary executions.

Recent Books on the Kurds

by Eric Hooglund
published in MER181

Nader Entessar, Kurdish Ethnonationalism (Lynne Rienner, 1992).

Philip Kreyenbroek and Stefan Sperl, eds., The Kurds: A Contemporary Overview (Routledge, 1992).

Sheri Laizer, Into Kurdistan: Frontiers Under Fire (Zed, 1991).

Martin van Bruinessen, Agha, Shaikh and State: The Social and Political Structures of Kurdistan (Zed, 1992).

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The Displacement of Urfiya Hama Ahmad

by Joost Hiltermann
published in MER181

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How Safe Is the Safe Haven?

by Ralf Backer , Ronald Ofteringer
published in MER187

More than 10 million landmines have been scattered in Iraqi Kurdistan since 1975. Fifty percent of these were made in Italy. During the Iran-Iraq war, vast areas like Haj Omran and Penjwin were mined by both sides. After the Anfal campaign in 1988, Iraqi troops heavily mined the remnants of destroyed villages and booby-trapped them to prevent access by villagers and Kurdish fighters. The last round of mining started during the Gulf crisis in 1990 when Iraqi troops laid hundreds of thousands of mines near the Turkish border to hinder a possible allied attack from Turkish territory.

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A Republic of Statelessness

Three Years of Humanitarian Intervention in Iraqi Kurdistan

by Ralf Backer , Ronald Ofteringer
published in MER187

For nearly three years, Iraqi Kurdistan has been in a state of de facto self-rule. At first glance, it appears that the international engagement in Iraq on the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 688 (Operation Provide Comfort) provided this opportunity.