Voices from Turkey's Southeast

by Marcie J. Patton
published in MER227

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Villages of No Return

by Joost Jongerden
published in MER235

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Return of the Turkish “State of Exception”

by Kerem Öktem | published June 3, 2006

Diyarbakır, the political and cultural center of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeastern provinces, displays its beauty in springtime. The surrounding plains and mountains, dusty and barren during the summer months, shine in shades of green and the rainbow colors of alpine flowers and herbs. Around the walls of the old city, parks bustle with schoolchildren, unemployed young men and refugees who were uprooted from their villages during the Kurdish insurgency in the 1990s.

The Ceasefire This Time

by Evren Balta-Paker | published August 31, 2005

“The aim of the Turkish armed forces is to ensure that the separatist terrorist organization bows down to the law and the mercy of the nation.” Thus did the Turkish chief of staff, Gen. Hilmi Ozkok, brusquely dismiss the one-month ceasefire announced on August 19, 2005 by the Kurdistan People’s Congress (or Kongra-Gel). Kongra-Gel is the name adopted in 2003 by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which had renewed its armed struggle with the Turkish state just over one year before proclaiming its latest truce.

A Shaky De Facto Kurdistan

by Quil Lawrence
published in MER215

Surrounded by four states that do not wish it well, officially embargoed, still divided by internal conflicts, Iraqi Kurdistan hasn't had it this good for years. Paradoxically, Kurds in northern Iraq are hoping everything stays exactly the way it is.

"If the government comes back we lose everything," says 35-year old farmer Chasim Abdullah Azi. Azi leans his wooden-stock Kalashnikov in the corner of his hut, taking off his shoes for tea. He needs the gun to protect the sheep, he says. "My kids are small so they don't know."

Refugees in Their Own Country

by Maggy Zanger
published in MER222

Six bodies uncovered in February during construction on an old Iraqi army base in Iraqi Kurdistan were grim reminders of the Ba'th regime's past genocidal policies towards the Kurds. "The past is ever present in Kurdistan," as one Kurdish journalist says. But little reminder is needed of past atrocities when the present provides an ongoing illustration.

The Kurds' Secret Scenarios

by Chris Kutschera
published in MER225

 Never have the gardens of Sarchinar and the slopes of Mount Azmar welcomed so many Kurdish families fleeing the heat of Suleimaniya than during the exceptionally long Indian summer of 2002. Squatting on the ground or sitting around tables, grilling shish-kebabs on improvised barbecues or unpacking home-cooked dishes, women dressed in colorful robes mix with men in traditional attire, listening to the last cassette of the Kurdish crooner Omar Dizai, drinking yogurt mixed with water, tea, beer or raki, while children run around nearby. The crowd revels late into the night, seemingly without a care in the world. "For once," says Azad, an engineer, "we Kurds are on the right side of the fence."

The US and the Kurds of Iraq

A Bitter Hitory

by Maggy Zanger | published August 9, 2002

As the winds of war steadily gather strength in the West, the Iraqi Kurds walk a tightrope between US interests and Iraqi government threats. Recognizing that it has little control over US decision-making, the Kurdish leadership is struggling to strike a delicate balance between a US-led "regime change" and the preservation of hard-won gains in two self-rule enclaves in northern Iraq.

Iran and the "Kurdish Question"

by Kaveh Bayat
published in MER247

The breakup of the Russian, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires in Eastern Europe and the Balkans was the result of a series of nationalist agitations that, at the end of the World War I, ushered in new nation-states. In the Middle East, by contrast, the dissolution of Ottoman dominion was the starting point of nationalist movements—Arab, Kurdish and Turkish, among others—that strove to win national territories in the shadow of intervention by the victorious powers of Western Europe and the Soviet heirs of the czars. The success of these new nationalist movements varied greatly. Turkish nationalists, who had the experience of administering a territorial state, managed to consolidate a republic in the heart of Anatolia. Others achieved an apparent, but questionable success.

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