Mapping Euro-Kurdistan

by Bilgin Ayata
published in MER247

By leaving Ankara, we became a party; by going into the Middle East, we became an army; when we go out into the world, we shall achieve a state.
―Abdullah Öcalan

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Letter from Iraqi Kurdistan

by Peri Raouf
published in MER247

Landing at the shiny new airport in Erbil, seat of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq, I could not help but notice that the cleaning crews are not staffed with locals. The cleaners are from Southeast Asia, giving the impression that Iraqi Kurdistan is blessed with full employment and needs to import labor. Among the arriving passengers, however, were more than a dozen young Kurdish men who had been turned back from destinations—likely, in Europe—where they had gone in search of the same menial jobs that are now handed to migrant workers in their country.

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Turkey's Tug of War

by Marcie J. Patton
published in MER239

To what extent should national security trump democracy? Since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, this question has been pertinent everywhere, but it is especially pressing in Turkey.

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The Ethnic Question in Iran

by Kaveh Bayat
published in MER237

Iran is not a Persian monolith, as it is often portrayed. Owing to waves of migration and foreign invasion over its long history, the Iranian plateau has become home to a diverse assortment of people speaking a range of languages and adhering to numerous creeds. The “Iranian” languages spoken in Iran include Persian, Kurdish, Luri, Gilaki, Mazandarani, Tat and Talish. But there are also Turkic languages such as Azeri and Turkmen, and Semitic languages such as Arabic, Hebrew and Assyrian. Likewise, Iranian citizens profess many different religious beliefs, including the dominant Shi‘i Islam, but also Sunni Islam and several kinds of Christianity.

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The Politics of Poverty in Turkey's Southeast

by Will Day
published in MER247

“There’s not a kid in this neighborhood who hasn’t shined shoes or sold tissues,” says Mehmet, 19, laughing deeply. His is the black humor born of misfortune: Like so many Kurdish youths in Diyarbakır, seat of Turkey’s troubled southeast, Mehmet slowly made his way to the city with his family after watching his village burn during the war between Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) guerrillas and the Turkish army in the 1990s. Temporary, off-the-books jobs are all that stave off hunger for countless families of Kurds settled in and around Diyarbakır since their forcible displacement from the subsistence economies of the countryside. Stark socioeconomic inequalities are nothing new for this region, of course.

To Protect or to Project?

Iraqi Kurds and Their Future.

by Joost Hiltermann
published in MER247

Erstwhile kings of the mountains, Iraq’s Kurdish parties have become kingmakers in Baghdad. No federal government can be established without them—and they know it.

From the Editors

published in MER247

Like the Palestinians, the Kurds are routinely described as a “question.” The label refers, in one sense, to their status as a people who sought self-determination in the wake of World War I but whose claim is still unsettled. From the standpoint of the states that divided the population of Kurdistan among themselves, the Kurds are a “question” as the Palestinians are to Israel today, or as the Jews of Europe were in the past, a troublesome, bumptious minority and a running challenge to the states’ preferred notions of national identity.