Global Policy Forum



Emerging States & Claims to Autonomy and Independence



Picture Credit: Villagers with Torches



For Kurds in Turkey, a Country’s Conflict Rends Families (October 29, 2011)

Turkey has historically punished Kurds for expressing their cultural identity. Demanding rights and local autonomy, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) guerilla movement declared war on the state in 1984. Thousands have been killed in militant attacks and government reprisals. Service in the Turkish army is mandatory, and the government is now deploying more Kurdish conscripts in their home region where they are more likely to be fighting their brothers and sisters in the PKK. In recent years, the government has made some concessions to the Kurds in an attempt to join the EU, but promised constitutional reforms have yet to be implemented. (New York Times)

Peace Process Raises Hopes of End to Kurdish Conflict (August 19, 2009)

Twenty five years after the beginning of the insurgency of the PKK, an end to the Kurdish-
Turkish conflict may be in sight. Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan agreed to meet with Ahmet Türk, chairman of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party, despite having previously refused to meet with PKK aligned politicians. The Turkish authorities' new behavior hints toward potential reconciliation. However Kurdish hardliners and the Turkish extreme right remain resistant to this shift.

To Protect or to Project? Iraqi Kurds and Their Future (Summer 2008)

Is the independence of Iraqi Kurds a realistic prospect? During Saddam Hussein's regime, the Kurdish minority grappled with a divided leadership and suffered from ethnic cleansing, which undermined their independence efforts. Today, however, the Kurds hold powerful political positions in the Iraqi government and every political decision requires Kurdish input. This article argues that Iraqi Kurds face the dilemma of whether to use their increased power to press for independence or for increased autonomy. (Middle East Research and Information Project)

Kurds Advancing to Reclaim Land in Northern Iraq (June 20, 2004)

Thousands of Kurds, exiled by the Ba'ath regime over the last four decades as part of its "Arabization" policy, are returning to Northern Iraq. Kurdish leaders are encouraging the repatriation to create new demographic and political realities on the ground, including the establishment of oil-rich Kirkuk as their regional capital. Newly displaced Arabs claim that Kurdish returnees are using violence to reclaim their former homes. (New York Times)

Turkey's Tentative Opening to Kurdishness (June 14, 2004)

In an effort to meet the human rights criteria for European Union membership, Turkey relaxed some of its most discriminatory practices against Kurds in the country's southeast. The government allowed openly pro-Kurdish activists to run in local elections and freed a high-profile political prisoner, but continues to commit human rights abuses against Kurds. The author asks how these new developments will affect the future of Kurdish identity politics. (MERIP)

Ankara Has Only Itself to Blame for its Lack of Power in Northern Iraq (February 3, 2004)

This article argues US reliance on Kurdish troops to secure northern Iraq during the US invasion has weakened Turkish influence in the region and given new impetus to Kurdish nationalism. Kurdish factions have used the opportunity to reestablish control of Kirkuk and Mosul and consolidate their political influence in the area. (Power and Interest News Report)

Kurds Redrawing Map By Memory, With Force (April 17, 2003)

"The new map of Iraqi Kurdistan is being drawn with politics, blood and ethnic conflict" within the power vacuum of post-Saddam Iraq, as Iraqi Kurds retain control over disputed territory in the northwest. The release from years of oppression by the Iraqi regime is exploding into nationalistic violence against Arabs in the region. (Washington Post)

Kosovo for the Kurds (March 27, 2003)

"If you think it's a little academic to ponder the fate of stateless nations while the war still rages around Baghdad, think again," writes Timothy Garton Ash of the Guardian. Military strategists are already contemplating Kurdish autonomy or even independence in a post-war Iraq, raising questions of which peoples have the right to govern themselves, and which don't.

Flashback for the Kurds (February 19, 2003)

The Kurds in northern Iraq "are realizing that once again America is about to double-cross them," this time in the interest of appeasing Turkey. Given that the US justifies a war on Iraq on the name of democracy, if it "puts down the democratic hopes of Iraq's Kurds, the administration looks shortsighted and cynical. And not just to the Kurds." (New York Times)

Kurds Play Precarious Role in Northern Iraq (January 26, 2003)

Since the start of the first Gulf War, the US has looked to the Kurdish people in northern Iraq as potential allies to oust Saddam Hussein. Yet the Kurds, a displaced people with communities spanning four countries, remain wary that the US has no interest in either supporting their aspiration for independent statehood or protecting their human rights. (Power and Interest News Report)




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