The Kurdish Spring: Geopolitical Changes and the Kurds.

Michael M. Gunter, Mohammed M.A. Ahmed

Series: Bibliotheca Iranica: Kurdish Studies Series 12
Availability: In stock
Published: 2013
Page #: xxvi + 344
Size: 6 x 9
ISBN: ISBN 13:978-1568592725, 1-56859-272-8
bibliography, index, notes

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Quick Overview

In the midst of all the changes the Arab Spring has brought in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya, among others, the intelligent lay, media, and policy worlds have paid much less attention to what might be called the Kurdish Spring: Demands for meaningful democracy along with cultural, social, and political rights and their immediate implementation. Or as Ofra Bengio recently described it: “The Kurdish movement is now crystallized in almost all parts of Kurdistan. The weakening of the relevant states, alongside the tectonic sociopolitical changes taking place in the region as a whole, may end up changing the strategic map of the Middle East. Forged by the Great Powers after World War I, the borders separating the Kurds of Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran no longer appear as sacred or secure as they once did.” However, before surveying this new climate, it also should be noted that the Kurdish version of the Arab Spring did not just begin in 2011, but in some ways has been going on for decades: In Turkey (at least since the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) formally began its insurgency in August 1984), as well as in Iraq since the days of Mulla Mustafa Barzani beginning in the early 1960s, but especially since the end of the two U.S. wars against Saddam Hussein in 1991 and even more in 2003. These two wars led to the creation of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq, the most successful attempt at Kurdish statehood in modern times. On a lesser scale Iran too has long been going through its own off again/on again Kurdish Spring, the Mahabad Republic in 1946 being the most famous example. Until recently, the Iranian Kurds were bitterly divided into several competing parties, constant protests, and, in the case of the Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK) ensconced in the Iraqi Kandil Mountains just across the border from Iran, even armed struggle against the Iranian regime. In the past year, however, a more-or-less cease-fire has fallen over the Iranian Kurds and little has been heard from them. Some speculate that this might simply be the prelude to the next explosion in the Kurdish world. Finally, in Syria, where the Kurdish population is much smaller and not as geographically united as it is in the other three states, the Kurds—in part inspired by the rise of the KRG—have broken out of their muted and divided existence to partially join the anti-Assad movement: First in protest against the assassination on October 7, 2011 of Mishaal Tammo, one of their most promising leaders, and subsequently as part of the much larger revolt against the Assad regime. Although the Syrian Kurds have taken a much less active role against Assad than other Syrian dissidents, since July 2012, they have enjoyed de facto autonomy due to Assad’s strategic withdrawal from the Kurdish northeast of the country. The purpose of this edited book is to survey the Kurdish Spring in the aftermath of the Arab Spring that began in late 2010 and early 2011. Approximately 13 articles written by scholarly experts on the Kurds will analyze the overall Kurdish Spring as well as individual aspects of the Kurdish Spring in Iraq, Turkey, Iran, Syria, and the Diaspora.


Michael M. Gunter

Michael M. Gunter is a professor of political science at Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville, Tennessee and teaches during the summers at the Megatrend International University Vienna in Austria. He also teaches for the U.S. government area studies program in Washington, D.C. He is the author of numerous critically praised scholarly books on the Kurdish question, the most recent being Kurdish Historical Dictionary, 2nd ed., 2011; “The Kurds Ascending: The Evolving Solution to the Kurdish Problem in Iraq and Turkey,” 2nd ed., 2011; “The Kurdish Predicament in Iraq: A Political Analysis,” 1999; and “The Kurds and the Future of Turkey,” 1997. In addition, he is the co-editor (with Mohammed M. A. Ahmed) of “The Kurdish Question and the 2003 Iraqi War”, (Mazda Publishers) 2005; and “The Evolution of Kurdish Nationalism,” (Mazda Publishers) 2007. He has also published several other scholarly books and more than 150 scholarly articles on the Kurds, Turkey, Armenians, numerous other topics dealing with the Middle East, United Nations, and other topics in such leading periodicals as the Middle East Journal, Middle East Quarterly, Middle East Policy, Current History, Middle East Critique, Foreignpolicy.com, Third World Quarterly, Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, Orient, Insight Turkey, Worth (Robb Report), American Journal of International Law, World Affairs, Orbis, and International Organization, among others. In addition, he was a Senior Fulbright Lecturer in International Relations in Turkey. He also has held Fulbright awards for China and Israel. Currently he is the secretary-general of the EU Turkey Civic Commission, an NGO working within the European Union Parliament to promote further democratization in Turkey to facilitate its accession to the EU. He has been interviewed about the Kurdish question and the Middle East on numerous occasions by the international and national press.

Mohammed M.A. Ahmed

Dr. Mohammed M. A. Ahmed is the Executive Director and founder of the Ahmed Foundation for Kurdish Studies, a non-profit and non-partisan organization. He has published numerous articles, co-edited four books with Professor Michael Gunter, and authored two books: "The Kurds, Shiites and Sunni Arabs Compete for Supremacy” in Iraq and the “Iraqi Kurds and Nation-Building.” Dr. Ahmed has lectured at the University of Baghdad and worked for the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, U.N. Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA) in Beirut and the U.N. Department for Technical Cooperation in New York. He holds M.S. and PhD in Agricultural Economics.


Part I. Overview

Chapter 1
Canvassing the Kurdish Spring
Michael M. Gunter

Chapter 2
The Kurdish Spring and Its Impact on the Middle East
Ofra Bengio

Chapter 3
Central State Weakness and Kurdish Opportunities
David Romano

Chapter 4
The Kurdish Spring and the Changing Geopolitics of the Middle East
Michael B. Bishku

PART II. The Kurds of Iraq

Chapter 5
Kurdish Spring, Iraqi Kurdistan
Mohammed M.A. Ahmed

PART III. The Kurds of Turkey

Chapter 6
Turkey’s Kurdish Movement and the AKP’s Kurdish Opening:
A Kurdish Spring or Fall?
Marlies Casier, Joost Jongerden, and Nick Walker

Chapter 7
Springtime: The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the Quest for
Radical Democracy
Joost Jongerden and Ahmet Hamdi Akkaya

PART IV. The Kurds of Syria

Chapter 8
The Syrian Kurds in “Transition to Somewhere”
Eva Savelsberg and Jordi Tejel

Chapter 9
The Kurdish Autonomy Bid in Syria: Challenges and Reactions
Harriet Allsopp

PART V. The Kurds of Iran

Chapter 10
The Kurdish Spring: The Aftermath in Iran
Nader Entessar

Part IV. The Kurdish Diaspora

Chapter 11
Producing Knowledge and Controlling the Narrative:
Transnational Dimensions of “Kurdish Spring”
Vera Eccarius-Kelly

Chapter 12
Kurdish Spring in Diaspora? Austria and Its Kurds
Thomas Schmidinger

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