Sunday, May 17, 2009

Kurdish Question and the 2003 Iraqi War

By Mohammed M.A. Ahmed - Michael M. Gunter

The 2003 Iraqi war has heightened Kurdish nationalism not only in Iraqi Kurdistan, but also in Turkey, Iran, and Syria. Having enjoyed 13 years of self-government in the safe haven zone, which was created and protected by the United States, the Iraqi Kurds have embarked on an ambitious campaign to consolidate their political and economic gains.
The Kurds first sought safeguards from both the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), led by the United States, and from the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC), and now the Interim Iraqi Government with a view to preventing the recurrence of past atrocities committed against them by successive Arab governments in Baghdad. The Kurdish campaign has faced stiff opposition from their neighbors to their demand for the creation of a federal, democratic, and secular system of government in Iraq. While the Arab opposition inside Iraq is fearful that the introduction of such a system might lead to the disintegration of the country, the neighboring countries claim that granting the Kurds greater freedom in Iraq will incite their own Kurdish populations to demand the same. This book presents a balanced analysis of the pros and cons regarding the Kurdish demands.


Surging out of Iraq?

By Steven J. Costel (Editor)

Due to political realities, America seems about to take steps to leave Iraq within 1 or 2 years in large numbers - an outward surge. Yet because of the geopolitical significance of the region, vast oil reserves and the rampant terrorist activities - wholesale retreat will not be easy and perhaps not even desirable. This book brings together important analyses dealing with the current status in Iraq as well as projecting a post-war Iraq.



Trapped between the Map and Reality : Geography and Perceptions of Kurdistan

By Maria T O'Shea

Kurdistan exists as a cultural and political concept on many levels of discourse. Despite Kurdistan's divisions, lack of definition and the absence of a unified struggle for a Kurdish state, the concept survives the reality as a powerful mixture of myths, reality and ambition. This thesis analyses geographical and historical factors which have shaped Kurdish conceptions of identity. Historically, Kurdistan existed in the heart of an ethnically and geographically complex region, a marginal buffer zone between rival regional and colonial powers. Kurdistan's location was the key to its political and cultural developments. Many resultant features were to militate against the formation of a Kurdish state.



From Empire to Republic : Turkish Nationalism and the Armenian Genocide

By Taner Ak├žam

The murder of more than one million Armenians by the Ottoman Turkish government in 1915 has been acknowledged as genocide. Yet almost 100 years later, these crimes remain unrecognized by the Turkish state. This book is the first attempt by a Turk to understand the genocide from a perpetrator's, rather than victim's, perspective, and to contextualize the events of 1915 within Turkey's political history and western regional policies. Turkey today is in the midst of a tumultuous transition. It is emerging from its Ottoman legacy and on its way to recognition by the west as a normal nation state. But until it confronts its past and present violations of human rights, it will never be a truly democratic nation. This book explores the sources of the Armenian genocide, how Turks today view it, the meanings of Turkish and Armenian identity, and how the long legacy of western intervention in the region has suppressed reform, rather than promoted democracy.



The State and Kurds in Turkey

By Metin Heper

The current literature on the Kurds in Turkey is based on the assumption that since the 19th century the State has attempted to assimilate the Kurds and that this has been the cause of the intermittent "troubles" in Turkey. Metin Heper argues that this theory does not stand up to scrutiny given the many centuries of amicable relations between the State and the Kurds. He suggests that a theory of acculturation rather than assimilation better captures the real nature of State-Kurd interaction in Turkey, by not leaving any part of that interaction unaccounted for.



Wednesday, April 15, 2009


By Amnesty International

14 April 2009

Security forces in Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan Region operate outside the rule of law and regularly abuse their authority, according to a new Amnesty International report.
During a fact-finding mission to the Kurdistan Region in 2008, Amnesty International researchers found many cases of people arrested and arbitrarily detained by Asayish (security) officials, including some who were tortured and others who were forcibly disappeared and whose fate and whereabouts remain unknown.
Torture methods include electric shocks to different parts of the body; beatings with fists, cables and metal or wooden batons; suspension by the wrists or ankles; beating on the soles of the feet (falaqa); sleep deprivation and kicking.
Amnesty International has called on the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to hold those responsible for human rights violations to account.
"The Kurdistan Region has been spared the bloodletting and violence that continues to wrack the rest of Iraq and the KRG has made some important human rights advances," said Malcolm Smart, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme. "Yet real problems - arbitrary detention and torture, attacks on journalists and freedom of expression, and violence against women - remain and need urgently to be addressed by the government."

Hundreds of detainees who were held without charge or trial for several years have now been released but the authorities have failed to significantly curb the powers of the Asayish. They have also failed to rein in the Parastin and the Dezgay Zanyari, the security arms of the two main Kurdish political parties - the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) - which jointly comprise the KRG.

"The KRG must take concrete steps to rein in these forces and make them fully accountable under the law if recent human rights gains are to prove effective," said Malcolm Smart. "The authorities must do more to uphold media freedom and redouble their efforts to overcome discrimination and violence against women, and end the vicious cycle of so-called honour killings and other attacks on women by men who wish to subordinate them."

Amnesty International's report cites several cases of women who were murdered by male relatives in 2008. These include Cilan Muhammad Amin, 23, who was strangled to death, apparently by her brother, because of her suspected relationship with another man.
Another woman, Kowan Yunis Qadir, aged 17, was shot dead after she sought a divorce from her husband.
In other cases, women and girls are reported to have committed suicide because of violence, or the threat of it, from their male relatives, including 13-year-old Rojan, who burnt herself to death in March 2008 to escape forcible marriage to an adult man.
"Such cases show how much more still needs to be done by the KRG authorities to give women and girls effective protection against violence from those who wish to control their behaviour or force them into marriages against their will," said Malcolm Smart. "No effort should be spared to prosecute and imprison those who commit violence against women, and to make clear that those who perpetrate these crimes cannot escape justice.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Preventing Conflict Over Kurdistan

By Henri Barkey ( Carnegie Report, February 2009 )

The invasion of Iraq has surfaced long-suppressed nationalist aspirations among the Kurds, most notably the emergence of the federal Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). If ignored or mishandled, Kurdish aspirations have the potential to ignite violence and instability in Iraq, as well as the region, at a particularly delicate time, a new report by the Carnegie Endowment concludes. Henri Barkey calls for renewed attention to the Kurdish issue to prevent conflict and prescribes a fresh U.S. approach. The United States must move quickly—as American forces withdraw from Iraq, U.S. influence in the region will wane.


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