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Palgrave Macmillan

Conflict, Democratization, and the Kurds in the Middle East

Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria

ISBN 9781137409980
Publication Date August 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

In Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria, central governments historically pursued mono-nationalist ideologies and repressed Kurdish identity. As evidenced by much unrest and a great many Kurdish revolts in all these states since the 1920s, however, the Kurds manifested strong resistance towards ethnic chauvinism.
What sorts of authoritarian state policies have Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria relied on to contain the Kurds over the years? Can meaningful democratization and liberalization in any of these states occur without a fundamental change vis-à-vis their Kurdish minorities? To what extent does the Kurdish issue function as both a barrier and key to democratization in four of the most important states of the Middle East? While many commentators on the Middle East stress the importance of resolving the Arab-Israeli dispute for achieving 'peace in the Middle East,' this book asks whether or not the often overlooked Kurdish issue may constitute a more important fulcrum for change in the region, especially in light of the 'Arab Spring' and recent changes in Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria.

David Romano holds the Thomas G. Strong Chair in Middle East Politics at Missouri State University, USA. He is the author of The Kurdish Nationalist Movement (2006). He writes a weekly political column for Rudaw, an Iraqi Kurdish newspaper, and has spent several years living in and conducting research in Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria.

Mehmet Gurses is Associate Professor of Political Science at Florida Atlantic University, USA. His research focuses on democracy and democratization, ethnic and religious conflict, post-civil war peace building, post-civil war democratization, and oil and democratization.

Introduction – The Kurds as Barrier or Key to Democratization; David Romano and Mehmet Gurses
1. Turkey, Kemalism and the 'Deep State'; Michael Gunter
2. Iraq, Arab Nationalism and Obstacles to Democratic Transition; Ozum Yesiltas, Florida International University
3. Kurds, Persian Nationalism, and Shi'i Rule: Surviving Dominant Nationhood in Iran; Gareth Stansfield
4. The Syrian-Kurdish Movements: Obstacles Rather than Driving Forces for Democratization; Eva Savelsberg
5. Democracy, Civil War, and the Kurdish People Divided Between Them; David T. Mason
6. Communal Groups, Civil Conflicts, and Democratization in Latin America; John A. Booth, University of North Texas
7. Democracy and Self-Determination in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq; Nicole F. Watts
8. The Ebb and Flow of Armed Conflict in Turkey: An Elusive Peace; Gunes Tezcur
9. The Iraqi Kurdish View on Federalism – Not Just for the Kurds; David Romano
10. Between a Rock and Hard Place: The Kurdish Dilemma in Iran; Nader Entessar
11. The Emergence of Western Kurdistan and the Future of Syria; Robert Lowe
12. From War to Democracy: Transborder Kurdish Conflict and Democratization; Mehmet Gurses
13. Ankara, Erbil, Baghdad: Relations Fraught with Dilemmas; Ofra Bengio

David Romano, Missouri State University, USA
Mehmet Gurses, Florida Atlantic University, USA
Ofra Bengio, Tel Aviv University, Israel
John A. Booth, University of North Texas, USA
Nader Entessar, University of South Alabama, USA
Michael M. Gunter. Tennessee Technological University, USA
Robert Lowe, London School of Economics, UK
David T. Mason, Castleberry Peace Institute, USA
Eva Savelsberg, European Center for Kurdish Studies (ECKS), Germany
Gareth Stansfield, University of Exeter, UK
Güneş Murat Tezcür, Loyola University Chicago, USA
Nicole F. Watts, San Francisco State Universitym, USA
Ozum Yesiltas, Florida International University, USA


'Leading experts on contemporary Kurdish affairs bring us up to date on the prospects for democracy and peace for Kurds and the states in which they principally reside. With sensitivity to the cultures and histories of the Middle East, essays closely analyze developments inside each country and in transnational Kurdish interactions. Truly comparative and theoretically informed by the larger scholarly literature, this collection is a valuable resource for scholars interested in comparative ethnic politics, nationalism and self-determination, democratization, civil war, and civil peace.'
- Philip G. Roeder, University of California, USA
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