Join 3,430 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


"The Uncontainable Kurds"
February 11, 2007 9:49 AM   Subscribe

"The Uncontainable Kurds" (NYRB). Nice summary of recent Kurdish politics in Iraq, Iran and Turkey.
posted by stbalbach (21 comments total)

 
Sooner or later the US is going to wind up bombing them. Because everybody else in world already has...
posted by Artw at 10:09 AM on February 11, 2007


The article doesn't say much about the impact of the first gulf war and the subsequent sanctions on the Kurdish population. The economy in Eastern Turkey more or less collapsed as a result of the sanctions on Iraq driving a lot of Kurds into Istanbul, or out of the country. Virtually every "Turkish" taxi driver in Europe is a Kurd.

When the US leaves Iraq, Turkey is certain to invade and occupy the northern part of the country. An independent Kurdistan isn't in the cards. This, I think, is what makes the EU hesitant to extend membership to Turkey - no one in the EU wants a part of that mess.
posted by three blind mice at 10:28 AM on February 11, 2007


Well three blind mice, an obvious solution is to suspend Turkey from NATO and not allow it to join the EU until they allow the Kurdish parts of Turkey to be joined with ex-Iraqi Kurdistan — with Turkey subjected to UN sanctions and reprisals if it invades the latter new country. It's not ideologically sound for an anarchist to say such things, but such an approach (in long drawn out fashion) does seem to have worked over Kosovo.
posted by davy at 10:41 AM on February 11, 2007


The EU wants nothing to do with Turkey for a zillion different reasons. All of this stuff totally aside, they still wouldn't let them in. Despite any efforts they might make, Turks will never be considered western enough to be included as a part of Europe.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:55 AM on February 11, 2007


(What I just said is just how things came across to me when I was traveling through Turkey & Europe for 7 weeks last year.)
posted by miss lynnster at 10:58 AM on February 11, 2007


Extremely interesting article; thanks for posting it. Depressing on the whole, but there's one nugget of good news amidst the gloom:

Following the passage of anti-torture legislation, reports of torture in police stations and jails have dropped markedly.

Of course, that could easily be rolled back, especially if the military take charge.

Despite any efforts they might make, Turks will never be considered western enough to be included as a part of Europe.

I don't know about "never," but I'm afraid that's true for the foreseeable future, and Turks understandably resent it and are giving up on the EU, which is bad news for the Kurds (and of course for any Turks who don't buy into the conservative/military view of the world).
posted by languagehat at 11:27 AM on February 11, 2007


I really got the impression that the Turks don't so much resent it as much as they just don't get it at ALL. They really do feel they've become westernized enough. They even get upset about the harming of animals during the annual Eid slaughter now. But when you walk around Turkey (other than Istanbul), do you see Turkish women hanging out in the coffee shops and cafes? Not so much, the streets are still full of men. Attaturk may have inspired banning of the fez and headscarf, but my feeling is that until women are hanging out in cafes playing chess too, it's got a long way to go culturally.

If you have Turkish heritage & you live in Egypt, that immediately makes you higher class. If you have Turkish heritage and you live in Austria or France? You are a barbarian. Until that changes, I don't see them being viewed as equal enough to get into the EU.

posted by miss lynnster at 11:46 AM on February 11, 2007


Bruce Sterling noted The Other Iraq web site in November 2005. It's a shiny, U.S.-friendly Kurdistan.
posted by cgc373 at 11:52 AM on February 11, 2007


I don't see any reason why the Kurds shouldn't be able to have an independent nation in northern Iraq, and why such a place couldn't live in peace with Turkey.
posted by delmoi at 12:39 PM on February 11, 2007


If Bulgaria and Romania can be in the EU now, Turkey (if it continues its development) can be in within 20 years. Neither side is ready yet, but it's definitely not impossible.
posted by cell divide at 12:40 PM on February 11, 2007


I don't see any reason why the Kurds shouldn't be able to have an independent nation in northern Iraq, and why such a place couldn't live in peace with Turkey.

I'm guessing you're not a Turk.

it's definitely not impossible.

Nothing's impossible, but if I were a betting man I'd be happy to take your money.
posted by languagehat at 12:45 PM on February 11, 2007


languagehat, would you recommend two or three books—or, more conveniently, online articles—to get a sense of Turkish/EU conflicts? I read Orhan Pamuk's Nov. 2001 article, "The Anger of the Damned" (via MeFi, I think) and an article Bruce Sterling wrote about Cyprus for Wired in 1999, but that's close to it for me (discounting the link here, which was good, but more of an op-ed than a survey).
posted by cgc373 at 1:15 PM on February 11, 2007


Actually, the Wikipedia article is a good place to start; they have a nice collection of links at the bottom. I'm afraid I'm not familiar with books on the topic.
posted by languagehat at 2:37 PM on February 11, 2007


Cool. Thanks. (I'd read your comments as though you'd a few choice recommendations. No such luck! I'm on my own.)
posted by cgc373 at 2:48 PM on February 11, 2007


♪♫
Got the Kurds, got the surge and it's out of control,
Got the Kurds they want to purge, 'cause they're losing control,
Uncontainable Kurds I want to tell you all about it,
Uncontainable Kurds makes me scream and shout it,
I've got the uncontainable Kurds...
I've got the uncontainable Kurds...
♪♫
posted by oats at 6:19 PM on February 11, 2007


It is an unfortunate title. At least it's not "The Uncontainable Kurds and the Shiites"
posted by stbalbach at 8:59 PM on February 11, 2007


miss lynster said: ...my feeling is that until women are hanging out in cafes playing chess too, it's got a long way to go culturally.

By Western standards, perhaps. From your travels, are Turkish women generally dissatisfied about their situation?
posted by cenoxo at 9:34 PM on February 11, 2007


Generally, I found the women to be more hidden away so I had far less interaction with them. The men I met spoke more english, the women were usually serving me food or cleaning my room. When I was invited to eat in someone's home, the women weren't even sitting down and eating at the same table with me most of the time. Men were the ones to give me their opinions, so I just observed the women and noticed things as best I could.

As I said, Istanbul is different, things were more progressive. I actually sat on a bus next to the Turkish Salsa Dance champion, and she spoke wonderful english. Very cool girl. She was a different animal than the women I observed in remote Turkey. She seemed far more westernized socially, much more independent.

I understand Muslim culture and respect it... I don't expect it to be like mine. In Turkey they fight the muslim culture tooth and nail, but most people don't seem totally ready to be western either... so they seem confused.

Anyhow, the main issue here is how the EU feels about Turkey, not whether those Turkish women are happy. Still, if they sat down with me just once and spoke, maybe I could've asked. They were too busy serving me.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:39 PM on February 11, 2007


I don't see any reason why the Kurds shouldn't be able to have an independent nation in northern Iraq, and why such a place couldn't live in peace with Turkey.

Isn't "Kurdistan" also comprised of parts of Syria and Iran also?
Any chance they'd go along with a separate, autonomous Kurdistan?

miss lynnster: interesting. I know a female Turkish college student here in the States who's Muslim but seems pretty thoroughly Westernized...I'll have to make her aware of this thread -- if she's got time to read it between working full-time and taking classes. If she has anything relevant to add in writing, I'll try to post it here.
posted by pax digita at 6:20 AM on February 12, 2007


Isn't "Kurdistan" also comprised of parts of Syria and Iran also?

Yes.

Any chance they'd go along with a separate, autonomous Kurdistan?

No.
posted by languagehat at 6:38 AM on February 12, 2007


Although the comparison isn't totally valid, the question of the Kurds reminds me of the question, a hundred years ago, of the Poles. Poland had ceased to be an independent nation in 1795, having been partitioned between Russia, Prussia and Austria. During the time of partition, the Polish people (like the Kurds) maintained their distinct ethnic identity. There were movements to grant both peoples nation status after WWI, but the treaties following the ware were decidedly more favorable to the Poles than to the Kurds; from Wiki:

Following World War I and the defeat of Ottoman Empire, Kurds were promised an independent nation-state in the 1920 Treaty of Sèvres. However following the defeat of the Greek forces in the Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922), the Treaty of Lausanne was signed in 1923 in Turkey's favor. The larger area known as Turkish Kurdistan remained within Turkey and the southern areas around Mosul were put under direct British rule.

So the "partition of Kurdistan" continues. I realize they are just one of several peoples who represent distinct national identities but have no nation to call their own, but this may be their best and most publicized opportunity to push for statehood. The patriots of their cause realize this and will not let the opportunitely slip away easily. Because they are partitioned between Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria, any move to grant them nationhood will not be well received by their neighbors who will no doubt be worried about their Kurdish frontiers.

As a fan of history, I find it fascinating to watch it play out. If I were a diplomat on the world stage, though, I couldn't begin to come up with an equitable solution to this situation. I suspect this is true of the diplomats of the nations involved, and kind of expect some version of the status quo (a partitioned Kurdistan with no nation of their own).
posted by Doohickie at 10:39 AM on February 12, 2007


« Older Sunday sillibiz: Snackimals, really fancy fashions...  |  Track aircraft visually or lis... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments