- Why Czechs don’t speak German Jacklyn Janeksela, BBC
- The Kurds, Sykes-Picot and the quest for redrawing borders Nick Danforth, BPC
- The language of the economy: prices Rick Weber, NOL
- A Balkan border change the West should welcome Marko Prelec, Politico EU
- The road to nowhere: Manbij, Turkey, and America’s dilemma in Syria Aaron Stein, War on the Rocks
- The U.S. and Turkey Scott Sumner, EconLog
- The Kurdish issue in Turkey Barry Stocker, NOL
- Is nationalism obsolete? Rachel Lu, the Week
Countries with significant Kurdish populations in the Near East: Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran.
Countries with significant Kurdish populations in the Near East that the United States has bombed or put boots on the ground in: Iraq and Syria.
Countries with significant Kurdish populations in the Near East that the United States has threatened to bomb and possibly invade: Iran.
Countries with significant Kurdish populations in the Near East that the United States is allied with: Turkey.
Three of the four countries with significant Kurdish populations in the Near East are (or was, in the case of Iraq) considered hostile to the US government, so the use of Kurds to further American Realpolitik in the region is almost obvious, until you consider that Turkey has been a longtime ally of Washington.
Suppose you’re a big-time Washington foreign policy player. Do you arm Kurdish militias in Syria, encourage continued political autonomy in Kurdish Iraq, finance Kurdish discontent in Iran, and shrug your shoulders at Istanbul? Seriously, what do you do in this situation?
You already know about Catalonia and its unsuccessful bid to secede from Spain late last year. (Check out our archives if you want to get up to speed.) A comparative approach is useful here. The unsuccessful secession movements in Africa have all been violent. The unsuccessful ones in Europe and North America started out violent but have evolved into democratic movements. The key to understanding this shift is the federative structures that exist, or don’t exist, in different parts of the world. The secessionist movements in Europe and North America are not looking to go it alone any longer. These movements don’t want full sovereignty. Separatists in Europe and North America want more decision-making power in federative structures. In the case of Quebecers, it’s Canada’s unique federation; for Catalonians (and the Scottish, for that matter), it’s the European Union. Once a federative body roots itself in a region of the world, separatist tendencies cease to be violent and they shift to more peaceful forms of resistance. Kurdistan provides a microcosmic example of this evolution, In Turkey, where the Kurds continue to be ignored and oppressed, violence reigns supreme. In Iraq, where the Kurdish region has been given autonomy and self-governance, grievances are aired out in the open, in the form of non-binding referenda and in arguments put forth in a free and open press.
I also spend a good deal of time explaining why the Confederacy is no longer relevant for understanding the world we live in. Please, check it out.