Friday, October 18, 2013

International Conference: The PKK, Kurdish Nationalism and the Future of Turkey - Virginia Tech, Thursday November 7, 2013

International Conference: The PKK, Kurdish Nationalism and the Future of Turkey - Virginia Tech, Thursday November 7, 2013

Full Program: 

Tel: 202-378-8606
The Kurdish Question represents a longstanding battle between the state's authority and cultural identity group demands in Turkey. In this context, the Republic of Turkey is not different than any other nation-state in the world, because it was created as a territorial-based form of identity, based on the modern understanding of citizenship.  However, as a result of the collapse of the multiethnic and multireligious Ottoman Empire, the state has struggled to build a cohesive territory-based form of identity and citizenship.

European colonial powers attempted to divide Turkey, and to create an independent de facto Kurdish state in the Middle East. However, powerful cultural groups across the Middle East such as Arabs, Persian and the Turks, placed the Kurds in a powerless position, therefore the Kurds have no friends but mountains.  US involvement in the Middle East, such as with the Kurdish question and Turkey began after WWII as a result of the decreasing trend of European colonialism. The US approach was very similar to imperialist British foreign policy, based on the mentality of divide and rule. In the 1960s, Mollah Mustafa Barzani and some Kurdish groups from Northern Iraq established a close relationship with the State of Israel as  a result of the migration of Kurdish Jews from Iraq. This had the side effect of helping the Kurds to connect with the American political establishment inside the beltway. From then until now, different Kurdish groups have been used for the interests of imperialist forces,  at the same time that they are repressed by the nation-states of the Middle East. The cultural rights of the Kurds have been ignored by the state elites, who see them as a threat to national identity building in the Middle East. This has established a vicious cycle, and created an intransigent political dilemma for the Kurds as well as for Iranians, Turks and Arabs. Neither the Kurds nor Arabs, Turks or Iranians are responsible for the consequences of imperialism. It has led to political and social chaos in the region. During the occupation of Iraq by the US, Kurdish groups were used by the Neoconservative establishment and the Israeli lobby; for example, Barham Salih (PUK), Hoshyar Zebari (KDP) and KRG have had a close relationship with powerful lobby groups inside the beltway. In this chaotic political game of imperialism, Kurdish rights have been used as a tool of political manipulation against Middle Eastern states by the imperial powers. In this conference, we will examine the role of imperialism, the current conditions of the Kurds, and seek to understand the future trajectories of the relationship between the Kurds and Turkey.

By Tugrul Keskin

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