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Visiting Speaker - Dr Cengiz Gunes, The Open University

"Kurdish Resurgence in the Middle East and its Regional Impact"

This paper examines the Kurds’ rise as new regional actors in the Middle East and the impact this is having on the regional order.

Event details

Kurdish political activism has reached a new height in the beginning of the 21st Century with Kurdish movements in Iraq, Turkey and Syria establishing themselves as important political actors to become a significant force in the domestic politics of these states.  The consolidation of Kurdish autonomy in Iraq and the establishment of a Kurdish de facto autonomous region within Syria is adding to the Kurds’ growing influence in the region and enabling Kurds to forge stronger relations with regional and international forces.  Without a doubt the Kurdistan Region of Iraq has made much progress in the past 25 years in terms of building state institutions and strengthening its legitimacy internationally to become the most significant Kurdish actor.  The Kurds’ resurgence in the Middle East took an upward turn with the establishment of de facto Kurdish autonomy in Syria in January 2014.  In particular, the emergence of the YPG (People’s Protection Units) as an effective military force in the international military campaign against the IS (Islamic State) has enabled the Kurds of Syria to cultivate stronger ties with the international powers such as the USA.  The Kurds have a unique opportunity to consolidate their position and see their demands for Kurdish rights accommodated.  It hasn’t been easy for the Kurds to reach where they are but doubts persist as to whether their resurgence in the region is sustainable.  As the Middle East is undergoing a tremendous process of transformation and with the conflict and civil war in Syria and Iraq continuing to ravage the power and authority of these states, a question to be asked is will the Kurds be a new force in the region?  Will an independent Kurdish state emerge in the Middle East?

Cengiz Gunes completed his PhD at the Ideology and Discourse Analysis Research Programme, the Department of Government, University of Essex, UK.  He is the author of The Kurdish National Movement in Turkey: From Protest to Resistance (London: Routledge, 2012) and co-editor of The Kurdish Question in Turkey: New Perspectives on Violence, Representation, and Reconciliation (London: Routledge, 2014).  His main research interests are in the areas of peace and conflict studies, the Kurds in the Middle East, the international relations of the Middle East and Turkish politics.  Currently he works as an associate lecturer at the Open University, UK.

Cengis_Gunes___A4_Notice.pdf (516K)


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