The Kurds, once marginal in the study of the Middle East and secondary in its international relations, have moved to centre stage in recent years. In Turkey, where the Kurdish question is an issue of national significance, and in Iraq, where the gains made by the Kurdistan Regional Government have allowed it to impose its authority, moves are afoot to solve ‘the Kurdish Question’ once and for all. In Syria, where the Kurds have borne the brunt of the Islamic State’s onslaught as they defended their three self-declared cantons of Afrin, Kobane, and Cezire, and in Iran, where they struggle to express their cultural distinctiveness and suffer disproportionately at the hands of the Islamic Republic’s security and intelligence services, the picture is less positive. Yet the situations in both countries remain in flux, affected by developments in Iraq and Turkey in a manner that suggests we may have to revise the notion of the Kurds being forever divided by the boundaries of the Middle East and subsumed into the state projects of other nations.
The contributors to The Kurdish Question Revisited offer insights into how this once seemingly intractable, immutable phenomenon is being transformed amid the new political realities of the Middle East.
Gareth Stansfield is Professor of Middle East Politics and Al-Qasimi Chair of Arab Gulf Studies at the University of Exeter.
Mohammed Shareef is a lecturer in politics and international relations of the Middle East at the University of Exeter, with expertise in Kurdish and Iraqi politics.