The role of the Kurds in the Middle East: A regional factor of stability or instability?

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This article is featured in the ORIENT III 2018

The Kurds are more visible than ever in regional politics. Through their fight against the IS, they have gained significant political and strategic importance. They have established themselves as security partners of the West. They have become an indispensable factor of stability in regional politics. Nevertheless, they have so far failed to gain support for their historical aspirations for autonomy and independence. Beyond intra-Kurdish factors, the traditional anti-Kurdish attitude and alliance of the regional states (Turkey, Iran, Syria, Iraq) and the reservations of Western states, including the USA, the EU and Germany, play an important role. Current developments imply how vulnerable the situation of the Kurds is, but also how indispensable external support from the state world and internal Kurdish strengthening is in order to resolve the historical conflict over the future of the Kurds and to create more peace.

Gülistan Gürbey is head of research at Al-Bayan Center, a Baghdad-based independent think tank, where he focuses on institutional reform and Iraqi foreign policy.

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