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by Dween Billbas,
There have been few success stories in the Middle East as of late. Sectarianism coupled with the flamboyant rise of a radical Islamist State have seemed to dominate the headlines. In light of this threat the Kurds have managed to hold their ground on a 650-km front, that has heavily outstretched its personnel and resources. Iraqi Kurdistan, a semi-autonomous region within Iraq, contains about a quarter of the totally dispersed Kurdish population. They hold a pro-Western attitude with largely democratic and secular ideals, enjoying relative peace, stability and economic prosperity. A success story that has attracted international coverage, the Kurdish question is gaining momentum both on the battleground and on the international political scene.
But the Kurdish struggle is not strictly confined to the frontline of Iraqi Kurdistan. The Kurds are playing a pivotal role in the Middle Eastern political dynamic, influencing movements in two other countries with sizeable Kurdish minorities: Turkey and Syria. The Kurds critically hold the balance of power in Iraq and Syria, and are now in the midst of an insurrection in a potential move towards a democratic confedaralist system in Turkey.
In a turbulent time with uncertain outcomes, many questions will be raised. What happens if such an insurrection proves to be successful, and a new Syrian-Kurdish or KRG-like region arises in Turkey? If the ISIS threat is not contained in Iraq, and the instability forces the Iraqi state to breakdown, is an outlook of a fully independent Kurdistan in the North a realistic proposition? What does the success of Iraqi Kurdistan mean for Kurds in the surrounding region? And although the nationalistic sentiments seem to be less pronounced by the Iranian Kurds, will successes in Iraq and, less-so in Turkey trigger a movement in Iran too?
These, of course, are all fascinating issues that will be covered in engaging debates and panel discussions with a wide range of speakers, from both within and external to the LSE. The Kurdish society has created a platform for students who are eager to learn and voice their opinions in the discussion too. With recent support from the Cambridge, Westminster, KCL and SOAS Kurdish societies, LSE marks the latest university to represent and spread the Kurdish question onto another UK campus.
The society, however, provides more than just a political debate. It also marks the celebration of a diverse and rich culture which has, unfortunately, gone unnoticed. With Newroz looming, an ancient festivity marking the first day of the Kurdish calendar, fires are lit across all Kurdish regions to signify their unity, joy, and freedom against oppression, which the Kurds have continued to suffer. The society has plans to host a Newroz celebration, with traditional food and music.
The society will also raise awareness for the more immediate and pressing threats concerning the humanitarian crises and human rights infringements. Today, a crisis continues to exist which has affected Kurds in Sinjar, Turkey and North Syria. Last Sunday, as part of the Kurdish Society’s first event, a UK-wide rally was held against the Turkish government’s indefensible attacks directed at Kurdish civilians in its South-Eastern region. Amnesty International has recognised this systematic abuse of power as crimes against humanity. The UK student body in response has acted to raise immediate attention with a week of student action aiming to ‘#BREAKTHESILENCE’ on the Kurdish crisis in Turkey. Be aware of more events like this in the future, and if you would like to participate message anyone on the committee.
On a final note, like the Facebook page and spread the word!