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Published on: October 18, 2014
The Middle East Aflame
The Meaning of Kobani

Whether Kobani falls or stands, it has become a defining moment of nationhood and identity for Syrian and Turkish Kurds.

Henri J. Barkey is a professor of international relations at Lehigh University.
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  • Nathaniel Greene

    Let us not forget that it was the reptilian Henry Kissinger who betrayed the Kurds, on behalf of the United States, when he supported the 1975 Algiers Agreement between the Shah and Iraq – to the lasting shame of the United States.

    • Curious Mayhem

      That was a low moment, to be sure. But the abandonment of the Kurds started long before that, in the post-Versailles settlement of the early 1920s, after being considered one of the most logical and obvious Middle East nations to deserve a state. The banquet was done, and the Kurds were left nothing at the table.

      • Tom

        To be fair, the Kurds had been involved in the Armenian genocide, and not in a good way.
        That having been said, I don’t think anyone besides some of their neighbors had a problem with Croatia’s or Slovakia’s existence, and they were very enthusiastic allies of the Germans during WWII.

        • Curious Mayhem

          I remember that the Kurds and the Armenians didn’t like each other to begin with, and the Kurds played a negative, if limited, role in the genocide. It’s odd to think, though, since both were enemies of the Ottoman state.

          Croatia and Slovakia had wartime puppet governments run by local fascist movements. But those movements had not had wide support before the war. I think the inferences that are often drawn here are much less substantive than often thought.

          • Tom

            I was speaking in regard to why the makers of the Treaty of Versailles might have been leery of giving the Kurds a country, then pointing out that that didn’t mean that I thought the same conditions obtained.
            I should be less oblique next time. My apologies.

          • Eliyahu100

            the Ottoman state was a Sunni Muslim state and the Kurds are Sunni Muslims. Sultan Abdul-Hamid recruited Kurds into the Hamidiyyah cavalry which persecuted Armenians terribly. Bear in mind that the latter of Christians. I never saw anyone claim before you that the Kurds were enemies of the Ottoman Empire

          • Curious Mayhem

            I knew the Kurds were recruited into the Ottoman army by some of the emperors. But I think the Kurds also had significant friction with the Ottoman authorities as well, as the latter were always trying to exert control over the Kurdish mountains.

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