The Kurdish Policy Imperative

Kurdish politics may no longer be dismissed as the isolated grumbling of tribal militias or leftist insurgents. The new prominence of the Kurds in the affairs of the Middle East and Turkey demands attention.


Events in the past 40 years have transformed the profile and potency of the Kurds, whose influence is critical to the future of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Kurdish social and political dynamism affects these key states to the extent that managing the ‘rise of Kurdistan’ has become an enduring feature of Middle East politics.


Kurds have been treated solely as ‘problems’ within established states, but increasingly vibrant expressions of Kurdish ethno-nationalism have quickened the cross-border currents of Kurdish politics and society. The complex regional interplay of Kurdish groups, state actors and geopolitical interests make it imperative for governments to consider the Kurds in their foreign policy towards the Middle East.


Major strides in Kurdish studies have been made in recent years. This book brings together leading scholars to analyse critical aspects of Kurdish politics in Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey and examine how these intertwine with wider regional and international concerns.



Robert Lowe is Manager and Research Fellow of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Chatham House.

Gareth Stansfield is Professor of Middle East Politics and Director of the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter, and Associate Fellow of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Chatham House.

Chatham House – Independent Thinking on International Affairs (2010).


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