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Reviews of Kurds A Divided Nation in Search of a State

Reviews of previous editions

Injustice is part of human history. Morality plays no part; only interests do. The US is in the Middle East to protect and extend the life of the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement, and the Kurds were its victims. The Kurds will not get their independence unless that changes. Most acknowledge the Kurdish sense of nationalism, but it is so fragmented that it is going to take decades of political unity and massive investments to achieve. Gunter (Tennessee Technical Univ.) explains that very well and is skeptical given the endemic corruption of Kurdish leaders. In the meantime, the West will follow its interests. There have been other such secessions but only when the interests of the West were served. Will Kurdish secession and political unification serve the West? Will that antagonize the many states in the region? Gunter’s well-researched book clearly delineates the forest from the trees. There is no emotionalism or subjectivity. The best partsare the last two chapters, which bring much into focus, including the region-wide mayhem and the lack of a clear US policy, as well as the author’s personal trips to the region.”  —   CHOCE 

The story of Iraq’s Kurds is relatively well known; Gunter’s book sheds light on the less familiar Syrian Kurds, who number around 2.2 million and occupy three enclaves along the Turkish border. Syrian Kurdish militias have proved to be the most effective of Washington’s partners in the fight against the Islamic State (or ISIS) in Syria. But they are also closely aligned with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, a group that the United States has designated as a terrorist organization and that is anathema to Turkey, a member of NATO and a close U.S. ally.”--Foreign Affairs

“Michael Gunter, a veteran of Kurdish studies, in The Kurds; A Modern History, revis­its their continuing struggle for recognition and statehood. The Arab Spring, the ensuing civil war in Syria, and the sudden rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have made the Kurds and their plight more visible in the Western media. Kurds have gained unprecedented sympathy as a result of their fighting against ISIS, an entity that poses a serious threat to global security. The major argument in Professor Gunter’s book is that the rise of the Kurds and ISIS clearly demonstrates the failure of the state system in the Middle East created by the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916. This same state system turned the Kurds into the largest nation without their own nation-state. The Kurds’ unreal­ized desire for independence since the end of World War I created the “Kurdish question” for Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran. Michael Gunter traces the history of this question and of the development of the Kurdish national movements from the nineteenth century to today, when Kurds seem closer than ever before to their dream of statehood and self-rule.

The United States have been too slow to grasp the profound geopolitical shifts underway by insisting on maintaining the existing artificial boundaries of Iraq and Syria. In essence, Gunter suggests concentrating on the question of self-determination that was raised but inadequately addressed some 100 years earlier during the final years of WWI.—Kurdish Studies,

“Kurdish history is a fast-moving, tough-to-tackle topic in these first two decades of the 21st century. Cross-bedded loyalties, the fitful roles of outside observers and international players, and the oft-contradictory needs of reconstructing artificially drawn nation states in the aftermath of uprisings and invasions all greatly complicate the subject. Gunter offers a survey of what might be called the Kurdish Questions — note the much-needed plural! — of today, with chapters on the Kurds of Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran, as well as analyses of their contested relations with the US and non-Kurdish insurgencies. His most helpful contribution is twofold: a synopsis of Kurdish literary and linguistic identity, and his noted parallel between Kurdish nationalism, as it emerged from the Ottoman and Persian empires, and various European nationalist movements born from similar crumblings of the Austro-Hungarian and Russian empires.”— Aramcoworld