Unraveling the Kurdish Conundrum

Unraveling the Kurdish Conundrum

The U.S. must understand the complex dynamics of the issue before it can begin to formulate a policy on the Kurds.


The Kurds have so far benefitted little from the Arab Spring, certainly not yet in Iran. The Kurds are the largest minority in the Middle East, making them the natural beneficiaries of the emergence of more democratic states. But the Kurdish populations in each country remain fractured with no apparent vision for their place in the region and no consensus on whether there should be one.

The United States will need to continue to weigh in with Iraqi Kurds, ensuring their aspirations do not get out of hand while encouraging efforts at mediation among Arab Sunnis and Shiites within Iraq and the Kurds in Syria. Once again, Ankara remains critical: if Turkey can consolidate its growing democracy by making progress with its own Kurds, it will create the basis for a better region, hopefully including a recovering Syria and a more stable Iraq. Washington should support Turkey in such efforts. Time may be growing short.


Morton Abramowitz is a senior fellow at The Century Foundation and a member ofThe National Interest's Advisory Council. Jessica Sims is a research associate at The Century Foundation.

Image: James (Jim) Gordon