Kurdayetî: Pan-Kurdish solidarity and cross-border links in times of war and trauma

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The advance of ISIL amid the horrors of the Syrian civil war has given impetus to the forging of political solidarity among Kurds across international borders. This article examines Kurdayetî, pan-Kurdish identification, and the way in which it is shaped by ongoing crises in the Middle East. Amid chaotic events, previously divided Kurdish populations have increased cross-border interaction and co-operation. In northern Syria, Kobani became a bellwether of pan-Kurdish hopes and fears, and a rallying point, with peshmerga from Iraqi Kurdistan passing through Turkey to help relieve the ISIL siege of the city. Meanwhile, Kurdish political groups, particularly the PYD in Syria and the Kurdistan Regional Government, have made strategic gains, raising prospects, in some quarters, of Kurdish independence. Kurdish military forces also have won international recognition (and some logistical support) for the significant role they have played in fighting ISIL. This, in turn, has heightened concerns among regional states, chiefly Turkey, which is traditionally wary of political advances for the Kurds. This article incorporates ethnographic data gathered in 2014 and 2015 in Diyarbakır and Istanbul, to analyze the surge in pan-Kurdish solidarity, confidence and political assertiveness, and the implications these have for the Kurds and the states that surround them.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-42
Number of pages18
JournalMiddle East Critique
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2018


  • Identity
  • ISIL
  • Kurdish question
  • Kurds
  • Syria
  • Turkey

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