The Historic Kurdish Legacy and the Current Conflict
Dr. Jill Derby
And a commentary by Ted Morse
The Ramada, 9:00 a.m., Tuesday, October 21st
The Kurdish people (about 30 million) are spread out over a number of countries surrounding the Kurdish region in northern Iraq. Recently, the idea of an independent Kurdish nation has received increased attention. However, given the implications of that for Iraq, Iran and Turkey, it is difficult to envision that occurring. Dr. Derby will direct special attention to the evolution of various Kurdish entities following WWI, and will assess the potential and implications of greater autonomy or independence for the Kurds. The changing and troubled relationship between Turkey and the Kurds amidst the current conflict with ISIS will also be addressed.
Ted Morse will add commentary on the current situation facing the Kurds—should they seek greater autonomy within Iraq? Is Turkey an implacable foe or potential ally in the fight against ISIS? Where does Iran fit in this equation?
The Kurds are largely Sunni Muslims, but include a sizeable Shia population, as well as other minorities such as the Yazidis. Regardless of religious orientation, the key foe of the Kurds at present is the Islamic State (ISIS), which appears to be on the verge of taking the Kurdish town of Kobani despite American and allied air strikes. Derby and Morse will analyze what actions the U.S. can and should take in the present crisis on behalf of the Kurds, in the short term assisting the Kurds militarily but in the longer term, should we support Kurdish autonomy within neighboring states or even a Kurdish nation? (An article in a recent New Yorker described US policy toward the Kurds as “swinging between rescue and abandonment”).
Dr. Jill Derby has a PhD in cultural anthropology and speaks Arabic. She lived and worked in Saudi Arabia and traveled widely throughout the region. She was recently named to the Board of the American University of Iraq in Sulaimani in Kurdistan. She works closely with Barham Saleh, the former Prime Minister of the Kurdish Republic and former Deputy PM of Iraq. Ted Morse is a retired U.S. diplomat and international consultant with 50 years experience in economic and political development in international conflict zones, including two tours in Iraq. He has extensive experience in the region, having lived and worked in several countries with large Muslim populations.
Please join us for what will be a very interesting discussion. A full breakfast will be served ($15 Members, $25 Non-Members, and $10 for students with ID and military personnel in uniform; free for WWII veterans). We recommend that you arrive by 8:30 to enjoy some breakfast, coffee and conversation.
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