Experts discuss creation of Kurd nation

By By Tina Siu

By Tina Siu

If the Kurdish population in northern Iraq and Turkey were to form an official nation, there is a strong possibility it would be the second non-Islamic state in the Middle East, Robert Olson said.

This topic, along with other issues facing the Kurdish population in the Middle East, was discussed during the opening presentation of the 2007 Middle East and Central Asia Politics, Economics and Society conference on Thursday.

“It’s a zigzag process but development in Kurdistan, Iraq and Turkey is historically unprecedented,” said Olson, a University of Kentucky professor. “There is lots of development in Kurdistan, but little development in Iraq proper.” Kurdistan is a term used to refer to the area of land where the Kurds live. The area overlaps parts of Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria.

The only other non-Islamic nation in the Middle East is Israel.

Olson emphasized the competition between Kurdish nationalism and capitalism. An independent nation may be founded in Iraq if the conditions between these two factors become sufficient.

Whether a Kurdish nation would truly be non-Islamic was a matter of debate among the international scholars attending the conference in the Union.

“Professor Olson took the first approach and in broad lines, I agree that there will probably be secular logic to follow the development,” said ner Daglier, an assistant professor at Cag University in Turkey.

The presentation helped others better understand the Kurds.

“I’m not very familiar with the situation in Kurdistan, but I have friends who were Kurds, so I understood some of the situations and it was a little more personal,” said Kyle Stegerwald, a sophomore in computer science and history.

Olson compared the Kurdish situation to the Zionist movement, which led creation of Israel 31 years later.

“The policies pursued by the U.S. lead to stronger state-formulating possibilities for the Kurds,” Olson said.

The Kurds can claim many different identities, Olson said, including Islamic.

“Political Islam is a dynamic dissenting force against reigning powers,” Olson said. “(The Kurds) recognize non-religious objectives they want to achieve and non-religious principles will remain dominant.”

The conference continues until Sept. 8. All the presentations are held on campus and are free and open to the public.

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Jarad Reddekopp

Dr. Robert Olsen, Kurdish Politics specialist from the University of Kentucky, delivers a speech at the Hinkley Institute of Politics to start off the Middle East and Central Asia conference.