Sunday, June 4, 2023


June 26, 2019 at 7pm – 9pm

Houses of Parliament

Join the Centre for Kurdish Progress for a discussion on Shifting Dynamics of the Kurdistan Question in the Post-ISIS Middle East in Committee Room 17, Houses of Parliament on Wednesday, 26 June 2019 from 7:00-9:00pm

The event will kindly be hosted by Sandy Martin MP, Labour MP for Ipswich.


Prof Abbas Vali, Emeritus Professor of Sociology
Dr Arzu Yilmaz, Independent Scholar
Dr Naif Bezwan, University of Klagenfurt, Austria, and UCL
Chair: Dr Janroj Yilmaz Keles, Middlesex University Law School

The Kurds’ resistance against sovereign state suppression, exclusion and assimilation and their struggle for legal-political recognition and the right to lead an autonomous life in their historical habitat have defined the formation and development of the “Kurdish question” in the modern Middle East.

The Kurdish quest for regional autonomy within the existing borders of Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria has been perceived by them as a “threat to their national security” and this has been used to justify their recourse to “military solution” to the Kurdish question, resulting in protracted wars, scourged earth campaigns, forced displacement, ethnic cleansing and at times mass extermination and genocide.

The current crises and conflicts in the post-ISIS Middle East including the crisis of sovereignty in Syria and Iraq, economic crisis and falling legitimacy of the Islamist government in Turkey, and the intensification of the Iran-US confrontation and the systemic crisis in the Islamic republic, have changed the terms and conditions of the representation and resolution of Kurdish question, albeit differently in different parts of the Kurdish regions.

Although the present conditions and prospects of long term national and regional instability go against the viability of military solution to the Kurdish question, the Iranian, Syrian and Turkish states have done little to change the official perception of the Kurdish autonomy as an imminent threat to the national security, political unity and territorial integrity of the nation-state in the Middle East.

Our speakers will be interrogating state structures and conceptions of national security in considering the necessary preconditions for a positive change to perceptions of the Kurdish question.

The views of our speakers to not necessarily represent the views of Kurdish Progress


Prof Abbas Vali held the chair of Modern Social and political thought at the Department of Sociology, Bogazici University in Istanbul( 2008-2017). He previously taught Political Theory and Modern Middle Eastern Politics at the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Swansea, UK (1985-2005). He then moved to Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan to serve as the founding rector of the University of Kurdistan Hawler (2005-2008). His writings include Pre-Capitalist Iran: A theoretical History (I.B. Tauris, 1993), Essays on the Origins of Kurdish Nationalism (Mazda 2003), Kurds and the State in Iran: The Making of Kurdish Identity (I. B. Tauris 2012), The Forgotten Years of Kurdish Nationalism in Iran, (Palgrave-Macmillan 2019). He is currently working on a new book: The Crisis of Sovereignty in the Kurdish Quest for Democratic Autonomy in Syria and Iran (Peter Lang 2020).

Dr. Arzu Yilmaz obtained her PhD in International Relations from Ankara University in Turkey, where she wrote her dissertation on Kurdish refugees in Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). Prior to this she received her MA in International Relations and MA in Gender Studies also from Ankara University. She spent six years in KRI as a lecturer in the Department of Political Science at the University of Duhok and as the Chair of the Department of International Relations at the American University of Kurdistan. Then she moved to Berlin in 2018 as an Istanbul Policy Center (IPC)- Mercator Fellow at German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). Dr. Yilmaz is the author of the book “Atruş’tan Maxmur’a: Kürt Mülteciler ve Kimliğin Yeniden İnşası” published in 2016 by İletişim Yayınları. Her academic areas of interest are the Middle East Politics, Migration and Gender Studies while she has published extensively on the Kurdish Question in academic journals.

Dr Naif Bezwan is currently working as Senior Scientist at University of Klagenfurt, Austria, and acting as Honorary Senior Research Associate at the Department of Political Science, University College London. He obtained both his master’s degree in Social Science and PhD in Political Science from University of Osnabrück, Germany. As a signatory to the Peace Petition, he was first suspended from his position at Mardin Artuklu University /Turkey – because of a critical expert interview on the Turkish military incursion into Syria in August 2016 – and then entirely dismissed from his position through an emergency decree issued in October 2016.

Dr Janroj Yilmaz Keles is an editor of the British Sociological Association’s journal Work, Employment and Society and a Senior lecturer at Department of Law and Politics, School of Law, Middlesex University, London, UK. He is also a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Women, Peace and Security, LSE. He received his Ph.D from Brunel University, UK. His research interests are international relations, peace and conflict studies, political violence, ethnicity and nationalism, statelessness, diasporas and migration. He has published several co-authored and single-authored articles in peer-reviewed journals including Antipode, Urban Studies, Journal for Ethnic and Migration Studies, The Sociological Review, Industrial Law Journal, Journal of Immigrant & Refugee Studies and Middle East Journal of Culture & Communication. In addition, he has written feature articles for University World News, Open Democracy and the European Union Foreign Affairs Journal. He is the author of the book entitled Media, Diaspora and Conflict: Nationalism and Identity amongst Turkish and Kurdish Migrants in Europe and one of the co-investigators of GCRF HUB – Gender, Justice and Security.,-justice-and-security


June 26, 2019 at 7pm – 9pm


Houses of Parliament


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