Name: Fuat Keyman-Sabanci University
Title: Türkiye in the New Middle East: The (Kurdish) State Question
Date: November 14,2017 –TUESDAY
Place: CASE Z-27
Abstract: Our globalizing world is presently in a ‘turmoil’. From economic crises to security challenges, from climate change to increasing inequality and poverty, and from violence to terror, to name a few, globalization is confronted by not one but multiple crises, occurring simultaneously and with devastating and severe consequences. Risk, uncertainty, and insecurity are the terms that we use to describe the present—that is, the multiple crises of globalization—giving rise to the global turmoil that is gaining an enduring quality and shaping global/regional/national/local affairs and developments. While felt everywhere in the world, it is the Middle East in general, and Syria and Iraq in particular, where the meaning and the implications of the global turmoil and multiple crises have recently coalesced. While the existing states face the risk of maintaining their territorial existence and sovereignty, the possibility of the emergence of new states is no longer utopia. Türkiye is not immune from these challenges and security risks; on the contrary, it is at the epicenter of this global shift. Both its domestic affairs and foreign policy are exposed to these developments. While expectations vis-à-vis Türkiye’s role and involvement in the Middle East increase, challenges originating from the Middle East confront Türkiye more than ever before. Of the ongoing unprecedented challenges it is the possibility of the Kurdish state, more accurately, the process of the Kurdish state building, that has been the most effective, bothersome, and critical to the Turkish state, and has occupied the central place in public and political debate. In this talk, I will suggest that it is true that as the tectonic stones have moved in the Middle East, as well as at the global scale, Türkiye as a pivotal actor/regional power has the potential to contribute immensely to the possibility of stability and peace; and moreover, Türkiye can play this role by combining soft and hard power, humanitarian efforts and military engagements, and conjectural-flexible alliances with its visionary and historical anchor with the West, that is, with the transatlantic alliance and the European Union/Europe. Yet, it is equally true that without tackling effectively with the (Kurdish) state question in the Middle East, Türkiye cannot deliver its positive and constructive contribution.