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Experts Weigh In

Turkey, Syria, and the Kurds

Man in a group of protestors stands holding up a sign that reads "#DefendKurds"

 

Tashi Rabgey. Research Professor, Elliott School of International Affairs.

"The abrupt change in the US Syria policy has had immediate and devastating effects – from Turkey’s ethnic cleansing operations in Syrian Kurdish territories to the release of ISIS prisoners and destabilization of the region as a whole. Geopolitically, the position of Russia, Iran and the Assad government have been strengthened while US credibility and diplomatic leverage have plummeted to new depths. But as clear as these immediate consequences have been, the sudden reconfiguration of the region also raises questions about the infrastructures of governance that have given shape to the shattered Syrian state over the past eight years of conflict.

Most significant in this regard has been the Kurdish self-governing entity known as Rojava. Formed in 2012 as autonomous enclaves in northern Syria, Rojava grew in scale as Kurdish forces led the assault against ISIS and won back control of Syrian areas far beyond Kurdish territories. The Rojava administration eventually controlled a third of the Syrian state – an area larger than the size of Switzerland. In 2016, the de facto autonomous administration declared itself a new federated region in northern Syria and proposed an asymmetric system of governance for the Syrian state.  

While it lacked recognition and was rejected by the Assad government, the Kurdish-led regional administration managed to persist through the mayhem of war-torn Syria. Indeed, at times it appeared to thrive. Espousing democratic values of ethnic and religious pluralism, gender equality and even ecology, Rojava was, by any measure, an extraordinary political experiment at the heart of one of the most deadliest wars in recent memory. While it was also widely denounced for its connections to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the fact remains that Rojava drew attention to an aspect of statehood that is often overlooked in times of conflict: namely, the role of governance infrastructures in the provision of public goods, in gaining public confidence and in bolstering the social foundations of regional stability.  

With the geopolitical realignment of the region – and more Turkish aggression on the horizon – it is too soon to tell what will become of the Syrian Kurdish experiment with democratic governance and regional state-building. But it is right to acknowledge this de facto Kurdish-led autonomous administration and important to take note of its achievements for future prospects in structuring Syrian statehood."

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School Updates

Photo: Congresswoman Nita M.Lowey delivering remarks at the annual IPDGC Walter Roberts award for Congressional Leadership in Public Diplomacy

Representative Lowey Receives Award for Congressional Leadership in Public Diplomacy

The Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication has awarded the IPDGC Walter Roberts annual award for Congressional Leadership in Public Diplomacy to U.S. Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey, Chair of the House Appropriations Committee. This award is also accompanied by a $5000 grant from the Walter Roberts Endowment to Battery Dance, a program from her district. Read more about her work and this award on the Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication website.

Philippe Etienne, Ambassador of France to the United States

A Visit from His Excellency Philippe Etienne, Ambassador of France 

Ambassador Philippe Etienne joined the Elliott School of International Affairs for a breakfast conversation hosted by the Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies. His talk focused on France's perspective on the state of Europe and was followed by an open forum.

Students gathered in Lindner Family Commons to hear his remarks and ask questions on  topics ranging from the current French political climate to predictions about Brexit and evolving relations with China.

Photo: Award icon with a photo of "Of Privacy and Power" by Henry Farrell and Abraham L. Newman

Professor Henry Farrell awarded 2019 Chicago-Kent College of Law/Roy C. Palmer Civil Liberties Prize

Henry Farrell, Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at the Elliott School of International Affairs, and Abraham L. Newman, Professor at Georgetown University's Edmund Walsh School of Foreign Service and Goverment, were awarded a 2019 Chicago-Kent College of Law/Roy C. Palmer Civil Liberties Prize. This award was given to them for their recent book, Of Privacy and Power: The Transatlantic Struggle over Freedom and Security, which explores tensions between civil liberties and national security.

 


Jillian Dipersio

Jillian Dipersio

BA Candidate, International Affairs
 

"My research has focused on the social effects of desertification and drought. Through conversations with local professors, livestock famers, and government officials my hope is to propose policy solutions to desertification in the Sahel, a region in Africa."


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