Güneş Murat Tezcür, 2019. “A Century of the Kurdish Question: Organizational Rivalries, Diplomacy, and Cross-Ethnic Coalitions,” Ethnopolitics 18(1): 1-12.

The Kurdish question remains one of the most important and complicated issues in ethnic politics in contemporary times. Taking the Ottoman Defeat in the World War I in 1918 as a historical critical juncture, the article sets the agenda for the special issue and develops a conceptual approach to think about the strategies of Kurdish nationalism. It goes beyond the state- ethnic minority antagonism that has been the most predominant theme in the study of Kurdish politics, and discusses how inter-organizational rivalries, diplomatic efforts in pursuit of external support, and domestic cross-ethnic coalitions have shaped the dynamics and outcomes of Kurdish nationalist struggles.


Güneş Murat Tezcür and Peyman Asadzade. “Ethnic Nationalism versus Religious Loyalty: The Case of Kurds in Iran,Nations and Nationalism.

When religious differences are present within an ethnic group, how do they affect the scope of its nationalist mobilization? The Kurds of Iran presents an ideal case to address this question given their religious diversity and varying levels of involvement in Kurdish nationalist movements. Building on an institutional approach to ethnic identity, this article argues that the dynamics of Kurdish ethnic mobilization in Iran reflect the nature of political exclusion in the Islamic Republic that is primarily based on sectarian affiliation. The article, based on original datasets compiled using several languages, including Persian and Kurdish, shows that recruitment into the Kurdish insurgency in Iran is significantly stronger in the Sunni Kurdish areas than the Shiite ones. While religious identity limits the appeal of ethno‐nationalism among the Shiite Kurds, it doubles the sense of marginalization among the Sunni Kurds and makes them more receptive to violent insurgent mobilization.


Güneş Murat Tezcür, 2015. "Violence and Nationalist Mobilization: The Onset of the Kurdish Insurgency in Turkey," Nationalities Papers 43(2): 248-266.

According to theories of nonviolent resistance, violence is counterproductive and undermines the ability of a movement to achieve mass support. At the same time, studies of ethnic insurgencies suggest that violence is the only available method of mobilization in political systems characterized by entrenched ethnic hierarchies. Engaging with these arguments, this article addresses a historical puzzle: What factors explain the timing and ability of the PKK's (Partiye Karkerên Kurdistan) rise as the hegemonic Kurdish nationalist organization in Turkey between the late 1970s and 1990? The article argues that studies that identify Kurdish nationalism as a reaction to repressive policies of the Turkish state without paying attention to prevailing social conditions and oppositional strategies fail to provide a satisfactory response. It argues that the rise of the PKK was primarily a function of its ability to gain support among the peasantry in deeply unequal rural areas through its strategic employment of violence. It also identifies four causal mechanisms of PKK recruitment based on rich archival and field research: credibility, revenge, social mobility, and gender emancipation.


Güneş Murat Tezcür, 2014. "The Ebb and Flow of Armed Conflict in Turkey: An Elusive Peace," in  Conflict, Democratization and the Kurds in the Middle East, David Romano and Mehmet Gurses eds. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 171-188. 

This chapter is an empirical study of the patterns of armed conflict and negotiations between the Turkish government and the Kurdish insurgency, the PKK with a particular focus on the developments in the post-1999 period. The evolution of the armed clashes suggests that the PKK uses violence to tool to renegotiate the terms of Turkish democracy to gain more power and rights for the Kurdish ethnic group. The AKP government's responses show that it pursues reforms to dampen public support for the insurgents and to attract Kurdish vote in its political struggles with other major actors. While the negotiations between the government and the insurgents resulted in ceasefire by early 2013, a more fragmented political environment providing Kurdish nationalists direct access to the executive power would be conducive to sustainable peace.


Güneş Murat Tezcür, 2013. "Prospects for Resolution of the Kurdish Question," Insight Turkey 15(2): 69-84.

The developments in early 2013 generated expectations that the almost three decades old armed conflict between the Turkish state and PKK would eventually come to an end. This article adopts a skeptical position and identifies two principal factors that make a peaceful settlement a distant possibility. First, the current military situation is a stalemate that is not ripe for peace. The costs of the conflict remain highly tolerable for both sides. Next, huge differences separate what the Turkish government is willing to deliver and what the Kurdish insurgency is willing to accept for disarmament. In particular, the PKK has no incentive to accept disarmament and demobilization given current geopolitical dynamics conducive to Kurdish self-rule.