The Kurdish National Movement Its Origins and Development By Wadie Jwaideh (Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press, 2006. 419 pages.)

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Othman Ali



A native of Iraq,Wadie Jwaideh founded the Islamic and Near Eastern studies
program at Indiana University (Bloomington) in the early 1960s and oversawits
rise to national and international recognition until his retirement in the
mid-eighties. Under his leadership, Indiana University became an internationally
renowned center for the study of Islam and the Middle East. His
counsel was often sought by many, including heads of state. Moreover, his
encyclopedic knowledge of Arabic, Islamic history, and culture was
unmatched. In 2004, his students and friends founded the Jwaideh Memorial
Lecture. This book chronologically follows the developments of the Kurdish
question from the suppression of semi-autonomous Kurdish emirates (principalities)
in the Ottoman Empire during the nineteenth century, through
the First World War and the Kurdish rebellions of the 1930s and 1940s and
the establishment and fall of the short-lived Kurdish Republic of Mahabad.
Although his main concerns revolve around the Kurdish nationalist
movement’s relative strength and relations to international politics in the
Middle East, he follows a comprehensive analytical approach and gives
the role of economic, religious, and psychological factors considerable
In his foreword, the well-known Kurdologist Martin van Bruinessen
writes that “many scholars have recognized its importance not only as a
study of the earlier phases of Kurdish nationalism, but also as a framework
for understanding later developments.” During the preparation of this study,
which was originally a Ph.D. dissertation for Syracuse University in 1960,
Jwaideh states of the Kurds: “Their behavior is one of the important factors
in the future stability and security not only of the Kurdish-inhabited countries,
but of the entireMiddle East” (p. xiv). I strongly agree with Bruinessen
that this statement is more relevant today than ever; current events in Iraq
only serve to bear out how far-sighted Jwaideh was about the Kurds’ role in
the modern Middle East ...

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