Tangled Loyalties: A Study of Kurdish Nationalism and the Partition of the Ottoman Empire

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Southern New Hampshire University
This essay analyzes the theoretical concept of nationalism in the post WWI era through the lens of the Kurds and the partition of the Ottoman Empire. The rhetoric of President Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points and how they are applied to the Middle East are analyzed, especially the idea of self-determination. The concept of nationalism is broken down to be understood as an arbitrary way to group people into sub-groups of race in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. By studying nationalism and the partition of the Ottoman Empire, it is determined that a nation-state must be founded on both global support and solidarity. If global support does not exist, a nation-state can be founded by force, as was the case for the Turks under Mustafa Kemal. Solidarity can be rooted in nationalism, but it does not have to be. It can be rooted in many things, including religion, which was the case of many Kurds who choose to unite with the Turks in their fight for self-determination. The Kurds ultimately did not unite, despite British aid, and the nation-state of Kurdistan was never created.