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The Kurds in Iran: balancing national and ethnic identity in a securitised environment
journal contributionposted on 01.01.2019, 00:00 authored by Shahram AkbarzadehShahram Akbarzadeh, Zahid AhmedZahid Ahmed, Costas LaoutidesCostas Laoutides, William Gourlay
The Kurdish population in Iran feels disenfranchised and excluded from the political system. Based on an original survey of Iranian Kurds, it is revealed that Kurds lack trust and confidence in the central government and do not exhibit any emotional connection with Iranian identity or the Islamic Republic of Iran. Overwhelmingly, survey respondents put their Kurdish identity and affiliations as the primary point of reference. This emotional and political disconnect with Iran poses a serious challenge to the incumbent regime. It is an affront to the official rhetoric of ethnic unity and Iranian solidarity that is reinforced by Islamic principles under the Islamic Republic of Iran. This has led the incumbent regime to opt for a security response to a clearly political challenge. However, as the survey data in this research reveals, the securitisation of Iran’s response to its Kurdish population is only widening the gap, and aggravating the situation. The securitised approach to Kurdish aspirations for inclusion and acceptance is a counterproductive strategy with significant risks for the Islamic Republic of Iran.