March 16, 2016 Wednesday
11:30 FASS 2034
Abstract: Since the Kurdish rebellion in Iraq in the early 1960s, Turkish policymakers have been concerned about the possibility of similar developments taking place in Turkey, where a large Kurdish minority exists. Therefore, from the 1960s onwards, Turkish foreign policymakers have presented the possible emergence of a Kurdish autonomous region or an independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq as an existential threat to Turkey. However, under the AKP government, Turkish foreign policy towards the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has been gradually desecuritized. In light of Turkey’s experience, this paper explores the role of the individual leader vs. the domestic and regional context in desecuritizing foreign policy issues. Although there is a vast literature on securitization and desecuritization, scholars have yet to sufficiently explore the role of individual leaders—desecuritizing actors—vis-à-vis the context in the process of desecuritization. This paper helps fill this lacuna by exploring Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s efforts in desecuritizing Turkey’s policy towards KRG.