Middle East Briefs

Parallel to the Center’s scholarly work, Middle East Briefs provides a brief analysis of a single issue at the top of the region’s political, social, or economic agenda. Targeted primarily at decision-makers and opinion leaders, the publication was launched in 2005.

Latest Brief

May 2022 – Mayors and Municipalities: How Local Government Shapes Kurdish Politics in Turkey

Muna Güvenç

Middle East Brief 148 (Summary) — The Kurdish movement in Turkey has long been associated with the country's rural south-east. But in recent years, it is the cities of the region that have been the crucible of a new Kurdish politics. In our latest Middle East Brief, Muna Güvenç explains how municipal elections have propelled pro-Kurdish parties into power in Diyarbakır and other cities, even as they have been prevented from winning representation at the national level. Once in office, pro-Kurdish parties have channelled the resources of city hall to support cultural centers, associations, and NGOs with explicitly Kurdish agendas, directly building their support base across class lines and indirectly infusing everyday life with visible signs of Kurdishness. Despite its electoral gains in the municipalities of south-east Turkey, the Kurdish movement's success is now threatened by a central government campaign to remove its mayors, purge its members from the bureaucracy, and ban its leaders from political activity altogether.

Read Middle East Brief 148 (PDF)

Muna Güvenç is an assistant professor of fine arts at Brandeis University and a faculty affiliate of the Crown Center.