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Citizens of a Stateless Nation
The emergence of stateless nations around the world and their impact on geopolitical issues, both on a regional and a global scale.
With ethnic minorities such as the Basque and Catalonian separatist movements of Spain, the Quebecois of Canada, the Palestinians of the Middle East, and the Kurds of Iraq and Turkey all staking their claim to autonomy through acts of civil protest, shows of electoral strength, and even militarized means, the issue of stateless nations has become a global priority. The currently hostile engagement between Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, and their Israeli neighbors, demonstrates the consequences of ignoring the identity of culturally and ethnically unique groups. By studying the distinct circumstances underlying each of these four stateless nations, including their claims to sovereignty and grievances with their parent nation, it is possible to formulate effective solutions which may eventually effect the brokering of a peaceful and productive solution.
Bobb, Scott. "Turkeys Kurds Want More Freedoms, Autonomy." Voice of America [Washington,
D.C.] 20 Nov 2012. Web. 20 Nov. 2012.
Facal, Joseph. "Quebec's Political and Constitutional Status: An Overview." Bibliotheque
Nationale du Quebec. (1999): 1-37. Print.
Keating, M. (1997), Stateless Nation-Building: Quebec, Catalonia and Scotland in the Changing
State System. Nations and Nationalism, 3: 689 -- 717. doi: 10.1111/j.1354-5078.1997.00689.x. This scholarly article presents the findings of an empirical study on the electoral power of Quebec in Canada, Catalonia in Spain, and Scotland in the United Kingdom.
Minahan, James. Encyclopedia of the Stateless Nations: Ethnic and National Groups Around the World, Volume III L-R. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2002. Print.
Minahan, James. Encyclopedia of the Stateless Nations: Ethnic and National Groups Around the World, Volume II D-K. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2002. Print.
Rourke, John T., and Boyer, Mark A. "The Kurds and the Palestinians: The Causes and Effects
of a Stateless Nation." International Politics on the World Stage: Brief. 7th. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Humanities, 2007. Print. < http://highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/0073526304/student_view0/chapter4/in_the_spotlight_1.html>. This chapter from an expansive textbook on geopolitical issues focuses exclusively on the plight of the Palestinians and the Kurds, providing historical details and factual data on these ongoing humanitarian crises.
Watson, Max. "Stateless Nation." News From Within: Published by the Alternative Information
Center. 21, 2003: 4-8. Web. 20 Nov. 2012.
For as long as human beings have transformed naturally ethnic and cultural factions into organized nation states, the politically charged process of dividing the planet's limited territory has left certain groups without native land to call their own. The phenomenon of these so-called stateless nations has been produced by a confluence of geopolitical circumstances, but in all areas of the world there are cultural groups who refuse to recognize their preordained national identities. Ancient and competitive claims of ownership on the same holy ground have left the Palestinian people with an ever shrinking sliver of soil on which to stand, while the interventionist policies of international governance redrew historical borders, with the unfortunate Kurds becoming the odd men out in a post-World War I restructuring of the Middle East map. In Spain, where economic instability has spawned widespread social upheaval, citizens of both the Basque region and the Catalan islands have been inspired to form politically active separatist movements. Stateless nations are by no means restricted to the European continent, and in the industrialized, modern society of Canada a divisive debate has continually raged between the residents of Quebec, who are fiercely defensive of their French language and heritage, and the predominately Anglo national government. In each case, distributions of power made many centuries ago have proven to have lasting ramifications on the relations of neighboring civilizations, and only by studying the tragic state of collective purgatory endured by stateless nations can one begin to understand how entire cultures can be abandoned by the global community.
Having withstood the pressure of both holy crusades and modern warfare, the largely Arabic speaking, Islamic people who inhabit the ambiguous but ancient territory of Palestine have used thrust the dilemma of stateless nations to the forefront of geopolitical debate. The enmity between adherents of the Jewish and Muslim faiths can be traced to biblical times, with both religions laying claim to Jerusalem as their holy capital city. With control over the precious territory straddled by the Mediterranean and Dead Seas contested continually throughout the centuries, by the 1900's a growing philosophy known as Zionism compelled hundreds of thousands of Jews to reclaim their sacred site. In the 1930's and 1940's, "virulent anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany and elsewhere in Europe accelerated Jewish emigration to Palestine, swelling the Jewish population there from 56,000 in 1920 to 650,000 by 1948 (along with about 1 million Arabs)" (Rourke and Boyer), and when the highly combustible region was suddenly flooded with the flammable ideologies of nationalistic fervor, the resulting civil war was tragically predictable. Since the Israeli victory in 1948 redrew the borders in the most hotly contested region on Earth, what was once Palestinian controlled land has increasingly fallen under Jewish occupation, sparking repeated campaigns of terroristic guerilla resistance known by the Palestinians as intifada. Today, as Palestinians and Israelis once again take up arms to defend their right to exist, the world would be wise to heed the word of writer Zakaria Mohammed, who warned that "the dream of every Palestinian is to be a man who lives in his own space. This is the minimum existence of every human being, the lack of which causes us to suffer. We do not live like other men in the world" (Watson 5).
Another expansive culture which was victimized by the whims of a failing empire turned earnest nation builder is the Kurdish people, a unified assortment of Middle Eastern ethnic groups which share a language, religious beliefs and other important signifiers of collective identity. Living primarily in the often chaotic nations of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria, while enjoying a decidedly minority status in each country, "the fourth-largest ethnic group in the Middle East, the Kurds make up the world's most numerous ethnic group that has & #8230; no legal form of self-government" (Minahan 1056) with a population of more than 20 million people. This lack of autonomy for a group residing in such a volatile region has led to recurring episodes of violence against the Kurdish people, most notably from Saddam Hussein's sadistic Iraqi regime during the 1990's, and like the majority of their fellow stateless nations, the Kurdish people has been subjected to terrible oppression by many of their parent governments. Repeated calls for the formation of a Kurdish state have been lodged by diplomatic officials and international bodies, but "sporadic and continuing attempts to establish an independent Kurdistan have caused conflicts with the countries in which the Kurds live" (Rourke and Boyer). Today the Turkish government continues its controversial policy of employing aggressive tactics to combat Kurdish insurgents, who have long struggled "to revive traditional Kurdish culture, which has been under threat since the creation of the Turkish Republic nearly 90 years ago" (Bobb). The current combination of conflicts involving Kurds in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran reveals the complexity of solving the riddle of stateless nations, because "the Kurds are more an assemblage of clans than a united people, with great differences in religion, class and regional cultures & #8230; [a] disunity reflected in the myriad Kurdish guerilla armies fighting at cross-purposes, making statehood an almost impossible dream" (Minahan 1056).
In a defiantly declarative document released by the provincial government in 1999, Quebecois officials asserted that "the Canadian Constitution does not recognize the existence of the Quebec people" while reminding the world "yet, a national community that developed from the settlement of New France participated in the foundation of the Canadian federation and was at the centre of various pre-Confederation constitutional arrangements in colonial Canada from the beginning of the British regime (Facal 6). This subtle missive launched by the stateless nation of Quebec, the largely French-speaking province of…[continue]
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