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  • Print publication year: 2021
  • Online publication date: April 2021

23 - Tribes and Their Changing Role in Kurdish Politics and Society

from Part IV - Religion and Society


This chapter discusses the changing role of tribes in Kurdish politics and society. It focuses mainly on Turkey but also considers ‘Kurdish situations’ in Iraq, Syria and Iran. It provides a historical overview of the developments and suggests that the tribal factor has been one of the major determinants of Kurdish politics throughout the twentieth century. It is thus no wonder that French and British Mandate officers, as well as Turkish, Iranian, Syrian and Iraqi authorities, have paid specific attention to tribes and tribalism in Kurdistan. The sociopolitical developments in the second half of the twentieth century that have significantly transformed their role in Kurdish politics and society are highlighted before an assessment of their role in the current period is provided.