Turkey's New Neighbor
To the Editor:
I was disappointed to read Michael Rubin's recent review [MEQ, Spring 2006, pp. 77-8] of Brendan O'Leary et al., The Future of Kurdistan in Iraq, where he wrote that my chapter on "Turkey's New Neighbor, Kurdistan" "undercuts the collection's quality" because it "rehashes history but does not address mutual security, trade, and Tigris River water allocation."
I would ask that he read again pp. 227-9 where, despite what Rubin wrote, I do indeed analyze especially issues of mutual security as well as trade. My basic argument is that "Turkey needs to realize that as the more powerful partner it could become the natural leader and protector of either a national Kurdistan in a federal Iraq or an independent Kurdistan which would serve as a buffer between Turkey and possible Islamist-driven instability to the south" (p. 229). I also analyze how "Kurdistan's treatment by Turkey will be inspected by EU parliamentarians determined to ensure that Turkey is worthy of membership," and mention that "Kurdistan in Iraq and Turkey have joint interests in commercial cross-border cooperation" (p. 228).
I encourage others to read the rest of my article to judge the accuracy of Michael Rubin's characterization of it as one that simply "rehashes history." Since your reviews are so important, I am disappointed that he treated my article in such an inaccurate and cavalier manner.
Michael M. Gunter
Professor of Political Science
Tennessee Technological University
Michael Rubin responds:
I have reread the chapter but my assessment stands. The first two-thirds of Michael M. Gunter's essay contains little new and the concluding three pages—which he writes here to defend—elucidate little about the Iraqi Kurdish-Turkish interplay. In part, that is because, rather than discussing this on its own terms, Gunter views it in the context of Turkey's drive for European Union membership.
Discussion of the postwar period falls short in several ways. There are no facts or figures related to Turkish-Iraqi Kurdish economic relations. He ignores too many issues. Is it not important that the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan awarded oil exploration rights to two Turkish companies and asked another to build Sulaymaniya University's new campus? Was the decision purely economic, or was there a political component? What did the independent Kurdish media say?
Gunter quotes influential Turkish journalist Ilnur Çevik as praising cooperation but neglects to mention that Çevik quit as editor of the Turkish Daily News after his construction company won the contract to build the Sulaymaniya airport and a new Kurdish parliament complex. How many Turkish businessmen followed Çevik's path? What is the proportion of Turkish investment in Iraqi Kurdistan? How important is Iraqi Kurdistan for Turkish business? How has trade moderated politics in Iraqi Kurdistan? In Turkey? Does the intertwining of economies give the Turkish government more leverage or less? Might it dampen Iraqi Kurdish demands for independence? How does Kurdish autonomy affect Tigris River water allocation? Gunter does not say.In another forum, Gunter's essay would be useful but it falls short as a chapter in a book on The Future of Kurdistan in Ir