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Kurdistan is an invisible nation، and the Kurds the largest ethnic group on Earth without a homeland، comprising some 25 million moderate Sunni Muslims living in the area around the borders of Turkey، Iran، Iraq، and Syria. Through a history dating back to biblical times، they have endured persecution and betrayal، surviving only through stubborn compromise with greater powers. Yet، like the Basques in Spain and the Chechens in Chechnya، they have yearned for official statehood—and in the denouement of the conflict in Iraq، they could take a giant step toward that goal. But will they?
As Quil Lawrence relates in his fascinating and timely study of the Kurds، while their ambition and determination grow apace، their future will be largely dependent on whether America values a budding democracy in the region، or decides to yet again sacrifice the Kurds in the name of political expediency. In any event، the Kurdish north may well prove to be the defining battleground in Iraq. At this extraordinary moment in the saga of Kurdistan، informed by his deep knowledge of the people and region، Lawrence’s intimate and unflinching portrait of the Kurds and their heretofore quixotic quest—their deep history mingling with the controversy and complex realities of the present—offers a vital and original lens through which to contemplate the future of Iraq and the surrounding Middle East.