Kurdish Lobbying in the US: Strategic Framing of the Syrian Conflict

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Demir T.

13th Annual British International Studies Association (BISA) US Foreign Policy Working Group Conference, at Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, United Kingdom, 4 - 05 September 2018, pp.2

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • City: Liverpool
  • Country: United Kingdom
  • Page Numbers: pp.2
  • Recep Tayyip Erdoğan University Affiliated: Yes



Foreign policy lobbying is an important part of the US politics. Studies regarding the foreign policy lobbying in the US, thus far, have focused on the lobbies such as Israeli, Palestinian, or Albanians and their recognition attempts (Mearsheimer and Walt, 2009; Marrar, 2009; Koinova, 2011). However, Kurdish lobbying has not drawn much attention. The Syrian conflict was a cornerstone for the Syrian Kurds, particularly for the Democratic Union Party (PYD). The Syrian Kurds have been seeking for recognition as Syrian citizens with their Kurdish identity until the conflict. The developments in the conflict provided opportunities to the Kurds. This study is based on how Kurdish lobbying, particularly the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) lobbying, in the US tried to utilize the political opportunities such as the rise of ISIS and the US interests/expectations created by the Syrian Conflict. Situated with the wider field of ethnic lobbying, it focuses on strategic framing as crucial part of successful ethnic lobbying and as a result, frame resonance. Empirically, this is one of the first papers examining Kurdish lobbying in the US. Theoretically, the paper uses strategic framing as an ethnic lobbying strategy and measures strategic frames’ success from resonance perspective through the analysis of the Kurdish strategic frames. The paper claims that the rise/existence of ISIS and its atrocities assist the Kurdish strategic frames to resonate with the US policymakers and media at the level of discourse. Particularly, the centrality of the ISIS issue in the country and the Kurdish strategic frame’s compatibility with that perception eases the resonance of these frames and increase the visibility of the Kurds in the eyes of US policymakers and media at the level of discourse.

Keywords: Syrian Conflict, Ethnic Lobbying, Strategic Framing, Frame Resonance, Kurdish Question