This rhetorical analysis will seek to better understand the topic of Kurdish independence in the middle east. It will be analyzing the opinion piece The next Kurdish war is on the horizon by Robert Fisk, a Middle East correspondent for The Independent. Furthermore, it will break down the topic presented in the article, Kurdish independence, and how unlikely it is to occur due to the influence of Syria and Turkey.

Thus, given the current state of events regarding Isis in the Middle East and the influence of Turkey and Syria in the region a peaceful Kurdish independence seems improbable. Firstly, it is paramount to look at the history of the Kurdish people as a background to the modern independence movement. The Kurds are an ethnic group living throughout the Middle East. The Kurds lack their own nation state and thus primarily live in Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey.

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The Kurdish people were primarily nomadic prior to WW1 but with the enforcement of boundaries post the Treaty of Versailles the Kurds had to settle into regions in established nations. While the post WW1 Treaty of Sevres initially had drawn up a Kurdistan out of the former Ottoman Empire the nation state of Kurdistan didn’t come about. This would lead to many issues for the Kurds as they were subjected to the governments of the Middle east many of whom view the Kurds as terrorists due to their desire for independence. One of the primary examples of these torments was in 1988 Iraq were Saddam Hussein killed almost 50,000 Kurdish people in his Anfal campaign. Thus, it is evident as to why the Kurdish people seek independence and a nation state of Kurdistan. In the modern Middle East the primary threat is Isis, a large scale terror organisation in Iraq and Syria. The Syrian government under Bashar al-Assad has fought Isis with help for US backed Kurdish forces. Recently, Kurdish forces liberated the major Syrian city of Raqqa from Isis.

However, once Raqqa was liberated the Syrian authorities began re-establishing a pro-Assad government within Raqqa even as Kurdish forces protected and patrolled the city. Despite their help in liberating the city Syria and its Turkish allies view the Kurdish forces as terrorists and separatists. Assad’s government called this Kurdish militia a “blatant attack” on Syria’s sovereignty. Fisk argues that because Syria and Turkey are opposed to a Kurdish state on their territory a peaceful solution to Kurdish independence is impossible. Furthermore, Fisk voices concern over the Americans dedication to their Kurdish allies in the quote “The new “force” will exist just so long as the Americans think it necessary” (Fisk, 2018). This suggestion poses a potential imminent danger for the Kurds as it will leave them isolated in a region where they are predominantly looked at with disdain.

Thus, Fisk argues the Kurds will be left to the Syrians and Turks and this may cause the next Kurdish war to be evident in the near future.   The rhetorical situation in the article is the recent creation of the Kurdish force designated as the “Border Security Force” which is backed by the United States. Furthermore, the Border Security Force will hold territory in northern Syria along the Syrian-Turkish border. The author Robert Fisk argues that despite the Kurdish forces vital role in helping defeat Isis the governments of Syria and Turkey will not permit a Kurdish nation state to be made out of their territory. The specific genre of this particular opinion piece is a report. This brings about a few key expectations for the reader. Firstly, it will focus on the subject matter rather than more personal elements such as the author’s experiences and perceptions. Secondly, the report has an agenda to persuade the audience into understanding and accepting the writer’s view on the subject.

Thus, Fisk attempts to demonstrate in this piece that the governments of the Middle East will not allow a Kurdish nation state to come into existence and why they will prevent this from occurring. These concepts serve as Fisk’s rhetorical stance in this piece and he uses primarily Ethos and Logos as well as an official tone to make this argument. Firstly, Fisk presents his Ethos as a member of a prominent British publication, the Independent. Furthermore, Fisk is himself an award-winning Middle East Correspondent who has resided in the Middle East for more than 40 years.

Throughout his Journalistic career Fisk has covered such prominent events in the Middle East such as five Israeli invasions, the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the Arab revolutions of 2011 as well as many other key events. In addition, Fisk joined the Independent in 1989 and holds a PhD in politics. In the article Fisk also references his own personal involvement in the matter as he talked to Syrian and Kurdish forces on the Turkish border a little over three years prior to the article. This extensive background in journalism and the Middle East establishes credibility to the reader in Fisk’s opinion on the subject matter. In addition to his use of Ethos Fisk also utilizes Logos heavily to argue his point that a Kurdish conflict is on the horizon. Fisk primarily brings up the Turkish and Syrian disdain for the Kurdish people as terrorists and separatists such as the Turkish President Erdogan’s promise to “suffocate” this latest “terror army”. This serves the argument that a conflict is on the horizon well as it demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the Kurds by the prominent governments in the Middle East. These governments firmly hold the belief to not cede territory or permit a Kurdish state on their borders.

This prevents a peaceful solution as the Kurdish people will have to fight if they wish to gain independence. Finally, Fisk’s official tone in this piece conveys a very academic stance on this issue that is instrumental in convincing the audience to believe his position on this subject. Fisk’s use of Ethos and Logos prove his credibility on the subject as well as factual evidence to back up his claims.

However, it is the way he presents the material to the audience that is so key to creating a convincing argument. Because Fisk uses an official tone in his article he comes off as academic and educated on the subjects presented. To further this his factual approach to addressing his stance hides personal bias and leads the audience to come to conclusions that agree with his assertions on the subject matter. In this way Fisk’s argument is greatly helped by the ability to write in an official tone using primarily factual information to lead the audience to believe his claims. Thus, in the opinion piece The next Kurdish war is on the horizon by Robert Fisk it is claimed that due to the nature of current events in the Middle East a Kurdish conflict is in the near future. Fisk, backed up by his appeals to the audiences ethos and logos  as well as a masterful use of official tone, presents a compelling argument that resonates with the audience.

This allows him to convince the reader that the anti-Kurdish stance of Turkey and Syria will cause conflict given the Kurds desire for an independent nation state. This conflict is also feasible as a new Kurdish military force backed by the United States is being created in Syria. Thus, Fisk’s assertion that a Kurdish war is on the horizon is both believable and backed in factual evidence to the extent that it seems very probable.


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