I find constructivism most productive for thinking about the Tigris/Euphrates region. The conflict within this region is socially constructed by the clash of ideologies, cultures, and identities between and within nation-states. These things are the main driving forces of decision-making and action which shapes the process of social-interaction.
This theme most effectively explains the progression of the conflict within Syria. This conflict was a result of the Arab Spring, a movement driven by the Western values of democracy and freedom. The people involved in this movement had shaped their new identities around these values. This created the identity of “us” and “them.” As Assad attempted to repress these protests, the anti-Assad faction became separated ideologically. Different groups and sub-national identities emerged causing the Syrian opposition to become divided. This division prompted greater conflict between sub groups with the Sunni, Islamists, or Kurds regarded as the “us,” and the Alawiite, Kafir, or the Arab thought of as the “them.”
The role of culture and identity also explains the conflict between the Kurds and the Turks. The fight for a recognized identity most accurately explains the actions and motives of the PKK. The Kurdish conflict began when the Treaty of Sevres was rejected and replaced by the Treaty of Laussanne in 1923. This stripped the Kurdish population of their right to an autonomous region. After Turkey’s independence, the country introduced policies of “Turkification.” This imposed a Turkish identity while also refusing to recognize a Kurdish one. Kurdish language was ultimately banned and Kurdish publishing material was made illegal. Fast forward to today, the Kurdish people still refuse to accept the Turkish identity. The longstanding conflict between the Turks and the Kurds is rooted in clashing cultures and the Kurdish fight for an identity.