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Picture courtesy of Leah Muskin-Pierret

William Beckham is participating in the New Initiative for Middle East Peace (NIMEP) at Tufts. NIMEP is a non-polemical student think-tank and outreach initiative aimed at finding progressive solutions to the historic conflicts in the Middle East. The program sponsor is Institute for Global Leadership (IGL). They sponsor a number of programs at Tufts and funded most of the students' trip to Turkey.

As part of this initiative, Will has been studying relationship between Iraqi Kurdistan and potential security repercussion of continued Turkish investment in the region. Will says, "I had never been to the Middle East before, nor had I ever set foot in a country that was predominantly Muslim. From the very beginning, I recognized that NIMEP was shoving me into a position I had yet to experience: not only would I have to gain my bearings in a country I knew little about beyond what I learned from my reading in the months prior, I would have to conduct in-depth interviews with dozens of informants to come back to the United States ready to write a substantial piece on potential political repercussions for Turkish investment in the Kurdistan region of Iraq."

Turkey has invested in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) region so much that Iraq as a whole has become Turkey's second largest trade partner. Turkey's relationship with the region, however, allows the local government to become quite powerful. Would it be possible that KRG could declare independence from Iraq? How does this emerging relationship affect Turkey's own Kurdish population? Could Kurdistan's development even lead to the resurgence of Kurdish militant groups, such as the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK)? 

Especially in light of Turkey's recent peace agreement with the PKK, Will's research question stands more relevant than ever and calls for more research. Will (now a rising junior) hopes to continue searching for answers as his Tufts career continues!