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the kurds and History of Turkish Occupation of Northern Kurdistan.

History of Turkish Occupation of Northern Kurdistan.


    Eric jensen
    Poli. Sci. (Third World Politics)
    11/27/96

Since 1984, and especially the last few  months, the domestic problems of a
major N.A.T.O, Middle Eastern, and American ally state have come to the
forefront of the international news scene. That state is the Republic of Turkey
and it's primary troubles stem from the past seven decades of acrimonious
policies directed at the indigenous ethnic Kurds. The main problem, now, is the
Kurdish popular insurgency on it's hands, in Turkish occupied Northern Kurdistan.
The Kurdish question has long been covered up and denied by the state of Turkey,
but recent events has forced Turkey to concede that it has a serious Kurdish
insurgency on its hands. Turkey's inability to deal with this situation is the
result of the past seventy years of  cultural, political, and human rights
abuses directed against the Kurdish population. In fact, this "separatism" is so
out of hand that the Turkish government  has incessantly appealed to it's allies
and advisories alike to help counter the escalating Kurdish asperation to
succeed from the Turkish republic. Turkey's sputtering and deteriorating economy
is directly related to the long Kurdish struggle for independence. Turkey has
spent over eight billion dollars or twenty percent of her GDP to combat the ever
deteriorating predicament in northern Kurdistan, and should spend more in the
future(Laber). Because of the violence, the once prosperous tourist business of
Turkey, has now lost about $1.5 billion dollars annually since 1990. Many people
now talk openly of another possible military coup, there were three major
military coups during the last thirty years (Alister) These circumstances in the
state of  Turkey have also hurt her chances of ever joining the ever wealthy
European Union and battering its ailing economic situation. The depth of
Turkey's domestic and ethnic dilemma is one of the many that have arisen after
the end of the cold war, yet the cold war is a simple answer to a much more
complex one. The factors that have arisen to contribute to this civil war were
created far before Capitalism versus Communism, East versus West, or U.S versus
the Soviet Union. In order to really comprehend the holistic  situation in
Turkey one must first be familiar with the complete history of the Turks and
Kurds.

The Kurds of Turkey constitutes, by far, the largest ethnic minority group in
Turkey. The estimate of their population, however, are very dubious because of
the past Turkish policy to deny the very existence of any minorities within the
borders of her state. In fact, past Turkish rhetoric has been that there is no
official Kurdish problem in Turkey, because officially no Kurds exist. We can
ascertain that the kurds make up  between twenty-five and thirty-three percent
of the Turkey's population. This would put the Kurdish population about twelve
to twenty million (Morris). Because of past and present  forced Turkish
assimilation practices, the Kurds live in all parts of the country, but most of
the Kurdish population is concentrated  in the southeastern part of Turkey. They
represent a high percentage of the population in fifteen provinces and take up a
total of thirty percent of all of Turkey (Kendal). Economically, the Kurds are
the poorest inhabitants of the country. The per capita of a Kurd is one-tenth of
a Turk living in Istanbul; well below the poverty line (McDowell). While the
rest of Turkey has modernized and adopted some capitalistic practices, the
Kurdish areas, by contrast, are underdeveloped and exploited by feudal landlords.
The wealth of the area is "drained and channeled to the Turkish metropolis
(Kendal)." Much of the region is relatively unchanged since the last seventy
years of Turkish rule or has suffered even worse economically. The thirty
million Kurds of the Middle East have lived in Kurdistan before record of modern
history was kept. The very first mention of the Kurds in history was about 3,000
BC, under the name Gutium., as they fought the Summerians(Spieser). Later around
800 BC, the Indo-European Median tribes settled in the Zagros mountain region
and coalesced with the Gutiums, and thus the modern Kurds speak from as Aryan
language (Morris). The Kurds are mentioned by Xenaphon, a Greek mercenary, as he
retreated from Persia with ten thousand men in 401 BC, he says of the Kurds,
"These people, lived in the mountains and were very war-like and not subject to
the Persian king. Indeed once a royal army of 120,000 thousand had once invaded
their country, and not a man ... more

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TURKEY-KURDS conflict


Turkey's key internal conflict centers on the role of its large Kurdish minority, ethnically and linguistically distinct, in a state that constitutionally consists of Turks.
   This issue has been with Turkey almost since the foundation of the Turkish State in 1923. The Kurds were promised the creation of an independent state as part of the treaty of Sevres in 1920 but this part of the treaty was never ratified and Turkey has refused to recognize the existence of a separate Kurdish ethnic community within its borders.
   Even so, Half of Turkey's Kurds have moved from the south east to the western cities of Turkey and have increasingly become integrated into the Turkish economy. Fifteen million individuals of Kurdish origin presently live in the republic of Turkey and are striving to achieve legal recognition and to establish legal rights after having been subject to economic disadvantages and human right violations for decades.
   A large number of Kurds have immigrated to Europe, where they engaged in nationalist activities such as the PKK. Since 1984, an unofficial war has raged between successive Turkish governments and the Kurdish worker's party (PKK), An armed group trying to gain autonomy for the country's 15 million Kurds. This war resulted in something between 20,000 and 30,000 deaths, with innocent villagers, being subject to interrogation, torture, indiscriminate violence and even death.


For better understanding the international conflicts and the behavior of states, David Singer introduced the idea of levels of analysis. He distinguished between two broad levels: the macro level that explains the events from an international and global perspective, and the micro level that explains what happened from an internal point of view.
The Turkey-Kurds conflict could be described using various levels of analysis:

   At the micro-level, influences on decisions is determined by the structure of the Turkish government: Since the foundation of the Turkish state in 1923, the Turkish government has to cope with the policy born with the Turkish republic itself, that the national population has a single identity, that of Turks. So when Mustafa Kamal (Ataturk) began to form a Turkish nation state, it was not clear what constituted a Turk but soon, Kurds were considered as Turks and a policy aiming at the detribalization and assimilation of the Kurds was adopted The Turkish government's pursuit of full assimilation has led to the proscription of publications of any book, newspaper, or other material in the Kurdish language. Moreover, there has also been an instance of arrests of entertainers for singing songs or performing in Kurdish.
If we look deeply at the government structure, we can see that historically, Turkey lacks government openness. With the birth of the Turkish republic in 1923, the Turkish government did not satisfy the demands of the Kurds who were seeking independence. And since it is more of an authoritarian and closed system, the public opinion did no have any impact on the government.

   The non-governmental characteristics of the society as a whole also affect or condition choices. The Turkish society is the most politically advanced Muslim society of the world:
It has deep Muslim roots that affect its perceptions of minority status. Kurds for example, were never considered a minority under the Ottoman Islamic law because they too were Muslims: Islamic law recognizes only non-Muslims as officially constituting "minorities". Most Turks today do not accept the concept of Kurdish minorities within the country, but Turkey is putting effort to reconcile modern nationalism with traditional Islamic views.
As for the Kurds, they are bearers of a long tradition and culture of their own for perhaps two-millenium and have a strong sense of Kurdish identity. They are strongly attached to their culture and background and refuse to surrender their sense of Kurdish identity.
The Ideologies of the Turkish and Kurdish societies contribute towards the better understanding of the origin of the Turkey-Kurds conflict.  

   On the international or macro level, Kurds are distributed between Iraq, Iran, Syria, America and the former U.S.S.R and are minorities in all the countries in which they have been living for years. In Iran, Iraq and Syria Kurds have PKK bases. A closer analysis of these states indicates, however, that Syria has given the PKK by far the most overt support, ... more

the kurds and

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