Kurdistan_Essay - Govt 131 TA: Chris Zepeda Kurdistan...

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Unformatted text preview: Govt 131 TA: Chris Zepeda Kurdistan 4/12/08 Kurdish Nationalism constitutes the biggest single political problem Turkey faces today 1 This notion, as voiced by Andrew Mango, of the severity of Turkeys Kurdish problem has been, and continues to be, echoed throughout the international community, becoming a major topic of discussion and influence on policy. I t is hard these days to discuss Turkish politics, policies, and/or international relations without, at the least, mentioning the Kurds. More often than not, the Kurdish situation has been a primary topic of concern of Turkish politicians and political debate in the past twenty years. This plight of the Kurdish peoples is rooted in both cultural and structural factors that have caused, and continue to support, the perpetuation of the Turkish oppression of the Kurdish people. On a cultural level, both the ethnic and language differences of the Kurds from others in Turkey has set them apart and attracts a certain level of ethnic oppression. Structurally, Turkey has a long standing history of strong military influence and continuously supports Kemalist ideals, both of 1 1 Andrew Mango, Turkey The Challenge of a New Role , (Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 1994), 31 which influence how the government handles the Kurdish situation as well as limits the ability of the Kurds to engage in political activity. Both of these factors have been compounded by the recent involvement of the United States in Iraq yielding an X factor in the midst of an already volatile situation. The Kurdish people as an ethnic group have occupied the areas of southeastern Turkey, northern Iraq, north western Iran, and northern Syria (an area referred to as Kurdistan) for hundreds of years. Throughout their history they have experienced the rule of many empires and have faced differing conditions under each successive one. During the middle ages, the Kurds, like most of the Middle East, converted to Islam which became a major part of their cultural identity. 2 With the fall of the Ottoman Empire shortly after WWI and the creation of the modern Turkish State, the Kurdish people, in the global spirit of anti-colonialism, have continued to seek independence from, or at least a degree of autonomy within, the respective countries in which they inhabit. The Kurds in Turkey constitute such a large percentage of the population and have therefore been viewed as a threat to the overall national unity of Turkey. 3 Furthermore, the Kurdish people have been resiliently resistant to Turkish policies of assimilation. For these reasons and more, the government in Turkey has often taken a negative and hostile stance when concerned with 2 2 Omer Taspinar, Kurdish Nationalism and Political Islam in Turkey , (New York: Taylor and Francis Group, 2005), 68-73 3 3 Mango, 33-34 the Kurds....
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Kurdistan_Essay - Govt 131 TA: Chris Zepeda Kurdistan...

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