Eric jensen
Poli. Sci. (Third World Politics)
11/27/96
History of Turkish Occupation of Northern Kurdistan.
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 of them
came back..(Morris)." When the Arabs spread Islam to the Middle East in the
seventh century, most of the