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 of them came back..(Morris)." When the Arabs spread
Islam to the Middle East in the seventh century, most of the Kurds gradually
adopted the religion but fiercely resisted Arab rule, much like today in modern
day Iraq and