T Nation

The Kurds: WHY???


For my more geo-politically more knowledgeable Brothers and Sisters...


Saddaam is ousted...and the Kurds begin to carve out a nice little "niche" for themselves in Northern Iraq.

There is relative Peace; the terrorist have been kept out; there is a prospering economy.

There is real talk in the International Community about there possibly being the creation of a Kurdish State. (It's a long shot, but the discussions are there).

Why the HELL would they go and provoke the wrath of the Turks with attacks across their borders?

I am obviously missing some historic perspective here.




I just heard Adm Fallon speak yesterday. From what he said, the Kurds have their own extremists not in line with the rest of their people



just from the back of my head, and without going for sources at the moment: the strength the Kurds have gained as part of their stabilising role within northern Iraq indeed enables them to get closer to their dream of a unified Kurdistan.

The problem is that part of that Kurdistan is what is now part of Turkey. For years there have been fights and a terror campaign by the Kurdish workers party PKK against the Turkish state (which got it banned in some European states), and have resulted in a continuous oppression by the Turkish state, which regards a Kurdish state as contrary to their interests. Also, if I remember correctly, Turkey has been running incursions into Northern Iraq even when Saddam was still in power to stomp on Kurdish separatists. This conflict isn't new, it's just getting into focus and gains intensity. Everyone in it is guilty, and a victim at the same time.

I would regard it as one of the many shifts in power that have come with Saddam being taken out of the picture, and I think it exemplifies the general problem with external interventions into any region with complex ethnic and religious conflicts:

  • the balance of power tilts; suppressed people rise (supported by larger powers who either feel entitled to foster an ally or bring some form of ideological change);
  • violence ensues - terrorism for some, a leap for liberation for others;
  • the international community either reacts too slow or is kept from helping effectively by one or more of the larger powers above;
  • over the long term, "solutions" are found or enforced which empower some, and create tensions with others, who will then be suppressed to retain the status quo, and the balance of power tilts based on some other intervention... just start at the top again;

This conflict has been around for a long time, and now it looks like it's ripe to become a major train wreck. Nothing new - just the usual: poor people in less fortunate regions will suffer and die, while the international key players try to sort out what benefits they can gain.



First of all, an independent Kurdistan will never happen. It's not only a long shot, it's downright impossible.

You say that terrorist activities have resulted in the Turks crack downs. That is inaccurate. Turks have been oppressing the Kurds for a very very long time and have actively been trying to eradicate their identity and culture. Remember how they were prohibited from celebrating Newroz? The Kurds have been fighting just to get their language legalized. Turks imposed bans on the use of the Kurdish language in education and Television. Journalists are jailed for using a Kurdish word (not two, not three, ONE WORD).

While most Kurds are content of the current status-quo, and are willing to forgive and forget (they've seen worse!), die-hard activists would rather "die free than live enchained". My roommate has been working there for a bit over a year now, and his depicition of the situation has never been one "relative peace and prospering economy". Order is maintained solely by heavy handed militias and corruption is the norm.


All of the above and the third country with millions of Kurds is Iran.

Iran is treating them pretty much the same way the Turks do and the Kurds fight a low level guerrilla war there too.

Terrorism if you will, trained, sponsored and encouraged by Israel and the US.

One of the groups to do that is the PKK, that has build four franchises, one for each country with a major Kurdish population: Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey.

The problem is of course how will the US condemn the same actions they agreed to in Iran, in Turkey and how will they treat a conflict between two allies that threathens to involve Iran?

Plus, the longer this goes one, the more likely the Kurds are to want a Kurdish state.


Thanks, guys!

VERY informative!

I should have known that "peace and prosperity" in this part of the World is a very relative term.

I also didn't completely understand the cultural and ethnic dynamics that were going on in that part of the World.

It's seems like just one more powder keg in an already volatile region.



Waiting to see how long it would take for this to turn into an anti-US, Israel thread. They have been fighting longer than we have been supporting them, that's for sure.

The second paragraph above is a good question though.


Here's a fun answer.



I am so sorry but Israel as well as the USA have supported them and that is part of the problem.

The same US that bitches and moans that Iran does the same.

Not in the US though but in Syria and Iraq so it is not quite the same.


Don't the Kurds generally target military as opposed to civilians in Turkey and Iran?


Zap, no they don't. They use what's generally seen as guerilla tactics and terrorism.


I think I remember that when they protested in Germany a few years back against their organisation being forbidden by demonstrations with the threat of self-immolation - while carrying their children in their midst.

As I said earlier - everyone is a victim and everyone is guilty at the same time.



I believe the PKK have more civilian deaths attributed to them then any other modern terrorist organisation. Also the're communists, and that is sooo passe!


I believe it comes down to territorialism and clanism.


That whole "workers party" thing bothers me.

I only have read about military deaths in Turkey and Iran as a result of their actions. Where/how are they killing civilians? Car bombs and the like? Border towns or big cities?


They were very careful though not to kill people in Germany when they blew up Turkish banks.


It's 'cause of the Jews....



Yes, they also run a paramilitary campaign - and if I read the background correctly, they changed their tactics from killing mostly civilians in the 80s towards military and police targets.

Here some more on the non-military victims of the PKK:

PKK 'behind' Turkey resort bomb
Victims included holiday-makers visiting the popular resort
Turkish authorities believe Kurdish PKK separatists planted Saturday's bomb on a tourist bus, said the UK ambassador.



I think they are a classic example of the understandable struggle against oppression and for liberty which has led to terrorism and violence. With Northern Iraq having been relatively quiet so far - almost a 'success story' - they are now really going for it now.



From what I have heard most of the PKK are not communist or even political. The original group set up to create a Kurdish socialist/Marxist state but they have deviated from this. Most of their popular support comes from them being "freedom fighters" and nationalists, not from Kurdish support for Marxism.

I assume that there are still some communists in the group but from what I understand they are a minority. Maybe this minority is still in control though? I don't know.