Kurdish-Turkish Conflict

Kurdish-Turkish Conflict

The Kurds and Turks have been in conflict since the Ottoman Empire over two centuries ago. More recently however, the Kurds have been pushing for the creation of their own independent country called Kurdistan. In the mid 1970’s the Kurdistan Workers Party (the PKK) was founded by Abdullah Ocalan under the ideas of cultural autonomy and political rights for the Kurds. After a few years of spreading information around Turkey, specifically southern Turkey, the Turkish government started to crack down on the PKK and assassinated one of their leaders. This has sparked urban warfare which started in 1978 and continues to modern day, fueled by actions taken by both sides, as well as the flare up of conflict in nearby Iraq from the U.S. as well as an accusation that the Turks have allowed Islamic State forces to cross into Turkey in order to attack the Kurds and help give the Turks an upper hand.

The Turkish government has a collective force of almost a million, counting their armed forces, military, police, and guards, while the Kurds have less than forty-thousand at the highest estimate. The conflict has killed around seven thousand Turkish, twenty thousand Kurds, and destroyed over two thousand villages, and continues to rage on with no sign of stopping any time soon. In late 2012 there were alleged talks of peace between the Leader of Turkey and a captured leader of the PKK, however these were halted after a group of massive riots erupted into more violence across the country.

Our Identity and Independence class has looked at the history of conflict between different groups of people, as well as what happens when one group tries to enforce its culture on another. My paper will mainly focus on the history of the conflict between the Kurds and the Turks in order to better understand the difference between the two cultures and the driving force behind what caused such a massive uprising that has plagued the country for decades with no end in sight. Overall, I hope to gain insight into both cultures and take a look into how each group has operated in the past, as well as how they are currently operating given the state of that area of the world and Turkey trying to enter into the European Union.

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