Turkey's strong support for a Palestinian state is a hypocritical irony that may come back to haunt it in the distant future.
On one hand it's responsible for the seedlings that grew into modern-day Israel and on the other it's doing all it can to repress the national aspirations of its own large Kurdish minority, while rooting for the creation of a Palestinian state.
Largely forgotten amidst all the international hype surrounding the Israel-Palestinian conflict is the ongoing persecution of one of the world's largest stateless minorities. Upwards of 30 million Kurds live largely segregated in Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria where they have undergone periods of persecution...some brought on by their uprisings of national liberation.
Even though the Kurds have Persian origins, their biggest community is in Turkey where a current 36-year insurgency has claimed the lives of 40,000 Kurds. Each of the nations where Kurds live have had their turns in repressing these people. Iraq's Saddam Hussein even attempted mass murder by poison gas.
Turkey's answer is something Israel doesn't attempt with its Arab population...forced assimilation through military conscription, with the result of Kurds in the Turkish Army being forced to fight their brother Kurds in the uprising.
Yet, it seems logical if and when a Palestinian state becomes a reality, the birth of an independent Kurdistan will be next on the Middle East agenda. The irony here is Turkey was the governing power that sold land in Palestine to Zionist Jews before WW1.
Unlike the Palestinians, who are Arabs mainly from surrounding Arab lands, the Kurds are a distinct non Semitic ethnic group. They existed as mountain dwelling nomads for hundreds of years in a cross border region called Kurdistan. One of the greatest Muslim warrior leaders Sultan Saladin was a Kurd.
After the Ottoman Empire was dissolved, Britain agreed to the possibility of a Kurdish nation being declared. However, this idea was rejected in 1923 by Turkish leader Kemal Ataturk, who put down the first modern day Kurdish uprisings. Since then the Kurds have remained one of the world's largest stateless ethnic groups.
The Kurds have one main thing against them...No oil. If they could control the flow of oil the odds of their gaining statehood would shorten. But wait! Don't the Kurds now control the oil-rich region of Iraq? And doesn't Turkey seek closer ties with the West? Euro-pressure may build on Turkey if and when things start popping.
As I said, if there ever is a Palestinian state, look for the Kurds to impress the world with their need for a national homeland, through increased military action coupled with political lobbying.
Yet, Turkey will dig in its heals and become even more repressive. One only has to recall the WW1 Armenian genocide by Turkey of up to 1.5 million people to know the Turks don't play by the western rule book.
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