The Kurds

The chaos in the Middle East and the battles to halt ISIS are as much about independence for the Kurds as about the creation of a Caliphate. Turkey’s policy in the present circumstances is to encourage the break-up of Kurdish solidarity.

From 1984 to 2000 the Kurdish insurrection in Turkey cost some 30,000 lives while the Turkish Kurd population embraces 20 per cent of the whole. Officially, Turkey argues that the Kurds are revolutionary terrorists. This explains how the Turkish army could watch the battle for Kobani across its frontier without making any move to take part in the fighting.

The last time there was a possibility of creating a Kurdish state was at the Versailles conference in 1920 when such figures as Winston Churchill advocated it. Whatever the eventual outcome of the battle for Kobani it will become a beacon of Kurdish resistance. Certainly, Turkey shows more concern about the rising cohesiveness of the Kurds than the threats posed by ISIS. Big Kurdish demonstrations in Istanbul and Ankara demonstrated the opposition of the Kurdish population to Turkey’s policies.

Four countries of the region have sizeable Kurdish populations: Turkey itself with about 15 million, Iraq with 6 million, Iran with 2 million and Syria the same. Thus there are 25 million Kurds in countries that have borders with each other. The biggest threat to Turkey comes from the autonomous Kurdish state in the north of Iraq; if it can effectively link itself with the Kurds in the south east of Turkey that would spell the break-up of Turkey and the defeat of Attaturk’s Policy. A landlocked Kurdish state of 25 million would completely upset the present alignments in the region, ISIS or no ISIS.

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