Turkey's parliament approved by a large majority on Wednesday a government request to allow troops to cross into northern Iraq to crush Kurdish rebels based there. Are we going to allow WW III to happen right before our eyes? This is not something that was not imagined before the Iraq war. Everyone knew this was a possibility. We cannot act surprised when this happens.
The Kurds have a long history with Turkey. The Kurds are a large and distinct ethnic minority in the Middle East, numbering some 25-30 million people. The area that they have inhabited--referred to on maps for centuries as "Kurdistan"--spans modern day Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. Half of the Kurds reside in Turkey, where they comprise over 20 percent of the Turkish population.
Modern Turkey's founder, Mustafa Kemal (better known as Atatürk--"father of the Turks"), enacted a constitution 70 years ago which denied the existence of distinct cultural sub-groups in Turkey. As a result, any expression by the Kurds (as well as other minorities in Turkey) of unique ethnic identity has been harshly repressed. For example, until 1991, the use of the Kurdish language--although widespread--was illegal. To this day, any talk that hints of Kurdish nationalism is deemed separatism, and grounds for imprisonment.
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