Turkey's Kurdish Predicament

Turkey's Kurdish Predicament

What Turkish nationalists fail to understand is that to millions of Turkish Kurds, the PKK and Öcalan are heroic symbols of rejection of decades of forced assimilation under the Kemalist republic. In other words, if today's Turkey has recognized the existence of Kurds as a distinct ethnic community, millions of Kurds believe this is thanks to the PKK and Öcalan's struggle. At a time when the Turkish national establishment insisted on calling the Kurds “mountain Turks” and crushed their demands for ethnic recognition, the PKK and Öcalan were the ones who paid a heavy price. Yet, the flip side of the argument is that today's PKK harbors unrealistic and maximalist demands. More problematically, despite room for political avenues, the PKK is still determined to use violence to achieve its goals of autonomy or federalism. At the end of the day, violence begets violence. This vicious cycle needs to be broken. Otherwise, Turkey's Kurdish predicament will still be there in the next 10 years.

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