Kurdistan is an area in the Middle East where the ethno-cultural group known as the Kurds form the majority population. Kurdistan as a geographical area comprises parts on Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria (Houston, 2008). …
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Most of these countries (particularly Turkey) have issues with the formation of an autonomous Kurdish region for several reasons which will be discussed within this paper. The Kurds have their own unique culture, language and religious beliefs that set them apart from the general population of the countries in which Kurdistan is currently politically part of, and have been persecuted by these nations throughout history. One of the main issues in Kurdistan is the struggle to form an autonomous nation that recognizes the rights and rich history of these people. Interestingly, the Iraqi government recognized the state as early as 1970 (Houston, 2008), giving the Kurdish people within Iraq autonomous rule, but the other governments, in particular Turkey, have not recognized the area as separate and autonomous and this is a constant source of tension within the area today. Within Turkey, the Kurds are the largest non-Turkish ethnic group (Barkey & Fuller, 1998), a fact which the Turkish people perceive as the main reason why the Kurds are the biggest threat to Turkish national identity and perhaps why these people struggle within Turkey. This essay will focus primarily on the Kurdish people within Turkey and identify some of the key issues and solutions in this situation. Current events will be utilized to show the troubles within the area and highlight the positives and negatives of being a Kurd in modern Turkey. History of Kurdistan To properly understand the struggles of the Kurdish people in Turkey, it is necessary to have a complete historical background of the area and discuss how the language and culture of these people has developed over time. Not only is this an interesting standalone topic, it highlights some of the differences between the people of Kurdistan and the Turkish population, a source of great tension between the two cultures. Kurdish culture can be traced back to ancient history. It has been suggested that the ancient Kingdom of Corduene is analagous to the modern-day Kurdistan (Houston, 2008), and may of the ancient districts of this area correspond well to modern district. The first reference to Kurdistan (or Land of the Kurds) is found in a Christian document which describes the Christian Saints of the area, people who were driven out of the area by Pagans (Barkey & Fuller, 1998). The Kurdish language is believed to have developed from a dialect of Iran in the early centuries of the Common Era (Houston, 2008). From here on, there is a clearer history of the area. The Middle Ages saw the development of several Kurdish provinces such as Shaddadid, Marwanid and Rawadid (Meiselas & Bruinessen, 1997), all fairly autonomous regions which can be likened to modern-day emirates. They were under religious and political control of Khalifs, but this was indirect and not particularly forceful, allowing the Kurdish culture to begin to develop into something recognizable today. Islam was first brought to the area in 641CE by an Arab leader known as Utba ibn farqad (Meiselas & Bruinessen, 1997), and was followed by a number of uprisings, revolutions and conquests by Muslim leaders. It was the loss of power from the Byzantine and Sasanian empire by these Muslim caliphates that led to the Kurdish people being allowed to identify mountain administrators and set up independent states in the eastern Taurus mountain ranges, where Kurdish people can still be found today (Meiselas & Bruinessen, 1997). The modern history of Kurdistan is also fascinating. The 16th century brought many wars to the area and eventually the modern area of Kurdistan was split between the Safavid and Ottoman empires. Most Kurds lived in the Ottoman empire until World War I, when the Allied troops tried to split the area into several distinct
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