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Nagehan Alçı

KURDISTAN AND TURKEY

Nagehan Alçı 01 July 2014, Tuesday
Turkey has been scared of the idea of Kurdistan for years and our official discourse was based on this fear. Let alone mentioning the state of Kurdistan, even the words "Kurd" or "Kurdish" were almost banned in this country. But those days are now long gone. Thanks to the AK Party, Turkey has now evolved into a country that respects and accepts the Kurdish language and culture, so much so there are now Kurdish departments at Turkish universities.

While such positive steps are being taken in Turkey and the government is on the verge of completing the Kurdish reconciliation process, which will end the PKK terror and ensure permanent peace in the region, there is an ongoing conflict in our neighboring country Iraq. However, this disorder in Iraq is actually empowering the federal Kurdish region in Iraq. Iraqi Kurdistan has been the region that has developed the fastest and the most consistently since the end of the Iraq War; steadily, step-by-step it is becoming a proper state.

In the old Turkey, such new developments would be considered terrifying. However, when we look at the development of the federal region over the last nine years, a very clear picture emerges: Iraqi Kurdistan has improved its relations with Turkey, and by obtaining its infrastructural needs from Turkey it has almost turned into a hinterland. They regard Turkey as their guarantor, as their protector and in a manner, "an older brother." They have trusted Turkey in the tough, chaotic region they are trying to survive within.

The Kurdistan region has become the most advanced region in today's Iraq with the backing of Turkey, regardless of the tough time they are facing due to the Maliki government's mistakes and the ISIS threat. Therefore, I am personally against the claim that the foundation of Kurdistan would be to the detriment of Turkey and pleased to see that this belief is shared by some powerful names of the Turkish government.

One of the advocates of this claim is the vice president of the AK Party, Hüseyin Çelik. In an interview he gave to the Financial Times Çelik said, "Before, an independent Kurdish state would be considered as a reason to declare war in Turkey. Moreover, even the word Kurdistan was enough to cause a stir and backlash," and added, "Now we have to accept that this state that is being formed is called Kurdistan and if Iraq is divided, then they will have our full support, they are our brothers."

We need to congratulate Hüseyin Çelik for this bold statement. This is a rebellion against the extremely closed politics of fear which Turkey has suffered from for years. I also spoke to Hüseyin Çelik to understand this statement better. He said "due to Maliki's sectarian politics, Iraq is literally divided into three regions these days. If this continues, then the Kurdish will have the right to make their own decisions. This is the right of self-determination and Turkey has to respect this right and not be afraid of it."

This statement is also a sign of Turkey's self-confidence. Politics based on fear introduced conflicts and fighting instead of peace. Now, Turkey is set upon this stance and this is a development that needs to be supported.
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