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Erdogan's Kurdish PoliciesBreak From Turkey's Past

Mustafa Akyol writes that Turkey's Kurdish policies represent a reorientation of Turkey's new political elite under the leadership of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the members of his ruling AK Party, as he stands in front of the portraits of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey, and himself during a meeting at his party headquarters in Ankara October 26, 2011. REUTERS/Stringer (TURKEY - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR2T7L8

At a time when Turkey's warm relations with the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) have reached the level of a strategic energy partnership, Abdullah Ocalan, the potential leader of a would-be Turkish Kurdistan, has called for a permanent peace between his armed followers and the Turkish government. This is no mere coincidence and is perhaps even a sign of an upcoming Turko-Kurdish axis that could alter balances in the Middle East. First, a brief summary is offered on how the current situation came to be.

From the establishment of the Turkish Republic in 1923 and into the 21st century, one could not speak of an alliance between Turkey and the Kurds for a very simple reason: Turkey did not acknowledge the existence of Kurds. In Turkey, this was manifested by a paranoid oppression of Kurdish identity. Abroad, the same mindset expressed hostility toward any kind of Kurdish political presence, such as the one in Iraqi Kurdistan. Kemal Ataturk's famous motto "Peace at home, peace in the world" was understood in part by most of his followers as "No Kurds at home, no Kurds in the world."

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