Turkey's championing of the Palestinian Arabs in their quest for an independent State has come back to bite Turkey with a vengeance - as Kurdish Statehood is once again firmly placed on the political agenda.
Turkey became the first country in the world with an ambassador to "Palestine" - after its envoy in Ramallah, Åžakir Özkan Torunlar, presented his Letter of Credence to "State of Palestine" President Mahmoud Abbas on 14 April 2013.
Incredibly this self-declared "State of Palestine" - admitted as a member State of UNESCO on 31 October 2011 and as a non-State observer to the United Nations on 29 November 2012 with Turkey's active support – lacks the four following criteria required by the 1933 Montevideo Convention to qualify as a State:
- a permanent population;
- a defined territory;
- a government; and
- capacity to enter into relations with the other states.
Turkey's swift recognition of this illegally constituted state for the 'Palestinians' – a people only created for the first time in 1964 by the PLO Charter – starkly contrasts with Turkey's consistent refusal to grant its 15 million ancient Kurdish community – part of the largest stateless minority group in the world - the identical right to their own State in Northern Turkey for the last 90 years.
Tim Arango sums up the current situation:
The Kurds - a population of roughly 30 million spread across Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria - have historically been treated as second-class citizens by autocratic governments and have long dreamed of their own state. Their aspirations were thwarted by Western powers after World War I, when new borders were drawn that carved up the Kurdish communities. But slowly, during the upheaval of the Middle East, the Kurds are now reaching for self-determination.
The battle for Kobani last year in Syria, which ended in victory for the Kurds after a month long American-led air campaign, drew Kurdish fighters from around the world and fanned the flames of pan-Kurdish nationalism.
In Iraq, after the Islamic State swept across the north of the country last year and captured Mosul, Kurdish forces took charge of Kirkuk, a city long contested between Kurds and Arabs that sits on a sea of oil and is considered something of a spiritual homeland for the Kurds.
Gains by the pro-Kurdish Peoples Democratic Party (HDP) in the last Turkish elections at the expense of Turkey's President Erdogan and his Islamist Justice and Development Party (A.K.P) have put added pressure on Kurdish demands for their own State.
Barham Salih - former prime minister of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region – has stated:
I think this is a milestone for Kurdish people and for Turkish politics. Not long ago, Kurds were officially non-existent, at best identified as mountain Turks. After decades of denial and persecution, the time for the Kurds has arrived.
Elif Safak - one of Turkey's most famous novelists - wrote in Time magazine:
It is one of the biggest ironies of Turkish political history that the Kurds - once belittled by the elites as a 'backward culture' - have become the major progressive force in the country.
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