What would Turkey’s Kurds say about ‘Kurdistan?’

The Kurdistan map going around comprises of territories from four countries: Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey.

It is controversial who drew the map and when that map (there are different maps) was drawn and according to what it was designed. However, it is said that it determines the regions where the majority of the Kurdish population lives and the fields where the Kurdish tribes are located. This map, which had been drawn for the field of anthropology, later started being discussed as a political map.


Those maps re-appeared and were used during the independent Kurdistan referendum in Northern Iraq. This is one of the most significant matters that disturbs Turkey. No state would accept cities in its own territory to be a part of another country. Turkey would never accept it.

Separation has been the biggest fear, phobia and nerve ending of Turkey since the Treaty of Sevres occurred. Because it lost an empire by getting separated piece by piece. Terrorism of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) with an emphasis on ethnic identity for 40 years only added insult to injury.

Almost all the political formations and social segments in Turkey oppose the idea of separation. These social segments include the Kurds, too.

The referendum was celebrated in cities put on that map in Iran, Iraq and Syria, and crowded demonstrations were held. Those demonstrations were not only in Turkey. There might be those who believe people abstained from demonstrations due to the intense political reaction, the state of emergency and conventional tension in the country.  However, I slightly beg to differ.


Turkey’s Kurds are the most distant, the coldest and the most estranged group of the idea of an independent Kurdistan among the four countries. Because of this opposition, one part of the Kurdistan map comprising four countries is always missing.

The best example of this took place during the period of ditch-terrorism of PKK. The first reaction to the occupation attempt to declare autonomy in cities such as Cizre, Şırnak, Nusaybin and Sur, which are seen as a part of Kurdistan map, came from the Kurds living in the region.

It was Turkey’s Kurds who bravely said “no” to the PKK terrorists who knocked on their doors with guns to take them to Serhildan (rebellion) and sided with the state. That ditch-occupation caused such a big reaction and breakdown that votes for HDP decreased; PKK could not survive in the region and votes for the Justice and Development (AK) Party increased.

The biggest reason for this reaction among the Kurds is the fear of separation and becoming like Syria. The idea of being cut off from Turkey and being a part of another territory without Istanbul, İzmir, Ankara, the Mediterranean and the Aegean does not cross the minds of Turkey’s Kurds. If a survey is conducted, everybody will see how high this rate is.

The first example, given by those who do not want to understand this, is the politics conducted in the line of PKK/HDP. However, AK Party received so many votes from Kurdish people that could erase the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) in 2007. Again, in the last constitution referendum, we all saw that the referendum leaned toward “yes” with an increase in the votes of Kurds. That is to say, the shifts in votes have nothing to do with the idea of separation or an independent Kurdistan.

On the other hand, Kurds in Turkey witnessed the situation of the Kurds in Syria which was occupied and governed by the PKK. The words “God forbid; they want us to be like Syria” that I heard when I went to the region came from Kurds of Diyarbakır, Nusaybin and Cizre.


Why don’t Kurds want to be separated? Let me give this example: My father is a Kipchak Turk. The Kipchaks are a Turkish tribe such as the Oghuz tribe. They could not establish a state throughout history despite their high population. They have lived scattered around the Caucasus, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. If someone today were to tell me: “Ee will establish an independent Kipchakistan in those regions; join us,” I would say that it “defies logic.”

The situation is the same for many ethnic elements like me in Turkey. What Lazs, Circassians, Abkhazians and immigrants from the Balkans think, Kurds living in Turkey also think. This is our motherland, home. Leaving, separating and disintegrating home are logic-defying ideas. Those who defend these ideas are not worthwhile.


The thesis that the referendum in Northern Iraq will create a domino effect and that Turkey will face the same fate after Iraq falls to pieces creates a very strong impact in minds. It is also obvious that there are foreign countries who want to implement this thesis.

However, standing against this must be done very cleverly. Nationalist sentiments and identities of Kurds and Turks whose emotions, subconscious and experiences are extremely sensitive, and making announcements which damage them will greatly harm social peace.

Even though Barzani put himself and the Kurds in a very difficult position by making a false move to get rid of political and economic oppression, we should not make a similar mistake.

During the interviews that I conducted in the region, I learned that our people were beginning to become perturbed by the current discourse. A chance should not be given to those who try to blaze discussions over the Northern Iraq referendum through ethnic identity by stripping it of its political and geopolitical context.

And it is politicians who should primarily pay attention to this and make their announcements accordingly which will embrace people who live in this country, in Erbil, and who carry a great love for Turkey in their hearts. Before it is too late.