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Spread across Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran, Kurdistan is one of the hottest geopolitical areas in the Middle East. It is a land inhabited by over 30 million people, representing one of the largest stateless "nations" worldwide.The Kurds play a crucial role in the region, and the so-called "Kurdish factor" has constantly been a key ingredient of recent Middle East crises: from the wars in Iraq under Saddam Hussein to the fight against the so-called Islamic State. Not to mention the strategic relevance that Kurdistan assumes as one of the oil-richest areas in the region.The history of Kurdish nationalism in Turkey is really the history of the war between two nationalisms: Kurdish and Kemalist. Ever since the founding of modem Turkey in 1923, Kurds in Turkish Kurdistan were systematically repressed, persecuted and fought against. The aggressive Turkish nationalism launched by Atatürk, the "father of the Turks", and maintained by successive rulers, was until today the basis of Ankara's policy towards the Kurds. Atatürk adopted a policy of assimilation or turkification, with the principal aim to abolish the Kurdish language and replace it by the Turkish. This objective is still today imaged as a "cultural mission", since Turkey considers Kurdish nationalism a challenge to the Kemalist vision. 

©1995 by Massimo Sciacca - All rights reserved

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