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The Implosion of the Kurdistan Dream Spells Disaster for Turkey

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For decades the existence of the Regional Government of Kurdistan in northern Iraq has off and on been a useful tool and a source of annoyance for Turkey. It sometimes seemed to be a moderating force in a region racked by the attacks of the radical PKK. But always there was the underlying suspicion that the Kurds were up to something. Something usually meant listening to the siren call of an independent Kurdistan, which might attract the interest of millions of Kurds living in Turkey.

For decades Turkey has lived with this ambivalence. In the end the fear of Kurdish statehood has dominated Turkish policy. The military success of the PKK-aligned Kurdish fighters in northern Syria has led to something approaching panic in the Turkish government and military circles. It then led to a full-scale apoplectic fit when the Kurds of Iraq held a referendum about whether to found an independent Kurdistan. The vote was overwhelmingly in favor of independence. But then there was a sigh of relief …