Turkey has a Kurdish problem.
It is hard to read anything about Turkey without reference to its “Kurdish problem.” The Kurds are a minority that does not share the ethno-nationalist myths of the dominant Turkish ethnic group. The decades-long war between the government and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) only reinforces the idea that there is a problem with the Kurds.
But while 20 percent of the country’s population is ethnically Kurdish, the overwhelming majority of them consider themselves Turks. Ankara’s problem is with the PKK and an offshoot of that group called the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK). The PKK was originally a separatist Marxist group with affinities for the Soviet Union; it began waging war against Turkey in 1984. In those 33 years, somewhere between 30,000 and 40,000 people have been killed. The TAK, too, has recently been responsible for a variety of attacks in Ankara and Istanbul. In response, the Turkish government has used the full force of the military and police to crush the low-level insurgency in the country’s southeast. The horrifying violence