Poll: Turkish Kurds Would not Emigrate to a Kurdistan 72% say US soft on Terror

The Turkish Daily News reports the results of a poll of persons living in 14 cities in southeastern Turkey, which has a large Kurdish population.

Only 1% of those polled said that they would prefer to live in an independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq rather than in Turkey (where they presently live).

Ominously, the percentage of respondents who said that the US fails to support Turkey in its fight against terrorism is 72.9 percent

Some 51 percent of urban southeastern Anatolians support the Turkish government in making an incursion into Iraq to stop PKK terror attacks, and about a third especially wish to target Iraqi Kurdistan leader Massoud Barzani. About 40% think instead that the Turkish government should talk to Barzani.

This low estimation of the US as ally and terror opponent comes from the way the US has backed Iraqi Kurdistan leader Massoud Barzani, who is widely viewed in Turkey (including among a plurality of Turkish Kurds) as giving safe haven to the PKK (Turkish Workers Party) terror group.

The respondents broke down this way by language:

Kurdish (Kurmanji): 52.8%
Kurdish (Zaza): 8%
Turkish (at home): 33.2%
Arabic: 13.5%

This breakdown might suggest that only 61% or so of the sample was Turkish Kurds. But in fact, many urban, educated Kurds speak Turkish, and some of the 33.2 percent that is Turkish speakers is probably of Kurdish ethnic origin. Although this ethnic diversity raises questions about how we should interpret some of the poll’s conclusions, some of the findings are so robust that they must cross ethnic lines (distrust of the US e.g.)

The self-reported politics of the respondents fell out as follows:

Right wing: 37.4%
Neither right nor left: 21.5%
Left wing: 10.8%
No comment: 13.5%

This is what they think the most important issues are facing their region, in rank order:

1. Unemployment (41.9%)
2. Terrorism
3. Education
4. Social and cultural underdevelopment

When the rest of the Turks think about the southeast, they tend to think terrorism is problem number 1.

Very few said that they thought Turkish-Kurdish ethnic relations were actually the source of the troubles in their region.

The separatist Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), which conducts guerrilla actions against the Turkish military and ordinary Turks in southeastern Anatolia where the poll was taken, has left wing origins. They don’t actually appear to represent virtually any urban Turkish Kurds. Other polling has found that Turkish Kurds (millions of whom have migrated west to work in factories) tend to vote just like other Turkish citizens living in their districts, and that there is not a pan-Kurdish political consciousness in Turkey.

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