|At the end of WWI, the Kurds were overlooked by the peacemakers as they laid the groundwork for new nation-states. This despite the fact that the Kurds have inhabited the Zagros and Taurus mountain ranges since the 2nd millenium B.C.; 2000 years before the Arabs entered northern Mesopotamia and 3000 years before the Turks entered Anatolia (Asian Turkey).
The violent Kurdish separtist movement in Turkey is well known. Spearheaded by the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party), the movement has made headlines in the international press for at least the past few years. Such news has kept tourists and travellers away from the southeastern and eastern regions of Turkey.
The PKK have been fighting for a Kurdish state in a war that has claimed some 15,000 lives. Most Kurds in Turkey have more modest wishes, however—for Kurdish language newspapers, Turkey-based Kurdish television programming and a Kurdish education system.
Following the arrest and subsequent sentencing to death earlier this year of the PKK leader, Abdullah Ocalan, the situation only got worse. All of Turkey was deemed by some to be dangerous as terrorist bombs went off in Istanbul and the PKK proclaimed that tourists were a target.
Following the devastating earthquake two months ago, however, Ocalan's brother, Osman Ocalan, speaking for the PKK said, "We are laying down our weapons, never to take them up again. The PKK will never fight again." Previous similar statements had been regarded by the Turkish military with skepticism. But this time they seem to be taking the PKK seriously. The Turkish Chief of Staff indicated that the military wouldn't object if the Turkish government decided not to implement the death sentence passed on Abdullah Ocalan in June. This came as a surprise to the PKK. It now seems both sides are willing and eager to work out a political solution to the conflict.