Kurdistan is not a recognized state

By Ambassador Serdar Kilic

A recent Washington Times special section includes a distorted map of the region straddling the borders of Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria.

The map features a transnational region depicted as so-called “Kurdistan,” which does not exist and thus constitutes a grave falsehood that misinforms your readers. Every other label on the map is either a physical geographic feature or an internationally recognized state. By presenting a nonexistent, hypothetical entity alongside and on the same footing as internationally recognized states, the map gives the erroneous perception that “Kurdistan” is a state or a political entity.

“Kurdistan” is not a state or a political entity of any kind. Over 25 million Kurds live across the Middle East, including in Turkey and they are all citizens of the countries in which they reside. There is no internationally recognized “Kurdish State” that rules over a defined territory populated by Kurdish people — one of the minimum criteria required under international law to claim statehood.

For decades, Turkey has fought a separatist terrorist group called the PKK, which was formed to carve out an independent, Marxist-Leninist state and which uses violence and intimidation on Turkish citizens of Kurdish descent as well. Since 1984, more than 40,000 people lost their lives to PKK terrorism, with 343 civilian deaths since July 2015 alone. PKK is recognized as an international terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the EU.

Such distorted maps that violate the territorial integrity of Turkey and other countries in the region play into the hands of terrorist groups such as the PKK. They also inflict a grave injustice on victims of terrorism and those who have been fighting to defeat this menace.