By Mesut Yegen
The Turkish state’s engagement with the Kurdish question had previously relied on three approaches: assimilation, repression and containment. In engaging with the Kurdish question, the state used the first two approaches inside Turkey and the third was used abroad. Since the foundation of the Turkish republic by Ataturk until the late 1990s, the Turkish state seemed satisfied with this policy. Kurdish resistance in Turkey had not become sufficiently powerful as to force a change in the state’s policy of assimilation and repression. Moreover, the international climate between the 1920s and 1980s had allowed an easy containment of Kurds outside Turkey. Throughout this period, Turkey, Iran and Iraq have, in principle, cooperated to contain the Kurds. The Treaty of Sadaabad, signed in 1937 between Iran, Turkey, Iraq and Afghanistan, commited the parties ‘to respect the inviolability of their common frontiers’, to refrain from acts of aggression against each other, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, and to prevent ‘the formation or activities of armed bands, associations or organisations to subvert the established institutions, or disturb the order or security of any part, whether situated on the frontier or elsewhere, of the territory of another Party, or to change the consitutional system of such other Party.’[i]
Signed with the encouragement of Britain in 1937, the Sadaabad Treaty remained binding after the Second World War when NATO and the USSR patronised international politics.