This is why Erdogan is so eager to reach a deal with incarcerated PKK leader Öcalan: the Kurds in Turkey stand between an in-depth engagement between Turkey and the Iraqi north.
Iraq is not a nation that its subjects subscribe to. It is a sliced up piece of land that houses people who often enough don’t see eye to eye and who don’t share the same direction. The Kurdish north is a lot like Turkey, full of enterprise. Compared to Shia Iraq, the north is much more secular and westernized valueing jobs, profits, wealth and self-determination.
The gamble for Erdogan is whether he can create a Turk identity inclusive enough for Turkish Kurds to feel ok with. That instead of empowering separatism in Turkish Kurdistan, he can awaken a Turkish identity in the Kurdish Iraqi north. It wasn’t that long ago that these areas were ruled by Ottoman governors. The notion that Turkey is a better administrator over these territories has merit. But if Erdogan manages to draw Kurdistan into the Turkish orbit, alarm bells will ring in various Arab capitals and Tehran, suddenly the outstretched Turkish hand will seem to have a lot of strings attached.
At any rate, Kurdish emancipation will be good for the Kurds and very good for Turkey. Turkey can evolve into a modern nation with equal rights for all citizens no matter their identity.
In the end the fate of the Kurds isn’t determined by borders, nor by Ankara, Baghdad or Tehran. It is determined by the Kurds and right now Ankara is best at courting them.