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Kurds constitute one of the largest ethnic groups without a state of their own, with an estimated population of 25 to 30 million dispersed across Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. This article highlights the dynamics of Kurdish autonomy during the Ottoman era and outlines the driving forces behind the assimilation policy implemented towards the Kurds by the founders of the Turkish Republic. In doing so, the article points to rising fascism in Europe, the pervasive fear of further fragmentation of the Republic, and the legacy of the Ottoman millet system.