Paul Henze's dispatch [Sept. 19] from the Iranian-Turkish border was a welcome bit of news from that underreported area, but it misleadingly painted a picture of a peaceful Turkey graciously receiving Iranians oppressed by the Khomeini regime. Henze was reporting from Turkey's Hakkari Province, a hotbed of Kurdish insurgency bordering Iraq as well as Iran. Kurdistan exists politically only as a province of Iran, but it ethnically encompasses northern Iraq and most of Turkey's eastern provinces. For the first time since the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, the Kurds of those regions have simultaneously taken up arms against their governments. While their struggle for autonomy and human rights is largely ignored in the West and receives little ou tside support, it is a matter of serious concern in that region.
Simultaneous major disruptions (such as a Greco-Turkish crisis within NATO and post-Khomeini instability in Iran) could lead to the creation of a Kurdish state with Soviet backing. The Kurds have long regarded the Soviet Union with suspicion, but they would welcome intervention. Poor social services and a history of oppression have provided the right conditions for communist exploitation.
The Kurds pose a serious threat to both Turkey and Iran, especially if they join forces as they already have on the Iraqi-Turkish border. Many, if not most, of the Iranian refugees entering Turkey are Kurds, and their presence in eastern Turkey would be as threatening to Ankara as to Tehran. Turkey's policy of getting refugees away from the border is in keeping with a decades-old plan to deport as many Kurds as possible in order to destroy their cultural identity and defuse the powder keg in the east.
Recent history seems to suggest that attempts to resolve the Kurdish question have not only been counterproductive, but also contain the seeds of a major catastrophy for US interests in the Middle East. T. F. Mills Colorado Springs, Colo.
Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none individually acknowledged. All are subject to condensation. Please address letters to ``readers write.''