Wednesday, November 12, 2008

ISS Note Raises Questions About Öcalan, Peace with KRG

From TDZ:
The chief operative of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Murat Karayılan, has met at least twice with officials from Turkey's National Intelligence Organization (MİT), and Iraqi Kurdish leaders are convinced that the terrorist group's leader, Abdullah Öcalan, is being controlled by Turkey.

These are some of the assessments offered by a European Union think tank specializing in security issues, the EU Institute for Security Studies (ISS). In an "institute note," prepared after a visit to northern Iraq in July, the ISS also said that the Iraqi Kurdish administration, which runs northern Iraq, has its own problems with the PKK, despite a widespread Turkish conviction that it tolerates and supports the terrorist group, which launches attacks on Turkey from its bases in northern Iraq. The report comes before a key meeting between Turkey's special envoy for Iraq, Murat Özçelik, and Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani in October.

The study also noted antipathy towards the Democratic Society Party (DTP), the main pro-Kurdish party in Turkey, which has recently had problems with the government. "It was interesting to see how much antipathy there was towards the DTP, which is widely regarded as being under the control of the PKK," said the note. "In the end, some argue, if Turkey acted more benignly and tried to follow a more reasonable policy, the DTP would be integrated into the country's political landscape, just like the ultranationalist Nationalist Movement Party [MHP] on the political right," it added.

. . . .

Kurdish officials meeting with the ISS delegation have stressed five "salient" points regarding their relationship with Turkey and the PKK, the ISS note said and listed them as follows:

“There can be no military solution to the problem but only a negotiated one; the PKK made a fundamental break with its ideology when it abandoned its commitment to separatism; the organization wants peace now in principle and is ready to hand in its arms; in order to achieve this, Turkey must agree to grant a real government amnesty, not a semi-amnesty as is currently the case and to recognition of the Kurdish identity and culture in the country; if, on the other hand, the PKK rejects a genuine offer, it would lose credibility with the Kurdish population and the [northern Iraqi] Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).”

The Kurdish administration has problems with the PKK because it needs to maintain good relations with neighboring Turkey to achieve development in northern Iraq. “The PKK is therefore an irritant which in the KRG’s view only worsens what are already complicated relations,” said the ISS experts. On the other hand, there are others who say the Kurds cannot afford to fight the PKK or that they should not have any responsibility in the shedding of Kurdish blood, as this would ultimately result in widespread protests.

Iraqi Kurds are calling for a peaceful solution and condemn Turkey’s military operations against the PKK in their territory. Convinced that the military option is not a solution, some even doubt that the PKK is really a Kurdish nationalist force at all. The ISS cited comments by Masrur Barzani, son of Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani, who is also the Kurdish intelligence chief. Accordingly, Barzani said the fact that Öcalan is in a prison on İmralı Island near İstanbul led to changes in his statements and made “him sound like a propagandist for Kemalists,” referring to the state establishment of Turkey. Turkey does not want to use its influence over him to improve the situation because “Turkey, or at least the military, has no interest in changing the situation.”
For full article, click here. For my most recent analysis of the PKK, click here. Also, interesting to look at are the historical relations between the Turkish "deep state" and the PKK, as well as the internal Kurdish politics at play in relation to the Ergenekon investigation. Revelations that the Turkish state is in control of Öcalan and/or is conducting secret negotiations with the PKK are nothing new in what is hardly a transparent relationship between Turkey and the PKK.

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