Newly appointed PKK chief threatens government with end to peace

Murat Karayılan speaks at a press conference held in northern Iraq on April 25 to officially declare the PKK’s withdrawal from Turkey.
One of the chiefs of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) has said that if the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) continues to behave as it has been in the past few months, the ongoing settlement process might be irrevocably damaged.
The PKK's larger network, the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), changed its top brass recently. It appointed Murat Karayılan, a long-term senior commander, to a body it calls the “executive council” of the KCK. In his initial statements following his new position, Karayılan said the settlement process began last year in October through talks between the government and the PKK's imprisoned leader, Abdullah Öcalan. In March, Öcalan ordered PKK militants to leave Turkish territories. However, the PKK and the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) have complained that the government hasn't fulfilled its part in the process.
Speaking to the PKK-affiliated Fırat News Agency, Karayılan said the common opinion that came out of a recent meeting of Kongra-Gel, another organ of the PKK that is short for the Kurdish People's Congress, was that the settlement process has been blocked.
Karayılan said the PKK made important decisions during that meeting. “Kongra-Gel gave the authority to follow the settlement process to the Executive Council. It gave it the authority to decide on its own based on spontaneous developments. For example, if the government doesn't take any steps, it might decide to freeze the process or continue it.” Karayılan also reiterated the group's demands that an independent group of doctors go to İmralı, where Öcalan is imprisoned, and examine the PKK leader.
Karayılan also asserted that Öcalan's prison conditions should be improved. “He should be allowed to meet with delegations from abroad. He should have contact with the outside world. He should have assistants and a secretary. Only this way can he continue the settlement process.”
Karayılan said Öcalan had written letters to government officials, but the organization did not know what, if any, results these produced. “If the AK Party government doesn't make a move, the process will get blocked over the period ahead.”
He said the week ahead is crucial for the settlement process. “Prisons are full of Kurdish politicians. These are putting a strain on the process. Everyone should understand well that the week ahead is very important. If the attitude of the Turkish side continues as it is, the process will be blocked. It isn't completely blocked right now, but it is getting there. We are waiting to see steps in a short period of time that will convince us, and if these steps are not taken and the process is blocked, the responsibility will be on them.”
Karayılan said the military still put pressure on the people in the predominantly Kurdish regions of the east and Southeast. He said that the village guard system -- whereby some villages, usually entire clans, are armed to fight the PKK -- should end.” He said the village guard system is a major obstacle on the way to peace.
Kurdish intellectual Ümit Fırat said the PKK has been saying what Karayılan said to Fırat for quite a while, demanding further steps from the government to go on with the second stage of the settlement process. “What they are saying is: 'We have done our part, now it is the government's turn',” Fırat told Today's Zaman. According to him, the PKK will not withdraw from Turkish territories without seeing a step from the government. Likewise, the government expects the PKK to withdraw completely to continue with the settlement process. Fırat said the PKK wants to make it understood that it is not withdrawing unconditionally.
Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV) expert Nihat Ali Özcan describes Karayılan's latest statements as “costly signaling,” a term used in terrorist terminology as Özcan states. “In order to display that he is serious, Karayılan demands further steps from the government," Özcan told Today's Zaman. According to this view, Özcan tries to “pressure the government” to act. According to Özcan, the PKK is blatantly threatening the government with aborting the process unless its demands are met.

Karayılan's new position

Commentators who know the workings of the PKK well have suggested that Öcalan was appointed to the executive body of the terrorist group due to his influence over the PKK's armed wing, the People's Defense Forces (HPG). The decision to appoint Karayılan to the board was made by Öcalan, who appointed another long-term commander, Cemil Bayık, as head of the KCK. Experts also say that recent comments that the PKK is eliminating its members of Syrian origin are untrue. Some suggest that influential individuals of Syrian origin in the PKK, such as Bahoz Erdal and Sofu Nureddin, might have been given other work to mobilize Kurds in Syria.

National Kurdish conference in Iraq

A conference that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of Iraq has been planning to hold for the past six years will finally be held in Arbil, northern Iraq, according to the latest news from the region.
Turkey's BDP and the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) will also attend the event, where in addition to the Kurds of Turkey and Iraq, those of Syria and Iran will also be represented. Massoud Barzani, the leader of the KRG, will be hosting the event, which will be held in September, although a date has not yet been set.
The conference will seek to find a common stance among Kurds and address the social, cultural and political issues facing Kurds who live across four different countries. It was initially planned in 2011, but it was canceled after 13 Turkish soldiers were killed in a PKK attack that year.

, , , ,


Write Down Your Responses