Barzani snubs calls for anti-PKK strikes

Barzani snubs calls for anti-PKK strikes

Barzani snubs calls for anti-PKK strikes

Hurriyet Daily News and Posta columnist Mehmet Ali Birand, Hürriyet correspondent Cansu Çamlıbel was among media members talking to leader of KRG Barzani (L) in Istanbul.

The leader of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has expressed opposition to any Turkish military raids against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in his territory, suggesting such operations were likely to fail.

“My own experience [with guerilla warfare] tells me that no matter how much might and technology you have, conducting raids [against guerillas] is very difficult,” northern Iraqi leader Masoud Barzani said during a visit to Turkey on Nov. 4.

“We understand the Turkish military is a strong, capable army, but who do you fight with? It is not a frontal war,” he said. “Regardless of how many more operations are carried out, there won’t be any result,” he said. “It is not a frontal war that we are fighting against an army, military barracks, camps or air force bases.”

Barzani, who met with a group of Turkish journalists at a round table in Istanbul on Nov. 4, said tensions have risen since Turkey began operations against the PKK after the militant group killed 24 soldiers on Oct. 19 in the eastern province of Hakkari’s Çukurca district. The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.

Barzani said his duty to all concerned parties was to stop the war between the violence in Southeast Anatolia. “The continuation of war is not a solution,” he added.

“I told [the PKK] very openly and frankly that I am against war because war does not serve the Kurdish people’s or Turkey’s interest. My message is very clear that we have to pursue peaceful means and not think about other alternatives,” he said. “Killing [Turkish] soldiers is a mistake, is a crime. It is not in the interest of Kurdish people and that should stop. War has to come to an end, dialogue has to start. That is the best alternative. No matter how long it takes, dialogue is still better.”

Difficult to dislodge PKK

Barzani also said it was difficult to remove the PKK from his territory. “A partisan war or a guerilla war is a very difficult one. In fact, in order to find solutions, you should not deal with the outcome, you should deal with the reasons.”

He said Turkey had not yet asked him to take on a negotiator role with the PKK. “Whether Turkey makes that request or not, I see that as my responsibility to tell the PKK to stop the war. And I believe the moment that the PKK stops fighting, then there will be no reason for Turkey to continue with military operations. The first thing is to stop the war and then the dialogue will start about the next steps. The first thing is to stop the operations.”

Asked about speculation that Turkey was pressing to deploy its own troops at checkpoints in Iraqi Kurdish territory, Barzani said: “If that problem can be solved by specifically having a few checkpoints in the area, why would it not be on the Turkish side of the border? We have to be realistic. Neither through military means, nor through establishing checkpoints in the area will this problem be solved. We believe that with democratic measures and peaceful solutions, we can put an end to war.”

The Iraqi Kurdish leader also said the recent arrests in the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) case, which is probing the PKK’s alleged urban wing, were not in the interests of Turkey or the democratic process. “If somebody has committed a security breach, it is something, but if people have been detained for political reasons, this is not going to serve the interests of a democratic process.”

Syria to have effect on Kurdish region

The outcome of the Syrian uprising will be felt across Kurdish-populated areas in the Middle East regardless of what ultimately transpires, Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani has said on a visit to Turkey.

“Whatever happens in Syria will have a direct effect on Kurdistan. In the beginning there were efforts to drag the Kurds to take a tough stance so that [Syrian authorities] would have an excuse to say that the Kurds are separatists,” he said, but added that Syrian Kurds did not fall into the trap.

“As far as we are concerned it is very important that there is a democratic system in Syria and rights of Kurdish people are recognized. Unfortunately neither the current government has done this, and we do not know if they will do it in the future,” he said.

Turkey offers role to Barzani

Turkey is pressuring Iraqi Kurds to take action against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), suggesting to the visiting head of northern Iraq that Arbil could take an active role in the process to end the militant group’s activity.“We expect a clear stance and active support and cooperation from the regional administration against this terror,” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said Nov. 4 during a joint press conference with Masoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Barzani’s visit to Turkey ahead of the Kurban Bayram holiday conveyed a positive message of Turkish-Kurdish kinship, Davutoğlu said. “No action will cause destruction to the brotherhood of Turks and Kurds.” Barzani said. Turkey urged the Iraqi Kurdish leader to take an active role in the process of convincing the PKK to lay down its arms, the Hürriyet Daily News has learned.

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