Jailed PKK leader not worthy of respect: US
The U.S. Embassy in Turkey said on Oct. 21 that jailed outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan was “not worthy of respect,” referring to an incident when a large banner bearing his image was raised in an iconic square in Syria’s Raqqa.
“Our attitude towards the liberation of Raqqa as a gain for all Syrians is clear. Our expectation from all sides is to avoid acts that may increase tension or be seen as aggressive,” said a written statement from the embassy.
Emphasizing the U.S. government’s close work with Turkey in the fight against terrorism, the statement added, “The PKK is an organization on the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations and Öcalan is in prison in Turkey because of the terrorist activities connected with the PKK. He is not a person worthy to be respected.”
When the eastern city of Raqqa was retaken earlier this week by forces including the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), the group unfurled a huge banner bearing the image of Öcalan in the main square.
The U.S. Department of Defense on Oct. 20 condemned the raising of the banner.
“We condemn the display of PKK leader and founder Abdullah Öcalan during the liberation of Raqqa,” Pentagon spokesman Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway told state-run Anadolu Agency.
On the same day, the U.S.-led anti-Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) coalition said it did not approve of the display of divisive symbols.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Oct. 20 also slammed the U.S. over the display of posters.
“They hung up posters of the chief terrorist [Öcalan] in Raqqa. How will the U.S. explain that? It says the PKK is a terrorist organization. EU countries also say that. But they hung up a poster of the chief terrorist on a building in France during a live broadcasting on their state TV station and the police just watched. How will they explain it? Is that solidarity in counterterrorism?” Erdoğan said.