Kurdish leader pledges to pressure outlawed PKK

Kurdish leader pledges to pressure outlawed PKK

Kurdish leader pledges to pressure outlawed PKK

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (L) looks over at Kurdish regional leader Masoud Barzani during a joint press conference in Arbil on Oct 30, 2009. Barzani says he is ready to help both the Turkish government and the outlawed PKK if necessary to solve the Kurdish problem. AFP photo

Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) leader Masoud Barzani said his administration will continue to exert pressure and call on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) not to resort to violence and weapons. He also said he was ready to help the Turkish government and PKK if necessary to solve the Kurdish problem.

“The Kurdish problem can not be resolved with violence, the Kurds can not reach their goal by violence and they cannot be destroyed by it. It can be solved only by peaceful means,” Barzani said at a April 5 speaking event at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Barzani met with U.S. President Barack Obama twice and with Vice President Joseph Biden on April 4. The Obama administration has pressed Barzani to re-engage with Baghdad over the tension with fugitive Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi.

“We are sisters and neighbors and we want to live in peace. We are ready to help if needed by Turkey or the PKK. We will continue to exert pressure on the PKK not to resort to violence and weapons,” Anatolia news agency quoted Barzani as saying. “If they choose the peaceful way, we will help contribute to a solution. But if they choose war and fight, we will pursue another path and won’t be the part of this process,” he said. [HH] Kurds in Syria

Barzani also accused the Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of consolidating power in a dictatorial way. “Iraq is facing a serious crisis ... it’s coming towards one-man rule … We have a situation in Baghdad where one man is the prime minister and at the same time he is the commander in chief of the armed forces, he is the minister of defense, he is the minister of the interior, and he is the chief of intelligence. And lately, he has been communicating to the head of the Central Bank that that should also come under the power of the prime minister. Where in the world can you find such an example?”

Barzani called for a multiparty, multiethnic process to address the issue of power sharing in Iraq. If that process fails, Barzani said he would hold a referendum in Kurdistan to determine the way forward, according to Foreign Policy magazine. “It is our right to turn to our people, but it is the last resort. The current status quo in Baghdad is in no way our choice and we will not accept that as an option,” he said. “Otherwise, we will be obliged to go back to the people and have the people make their decisions.” 

He also touched upon the status of Kurds in Syria, saying that the KRG supported whatever dialogue and negotiations the Syrian regime and the Syrian opposition entered into, and that the safety and security of Syrian Kurds was a high priority. As for the Kurdistan National Council of Syria, a recently formed umbrella group representing Kurdish opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Barzani said the KRG would help, but not with weapons. 

“We are ready to support them, but not with military support or providing weapons ... It could be moral support, political support, financial support. And we will use our influence to help solve their problems,” he said. “It would be good for them to enter into talks and negotiations so they can reach an agreement with the other opposition groups.”