Why would Iran capture Karayılan?
Claims that Murat Karayılan, the top figure on Kandil Mountain had fallen into Iran’s hands turned out to be unsubstantiated after remaining in circulation for about two days.
It would have been an astounding development, had it been confirmed. Why would it have been astounding?
Here is why: At a time when the popular uprising in Syria threatens not just the Baath regime, but also the fate of the Syria-Iran axis, which is vital for the geopolitics of Iran and just as Turkey, which warned the Baath regime that it was running out of patience and was ready to do what was necessary, had positioned itself in a manner that contradicts Iran’s regional interests...
Why would Iran strike a hand that reached out to it only a week ago? Karayılan had spoken to Fırat News Agency, or ANF, one week ago, declaring that his organization’s Iranian wing, the Party for Free Life of Kurdistan, or PJAK, would no longer stage attacks against Iran, and that they were expecting Tehran to reciprocate their move.
And thus went Karayılan’s message to Iran:
“As the [outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party] PKK, we have not declared any war against Iran. We do not wish to fight against the Islamic Republic of Iran either. Why? Because one of the aims of the international forces who seek to re-design the region is to besiege Iran. Currently, they are more preoccupied with Syria. If they just manage to work things out there as they wish, it will be Iran’s turn next. As Kurds, we do not think it quite right to be involved in a war with Iran at such a stage.”
Karayılan had issued this call: “You have no interest in targeting the PKK ... You must end this conflict. It is America that wants this conflict to go on. Because these attacks of yours serve America’s interests. They want both the PKK and Iran to grow weaker.”
Karayılan had explained to the ANF that Iran had halted its intense offensive operations targeting Mt. Kandil, and that PJAK had toned down its activities in return.
And finally, Karayılan had indicated they had moved armed elements of the PJAK from border areas toward the interior to avoid inciting Iran to renew its offensive; he also requested that “Iran take these unilateral measures [by the PKK] into consideration.”
The PJAK was a “solution” devised by the PKK to find shelter in Iraq that came under the occupation and tutelage of the United States in the aftermath of 2003. Turkey removed itself from the equation by turning down the March 1 resolution, which would have allowed the U.S. to cross Turkish territory during its invasion of Iraq. The PKK, in turn, carved out a place for itself as part of the existing situation as an active element of the new regional equation in return for destabilizing Iran, or by acting in the interests of the U.S. The PKK is still in that place.
Nevertheless, as the Arab Spring that engulfed Syria continues to turn the balance of power in the region upside down and shake up the situation, causing alliances to crumble, while turning enemies into friends, and friends into enemies, Mt. Kandil is also trying to adapt to the circumstances of a new geopolitical framework by reviewing its position.
Back in the 1990s, Iran was the enemy of its own Kurds, and a secret friend of the PKK. After all, back at that time, it was facing Turkey, which it perceived as a threat.
Now, just as the Justice and Development Party, or AKP’s, Turkey is abandoning its bankrupt strategy of “zero problems with neighbors” while realigning itself with the “Western Alliance” in the context of the Arab Spring, why would Iran want to capture the top field figure of an “old friend” who no longer wishes to fight it?
Kadri Gürsel is a columnist for daily Milliyet, in which this piece originally appeared Monday. It was traslated into English by the Daily News staff.