PKK being ‘legitimized,’ Turkish army chief says

PKK being ‘legitimized,’ Turkish army chief says

PKK being ‘legitimized,’ Turkish army chief says


The outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Democratic Union Party (PYD), an offshoot of the PKK, are being legitimized thanks to their fight against jihadists in Syria, Turkish Chief of Staff Gen. Necdet Özel has said.

“The developments in the Middle East and North Africa make it hard to have optimistic predictions. The current situation in Iraq and Syria caused [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] ISIL to get stronger amid the flow of radical fighters into the region. It also caused the PKK and PYD to be seen as a legitimate force fighting against ISIL rather than focusing on their identity as a terror organization,” he said.

“The separatists terror organization [PKK] is attempting to increase its gains in Syria and Iraq, as well as to create a public perception that its extensions in the other countries are innocent groups,” Özel said in an interview with Defense and Aviation Magazine.

Özel also warned that the risk of a conventional war in the region had not yet disappeared, recalling the conflicts and polarizations based on economic interests and decreasing resources.

He also said a new battalion would be established this year for the borders.

Meanwhile, People’s Democracy Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş said March 25 that the founding a monitoring commission was not a red line for his party, responding to the recent debate over the Kurdish peace process.

“We believe that the monitoring commission will contribute to the peace process. Rather than a red line, these issues are held across the world in this way. It is a sine qua non for peace processes.

Otherwise, it is not a red line for the HDP. We would continue to contribute to the process in any case,” Demirtaş told reporters March 25.

Demirtaş has previously said Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and his team are well-aware of the need for a monitoring committee for the talks with Abdullah Öcalan, the PKK’s jailed leader, but that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he was against such a group and Öcalan’s 10-article declaration, which was read out by the HDP during Nevruz in Diyarbakır.

But Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan criticized the remarks from the HDP co-chair and the PKK leaders over the process.

“We are at a significant phase in the process. The remarks of Mr. Demirtaş and Kandil [referring to senior PKK officials in the mountains of northern Iraq] last week do not comply with the spirit and sensitivity of the process. In fact, these statements have poisoned the process and harmed its climate,” Akdoğan told reporters on March 25. Akdoğan also denied claims that Erdoğan was attempting to block the process with his recent criticisms. 

“No one can say Mr. Erdoğan is against the peace process,” said Akdoğan.