Terrorism ‘cost of Turkish support for Syrian people’

Terrorism ‘cost of Turkish support for Syrian people’

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Terrorism ‘cost of Turkish support for Syrian people’

‘PKK terrorism is the cost Turkey is paying because of its alliance with the people, not with the regimes’ al-Hashemi (R) says in an interview with Hurriyet Daily News reporter İpek Yezdani. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

Escalation in the terrorist activities of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Turkey is to be expected, because of Turkey’s allying itself with the Syrian people against the al-Assad regime, fugitive Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi has said.

“PKK terrorism is the cost Turkey is paying because of its alliance with the people, not with the regimes, of the region. I am expecting more attacks will be carried out by the PKK, because this is a pressure card played by the Syrian regime and supported by other regional forces to blackmail Turkey to stop its support for the people of this region,” al-Hashemi said, speaking to Hürriyet Daily News Aug. 30.

Al-Hashemi, who has been granted a residence permit by the Turkish government, had been in Qatar for more than a month but had just returned to Turkey, where he is living in the Başakşehir district of Istanbul.

‘Don’t waste your time’

Asked if the Turkish government’s talks with the Kurdistan Regional Goverment (KRG) seeking greater cooperation on preventing PKK activities in northern Iraq would yield results, al-Hashemi said “The indirect approach is a waste of time.”

“There is a political problem which is transferred into violence by the PKK. If we want to stop the violence, my humble advice would be to please open [the issue] directly with the people concerned. Don’t waste your time,” al-Hashemi said.

Al-Hashemi said he believed there was still room for the PKK to be convinced to lay down arms and stop the bloodshed in Turkey.

“Being a very close friend to Turkey, I think that apart from military actions, the time has come for the Turkish government to make very different, historical decisions as to how to accommodate this problem, by endeavoring to put an end to this fight,” al-Hashemi said.

‘Iraq became a corridor of support for the Syrian regime’

Al-Hashemi also said the Iraqi government is providing the Syrian regime with all manner of support, and that in fact Iraq has become a “corridor of support” for the Syrian regime.

“Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has even sent some Iraqi militia members to assist the Syrian regime in their massacres. The Free Syrian Army has caught some of these Iraqis and made them confess on video. Some Iraqi banks have given financial support to Syria, breaking the economic embargo. Militias, ammunition, money, et cetera: Everything can easily go through from Iraq to Syria,” al-Hashemi said.

Al-Hashemi, a Sunni Muslim, fled first to northern Iraq and then to Turkey after being accused of running a death squad by the Iraqi authorities, including al-Maliki, a Shiite. The vice president has dismissed the allegations as politically motivated.

Al-Hashemi said he did not know if his stay in Turkey would be longer than necessary.

“My colleagues in Iraq, leaders of the Al-Iraqiye group and the leader of the KRG sent me messages last April when I was about to leave Turkey, requesting that I stay in Turkey until the problem in Iraq is resolved. I might stay in Turkey for some time; however, this is not a permanent residency. Me, my family and a couple of people from my team got temporary residence permits in order to ease the visa problems that we face,” al-Hashemi said.

Al-Hashemi said Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki has deprived him of his right to defend himself in court, and to transfer the trial from Baghdad to Arbil or Kirkuk. “I am purely innocent, and my guards who are being tortured and put in prison by the [al-]Maliki goverment are also innocent. I need more support from the Turkish government and the Turkish people, also for my guards, who are in a very difficult situation,” he said.