Iraq’s Kurdistan region,— Kurdish prominent politician Dr. Mahmoud Othman believes the Saturday visit of Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim to Iraq’s Kurdistan Region and meeting the high-level official of the region is to fight Kurds with Kurds.
Othman said that the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is not a terrorist group, he added that the group is defending itself and it is better for Turkey to resume peace talks and liberate the jailed leader of the PKK, Abdullah Ocalan.
He stressed that it is Turkey’s policy which is wrong as it knows the entire world as terrorist, adding that neither the PKK nor Kurds are terrorist but they way Kurds are treated is terroristic.
Othman said the Turkish state should stop insulting the Kurds and learn the culture of coexistence from them and continued: “Yıldırım’s comments in Erbil don’t serve anything. If we as Arabs, Turkmens, Farsis and Kurds live together in these regions, then we must respect each other. These peoples all pursue a cause to self-determination. We will never accept the statements that PKK and PYD are terrorists.”
If PKK terrorist, So am I
Othman also protested KDP Leader Massoud Barzani staying silent in the face of the Turkish Prime Minister calling PKK and PYD terrorists and said: “ Massoud Barzani isn’t the president of the Kurdistan region, but the KDP. In this sense, KDP should explain why Massoud Barzani didn’t take a stance there. But even if they don’t, it should be known that that approach there was not appropriate at all. Because PKK and PYD are Kurdish parties with thousands of martyrs. From Khanaqin to Kobani, these forces defended Kurdistan’s lands and lost martyrs. Moreover, let’s not forget that when PKK guerrillas defended Maxmur, Masoud Barzani went and thanked them for their efforts. In this sense, what should have happened isn’t this. I would like to state this as well: I had said that if PKK is terrorist, then I’m a terrorist too, and I repeat that now.”
‘It’s The Turkish State, Not PKK, That Should Leave the Iraq’
Othman said the following on the discussions of PKK leaving Sinjar (Shingal): “It’s not appropriate to try to force PKK forces out of there. Because when there were attacks on Southern Kurdistan and Sinjar, PKK was there in the defense fronts along with the peshmerga. Sinjar issue can only be solved through dialogue. Nevermind forcing PKK out of Shengal, the Turkish state should remove all military bases from Southern Kurdistan. The Turkish state should leave the South [Iraq], after that, PKK leaving Sinjar is an internal matter for Kurds. They can solve it among themselves.”
‘Military Forces Should Unite’
Othman pointed out that the best option for Kurds is to have all defense forces under one umbrella and said: “Military forces for all parties should unite and not be party to political groups anymore. It is the same for Southern Kurdistan. The military forces should be controlled by the government, not political parties.
During his visit to Kurdistan Region, Yildirim said in a press conference on Sunday, January 8, that “PKK is terrorist.”
Massoud Barzani announced on Sunday that Kurdistan Region is prepared to upgrade its cooperation with Turkey in all aspects especially in combating the threat of terrorism. “We are ready to upgrade our cooperation in all aspects,” Barzani said.
Turkish PM Binali Yildirim called for cooperation between his country and the Kurdistan Region in the war against PKK.
“It is the duty of Turkey and the Kurdistan Region to deal with threats of PKK, Islamic State and the Hizmet Movement,” said Yildirim.
The ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party KDP objected to the PKK’s prolonged presence and called on them to leave. Kurdistan PM Nechirvan Barzani said last month that the PKK was hindering reconstruction of the area and the return of the displaced Yazidi population. In an interview with Al-Monitor, he said he was prepared to use force to expel the PKK.
The PKK took part in operations to expel IS from the Sinjar area in November 2015 and subsequently remained to provide security and train local forces.
In recent weeks, however, discussions have been held between Kurdistan Region officials and PKK leaders and they have reached an agreement whereby the PKK will withdraw and only local forces will remain.
The PKK took up arms in 1984 against the Turkish state, which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to push for greater autonomy for the Kurdish minority who make up around 22.5 million of the country’s 79-million population.
A large Kurdish community in Turkey and worldwide openly sympathise with PKK rebels and Abdullah Ocalan, who founded the PKK group in 1974, and has a high symbolic value for most Kurds in Turkey and worldwide according to observers.
Since July 2015, Turkey initiated a controversial military campaign against the PKK in the country’s southeastern Kurdish region. Since the beginning of the campaign, Ankara has imposed several round-the-clock curfews, preventing civilians from fleeing regions where the military operations are being conducted.
Observers say the crackdown has taken a heavy toll on the Kurdish civilian population and accuse Turkey of using collective punishment against the minority.