الرئيسية » English Articles » DTP peace–Turkey-Iran

DTP peace–Turkey-Iran

1. DTP leader proposes mediation to solve Kurd issue-Ahmet Türk is ready to go to Kandil Mountain to speak with the PKK
2. PKK leader offers Turkey an olive branch to end war
3. PKK: Kurdish Hizbullah is supported by Iran
4. 72 NGOs in Diyarbak?r Call for Peace
5. Protests against KESK operation grow like a snowball
6. PJAK: We are not USA agents
7. Life and Death in the Qandil Mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan
8. Extraditing Kurds to Turkey will not help resolve Turkish-Kurdish tension-KNC
9. Border conflicts test Kurdish tightrope act
10. Kurd official denies US trains rebels
11. Iran’s political system
12. Transcript: DOD News Briefing-US Department of Defense about PJAK
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1. DTP leader proposes mediation to solve Kurd issue-Ahmet Türk is ready to go to Kandil Mountain to speak with the PKK

30-05-2009
Hurriyet

The leader of the pro-Kurdish party says he is ready to go to the Kandil Mountain to speak with the local leaders of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers? Party, PKK, and seek a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question.
“If something happens [in a dialog for peace], I am ready to go to Kandil and discuss some things,” Ahmet Türk, the head of the Democratic Society Party, or DTP, said late Thursday on a televised program. He reiterated the DTP?s line that Turkish military operations must come to a halt for the political process to function in creating a resolution of the Kurdish issue. He said the PKK must also completely abide by any ceasefire decision.Asked if Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an had given him an appointment for a meeting, Türk said the press was exaggerating the matter. He said his party did not seek an appointment from the prime minister just to shake hands with him, but to act responsibly by discussing the problem.
Goodwill for a solution through democratic means
“As the DTP, we expected the official at the top of the executive to demonstrate goodwill at least for a solution to the problem through democratic means. That?s why we have sought an appointment to discuss all of this,” he said, adding that he was ready to take risks to end the bloodshed.
“We are ready for meetings and even for discussions. And we are comfortable about that,” said Türk. “If there is such an environment, I am ready to go to Kandil and discuss the matter to open the door for a peaceful process.”
Meanwhile, Parliament Speaker Köksal Toptan urged five DTP deputies facing a court case to provide testimony, saying, “They don?t need to bully.”
Resisting unlawfulness
In response, Türk told reporters in the southeastern province of Diyarbak?r, “We are not bullying, we are resisting against unlawfulness.”
The Diyarbak?r Public Prosecutor?s Office prepared a report for the removal of Türk?s parliamentary immunity, reported NTV television Friday. An Ankara court gave Parliament until the end of Sept. to prevent the potential eruption of a crisis over the possible police escort of the DTP deputies from Parliament in order to testify.Türk and DTP deputies Emine Ayna, Selahattin Demirta?, Fatma Kurtalan, Aysel Tu?luk and Sabahat Tuncel all received official notices requiring them to testify on to their alleged involvement in spreading terrorist propaganda.
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2. PKK leader offers Turkey an olive branch to end war

May 26, 2009
The Times

The Kurdish leader proposing to end a 25-year-long conflict with Turkey that has cost 30,000 lives believes his peace offer is a once in a generation opportunity that must be grasped by both sides.
In a unilateral gesture that has prompted a re-examination of strategy in Ankara, Baghdad and Washington, the guerrilla leadership of the Kurdistan Workers? Party, or PKK, has extended an olive branch, offering to drop its aim of an independent state in return for a negotiated settlement to end its war with Turkey.
?We are at a turning point,? said Murad Karayilan, acting head of the PKK, in an interview with The Times at a secret location in the mountains of northern Iraq.
?Kurds do not want to continue the war. We believe we can solve the Kurdish question without spilling more blood. We are ready for a peaceful and democratic solution in Turkey ? to be solved within Turkey?s borders.?
The potential breakthrough in the conflict came this month when Mr Karayilan, 52, deputy to the PKK?s imprisoned supremo, Abdullah Ocalan, agreed to meet a Turkish journalist in northern Iraq. During the meeting he highlighted the PKK?s willingness to drop its central demand for an independent state for Turkey?s 12 million Kurds, and proposed key steps towards peace, including an immediate ceasefire and negotiations to end the war.
?Britain accepted the will of the Scots by giving them a parliament of their own, and that?s what the Turks have to do with us,? Mr Karayilan said at the meeting with The Times in a wooded valley near the Qandil mountains, an important PKK area. ?I?ve studied Irish history and talked with people who participated in it. I know the development and stages of that struggle. Turkey needs to solve our problem in the way that the British solved that problem.?
The PKK?s overture comes at a key point in the region?s history. President Obama knows that it will help to smooth the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq if Ankara?s relations with Baghdad and Iraq?s Kurdish regional government in Erbil are stabilised. The PKK, from its position on the Iraq-Turkey border, has awoken to the political opportunities afforded by the situation.
The PKK took up arms against Turkey in 1984 under the leadership of Ocalan, ?Apo?, who was captured in 1999 and is in prison on Imrali in the Sea of Marmara. Attacks by the PKK, originally a revolutionary Marxist-Leninist group, drew a savage reaction from the Turkish Army in the late 1980s, when more than 4,000 Kurdish villages were destroyed. The rebel group combined conventional guerrilla tactics with bombing campaigns, and was listed as a terrorist organisation by the US and European Union in 2004.
Mr Karayilan has ordered his 6,000 PKK fighters into a position of ?passive defence? until June 1 to give Turkey time to consider his proposition.
He approached the issue of a Turkish amnesty for PKK fighters and the release of Ocalan with carefully chosen words. ?There has been a war,? he said. ?Both Turkish and Kurdish societies have been damaged. Both sides have to forgive one another. Everyone should participate in that, including Abdullah Ocalan. Forgiveness is necessary for peace. Kurds and Turks must open a new white page.?
The deadline he has set for a response from Turkey is less than a week away. Nonetheless intense political debate is under way in Turkey over the unsolved Kurdish issue, which President Gül has called ?Turkey?s biggest problem?.
Nationalist parties in Turkey have denounced the PKK offer and the Army has continued operations in southeastern Turkey. The political leadership, however, has described the overture as a ?historic opportunity?.
?We are at a fork in a pathway,? said Mr Karayilan. ?Turkey must choose one of them. If Turkey doesn?t accept our overtures and continues to attack us then of course we will use all means to defend ourselves, and that includes retaliation. They can call us ?terrorists? for as long as they wish but Turkey has to accept that the PKK is part of the reality of the solution to its Kurdish problem.?
First person: The woman soldier
Dilsha left her home in Syria at 17 and killed her first soldier in Turkey at 19.
?It was an ambush just after midnight,? she said. ?A column of Turkish soldiers left their base at the start of an operation. They were about 25 meters away when we hit them. I gave them some fire from my Kalashnikov and threw grenades among them. We killed about 30 in all. When it was over I scrambled forward and took a dead soldier?s weapon. I can?t say I was afraid. I was psychologically prepared and had already received my ideological training. Kill them or they kill you ? and that?s what they come to do.?
Now 31 and deputy commander of a platoon of women guerrillas, Dilsha has total dedication to the PKK, which includes an obligatory 40 per cent quota of women among its 6,000-strong ranks, and is typical of its members. Fanatically loyal to her imprisoned leader, Abdullah Ocalan, she claims nothing of her own. ?My trainers, watch, uniform, whatever you see on me belongs to the Kurdish people, even my body and soul.?
She estimates that few of the 150 Kurdish people with whom she had crossed from Syria in 1995 are still alive. The assumption seems likely, given the 15,000 guerrillas killed during their 25-year campaign for an independent Kurdistan.
She has been wounded in action twice. On the first occasion she dug shrapnel from her leg using the cleaning rod of her assault rifle. The second time, hit in the back by fragments from a rocket, she was dragged by comrades. They cut the metal from her back and tended her for 15 days until she could walk again.
An end to the war would allow her to contact her family. She has spoken to her parents once, during a phone call in 2005, since leaving home 14 years ago.
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3. PKK: Kurdish Hizbullah is supported by Iran

Transnational Observer
Saturday, May 23, 2009

The PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan said in one of his statements from prison that Kurds should watch out for the position of Iran in the Middle-East.
?Iran is well-informed about how to plan against Kurds?. He underlined that Saadet party (Erbakan) is used by Iran in a conspiracy against Kurds and that Iran uses the former PM Erbakan to participate in a conspiracy against Kurds. Erbakan visited Iran in April. Ocalan also thinks it?s possible that Iran is using Kurdish Hizbullah against Kurds. ?Iran is well-informed about using these Islamic groups like it does in Lebanon and Afghanistan.?
On 8 May Ocalan also warned Turkey for Iran and argued that Iran is abusing Turkey by starting military operations against the PKK. He suggested that military operations won’t solve the Kurdish issue.
Murat Karayilan also said in an interview with Milliyet journalist Hasan Cemal that Iran is trying to create an Islamic alternative for the PKK. Karayilan thinks that Hizbullah isn?t controlled by JITEM (gendarme) any more, but by Iran. Karayilan even said that Iranian officials visited him and asked him to not fight against Kurdish Hizbullah. Karayilan said there are three ?secular? Kurdish parties, PUK of Talabani, KDP of Barzani and the PKK. He emphasised that they are threatened by Kurdish islamic parties.
According to Kurdish politician ?brahim Güçlü the Kurdish Hizbullah could form an alternative for the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) and DTP (Democratic Society Party).
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4. 72 NGOs in Diyarbak?r Call for Peace

May 31 2009

BIA

Women’s organisations, professional associations, trade unions and human rights activists in Diyarbak?r have come together to appeal for peace.Following the death of six soldiers in a mine attack in Çukurca, in the southeastern province of Hakkari, on Thursday (28 May),Diyarbak?r NGOs held a press briefing in which they called for an end to fighting and the beginning of a dialogue.The text, which was read out by M. Emin Aktar, president of Diyarbak?r’s Bar Association, reads as follows:
“We are experiencing a renewed period of hope as far as the Kurdish question is concerned. The period, which started when the Honourable President Abdullah Gül emphasised the importance of the issue and the necessity of a solution. Positive discussions began. This wind of peace brought some hope. All groups with responsibility and common sense need to contribute to this process of peace.

We must not forget that, as in the past, some people want to prevent an end to the conflict. We want to emphasise that an intensification of operations at just this time wil not contribute to the peace process and will make a continuation of the (PKK’s unilateral) ceasefire difficult.

The PKK is also a group which has to contribute to this process. In this context, we find an extension of the ceasefire, which ends on 1 June, important.

State institutions, the goverment, and opposition parties must also now act together and take trust-inspiring, decisive steps.

We, the undersigned NGOs, note that we will monitor this process, will act with responsibility, and call on everyone else to act responsibly. We say, ‘A language of peace and solution shall prevail. Arms should stay silent, people should talk. No more children of this country should die.'”

The declaration was signed by women’s organisations, trade unions, professional associations, and human rights associations. (TK/AG)
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5. Protests against KESK operation grow like a snowball

May 29 2009
DIHA

Protests against Confederation of Public Employees Trade Union or KESK operation are growing like a snowball. Firstly Trade Unions the numerous NGOs, human rights activist, women right organizations, intellectuals and political parties have been holding press releases and demonstrations against ongoing operations on KESK. On the other hand detainees have not been allowed to meet with their attorneys yet according to information obtained.
Fallowing operation against DTP, now Turkey?s workers have faced a comprehensive operation against KESK. Common evaluation about the operation is that this is an operation to be silenced of opposite powers in the society.

Here are the demonstrations, press releases and written statements of the organizations to protest against operation on KESK as fallows;

?Opposite forces want to be silenced?

Socialist Democracy Party or SDP Central Executive Board member Ay?e Batumlu; this operation has been making against opposite voices since there are extremely important economic crises and growing reactions against crises. The State wants society to remain silence. Besides that there are intense debates about Kurdish problem which we have never faced, need to be silenced also. The destruction and rejection policies cannot enough after now. And there is one more thing need to be highlighted in this operation that women are being targeted.

Tekstil Sen: Oppressions need to be ended

Tekstil Sen Centre; the operations? target is democratic approach to Kurdish problem. KESK have defended freedom of Kurdish, brothership with Kurdish and education in mother tongue. We believe those were the reason to attack it. Kurdish problem became Turkey?s proletarian problem and nothing is natural to defend those rights as trade union. Detainees should be released as soon as.

Being outlawed is reality of Turkey

Revolutionary Public Employee Movement; Being outlawed is reality of Turkey, unfortunately. Operations have been holding to be bended opposites? knees or make them obey the rules even against them. Asking democracy or freedom are the reasons to be criminal according to the government and it is not surprising since being outlawed is a reality of Turkey.

Solidarity with KESK and

Head of Turkish Union of Chambers of Engineers and Architects or TMMOB Emin Korkmaz; KESK has thousands of thousands members and history about struggle for labor?s rights. As we have seen these oppressions are not new. We are condemning these suppressions and presenting our solidarity with them.

Ankara;

Firstly Trade Unions the numerous NGOs, human rights activist, women right organizations, intellectuals and political parties have held a sit-in act and press release against ongoing operations in front of Human Rights Monument in Yüksel Street as known common demonstration area in Ankara. ÖDP ?stanbul deputy Ufuk Uras, KESK General Secretary Emirali ?im?ek, head of Educators Trade Union E?itim-Sen Zübeyde K?l?ç, head of Health Workers Trade Union or SES Bedriye Yorgun, secretary of the Association of Pir Sultan Abdal Culture and Solidarity Kaz?m Genç, head of ?HD Öztürk Türkdo?an, General Secretary of Human Rights Foundation of Turkey Metin Bakkalc?, General Secretary Contemporary Attorneys Association Selçuk Koza?açl? and the numerous people from D?SK, TMMOB, TTB, ?HD, DTP, ESP, SDP, T?HV and KESK have been participated in demonstration. Slogans have been chanted and speeches have been made against operations.

Diyarbak?r;
KESK Diyarbak?r branch Platform made a press release to condemn the ongoing operation and demand to be freed of detainees. A mass including head of trade unions? branches, vice mayor, manager of IHD Diyarbak?r branch gathered and press release has been read. According to the press release, police?s attack is unacceptable since KESK has 250 thousands of members. Operation has been evaluated as oppressions on democracy. Fallowing 5 minutes sit-in act mass chanted slogans contrary to the government and operations.

On the other hand Genel-?? trade union from D?SK also made written statement to protest the operation.

?zmir;
?zmir Branch Platform protested operations. It is said that labors are going to be on the street if the government not stop acting unlawfully in the press release made during the demonstration. Hundreds of people including KESK, D?SK, ?HD, ÇHD, DTP, EMEP, SDP members have attended in the demonstrations.

?We are compromise from our struggle for KESK which is real and respectable labor organization. No rescue on our own, either all together nor none of us. Our struggle is honorable. We have held our head on high and blameless.?

Women in Diyarbak?r also protest operations

Women in Diyarbak?r also protested operations during the panel made in context of Diyarbak?r 9th Culture and Art Festival. DTP Batman deputy Ayla Akat Ata said that; KESK Secretary of Women Department Songül Morsümbül?s custody is unlawful and she has to be released as soon as possible. Günlük Daily writer Yüksel Genç also protested last operation on KESK; Songül Morsümbül is a fighter for women freedom and equality. AKP administration try to eliminate us by taken into custody but they are deathly wrong, there is no back step will be taken by us.
Member of DTP Executive Board ?ilan Emino?lu emphasized that women voice is the voice of freedom and went on; if you want to women voice to be silenced, you would silence of your own voice. There is no other way to develop freedom other than lifting the oppression on women struggle.

There are also other demonstrations against operation in Mersin, Adana and Hatay in where was asked that the detainees to be released as soon as possible.
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6. PJAK: We are not USA agents

May 28, 2009
Transitional Middle East Observer

Hewa Aziz of Asharq Al-Awsat interviewed PJAK-members in Qandil mountains. The PJAK member denied relations with the United States. According to journalist Seymour Hersh America and Israel support PJAK to fight Iran.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic, said a few days ago that the United States is training your members in Qandil and preparing them to carry out military operations within Iran. What is your answer?
[Horaz] These are groundless allegations. Let me give you an example. When PJAK was formed, Iran claimed that it was its agent. However, after the armed struggle intensified between our fighters and the Iranian forces, Tehran claimed that PJAK was a US protégé and that it was supported by it. However, the US decision to freeze the party’s assets in US banks and placing our party on the list of terrorist organizations rebuts Iran’s claims again. The truth is that Iran and the United States have been engaged in secret dialogue. What Khamenei said during his recent visit to Iranian Kurdistan proves this. He stated that his regime is prepared to engage Washington in a direct dialogue if it gives up its pressures on Iran. In other words, the claim that PJAK is a US agent is false; its goal is to distort our party’s image.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Iran insists that you are US agents and says that your classification as a terrorist organization is an attempt to mislead public opinion. What is your comment?
[Horaz] The capitalist system that the United States leads devotes everything to serve its special interests. It is a selfish pragmatic regime to the very bones. In return, the Iranian regime – that pretends to bean Islamic regime contrary to the truth and that has distorted the image of Islam in the Middle East and the world – is also a selfish pragmatic regime. Thus, if the two regimes meet they would no doubt use all their means to safeguard their private interests. In other words, the allegations of both sides are false.
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7. Life and Death in the Qandil Mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan

by Gerald Paoli
Sulimanaya, Iraqi Kurdistan
Published on Wednesday, May 20, 2009 by CommonDreams.org

The Events Leading up to Mohamed?s Death
The first Zarawa Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp was in a valley in the Qandil Mountains. It wasn?t home, but it was situated next to a cool stream and was close to the 8 villages of the 132 families who have fled violence rained down on them by Turkey and Iran. Now they live in the new Zarawa IDP camp built by the United Nation?s High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).
The villagers have chosen to leave the mountains because they are exhausted from being under attack. Turkey and Iran have been bombing the border with Kurdistan for decades in an effort to eliminate the mountain bases of two Kurdish rebel groups, the Turkish Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the Iranian Kurdish group known as the Party for Free Life (PJAK).
Historically, seasonal bombings have been the norm in the northernmost region of Kurdistan. Bombings became a predictable part of an annual rhythm of life. But, villagers adjusted to the anticipated attacks and continued to live in the manner dictated by their traditions and customs.
In December 2007, George Bush and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan met to discuss strategies for ?dealing? with the PKK.
Since then the bombing have been more intense and regular.
Most members of the international community officially label The PKK and PJAK as terrorist organizations. Yet, as recently as 2006, the United States was supplying PJAK with intelligence and weapons to use against Tehran.
Turkey has attempted to purchase both armed and surveillance drones from Israel, for use in border operations. However, Turkey?s government stated on May 19th, 2009 that it might cancel a 2005 contract to purchase 10 drones from Israel because of delayed delivery. It?s also worth noting that Turkey?s Prime Minister Erdogan sternly criticized Israel?s 22-day Operation Cast Lead assaults against Gaza, begun on December 22nd, 2008.
On March 10, 2009, Iran broke a 1-month-old cease-fire. As a result, an 18-month-old boy named Mohamed was killed while sleeping nestled between his parents. Mohamed?s parents injured and stricken with grief are angry that they were lulled into a false sense of security by the cease-fire. They decided to join in the exodus down from the mountain to the new Zarawa camp.
Life in the New Zarawa IDP Camp
The camp nurse and several small children greeted us as we entered the new camp. She invited us into her UNHCR supplied tent. A furrowed brow replaced her broad smile as she began to describe her fears for the villagers living here.
?I am afraid for the old people and the young ones.? said the nurse, who is concerned that they won?t survive the summer heat. ?When people live so close to each other many diseases will come and spread quickly.? Looking at the children, she wrung her hands. ?Dysentery and dehydration are sure to follow.?
There are 45 tents, of varying size, for 132 families. That comes to roughly 3 families per every 2 tents. Each tent measures 4 meters by 4 meters wide by 2.2 meters high, pitched over a slab of cement that is 9 square meters, framed by a border of cinder blocks 2 rows high. They are lined with gold colored canvas on the inside and topped with grey canvas on the outside.
The residents of Zarawa camp have devised a system of sharing tents by rotating with each other, spending some time living with their families in the municipality and some time in the camp. While in school, children live with relatives in Zarawa municipality, separated from their nuclear families.
Because of the great strain on the local economy and on what few public services are available, the municipality of Zarawa was reluctant to allow construction of the new camp and created several obstacles. The UNHCR recognizes that the site is not a sustainable resettlement solution for the camp?s residents.
The location is barren and desolate. There is not one tree for shade. The villagers cannot have animals of any kind in the camp. This is just as well because they had to sell what animals they could to buy the plot of land on which the camp is built. There is no electricity. The UNHCR has promised them a well, but the villagers have a wait-and-see attitude about whether or not this will ever happen. And since nearly every inch of land they occupy is covered with either a tent or a toilet, they cannot grow any food inside the camp.
The empty adjacent field mocks the villagers with the possibility of food it could provide. But they can?t grow food there, either, because it is private property. So they rely on what relief they get from the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) rations and the meager supplies the Iraq national food card can buy them. Sometimes they risk going back to their village to gather mushrooms and walnuts and to harvest whatever livestock might still be alive.
That journey is long and hazardous. First, they climb over a bombed out bridge. Then they must pass three military checkpoints, the Pesmerge, then the Asaish (Kurdish Secret Police) and then the PKK.
The rest of the way is littered with landmines.
This is the situation of Kurdish villagers who have been forced to leave their homes and chosen not to go back until the political situation is resolved. Ours was a rare glimpse into the lives of people who live outside the ?radar? of international news but squarely in the crosshairs of sophisticated weaponry used by attackers who barely acknowledge that their victims exist.
Gerald Paoli lives in community with and is a Co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence www.vcvn.org. He is currently working with Christian Peacemaker Teams www.cpt.org in Iraqi Kurdistan documenting human rights abuses against Kurdish mountain villagers on the borders with Turkey and Iran.
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8. Extraditing Kurds to Turkey will not help resolve Turkish-Kurdish tension

KNC – North America – 20/05/2009
Kurdish National Congress of North America

Recently, Spanish authorities decided to extradite two Kurdish political activists, Dr. Remzi Kartal and Mr.Eyyup Daru to Turkey on unclear grounds. In fact, these appear to be the same charges that were thrown out by a German court in 2005.
Spain is a democratic country and as promoter of democracy and preserver of human rights, Spain should be sensitive to the long history of the Turkish oppression against the Kurds. We would expect Spain to join those who are diligently working to find a solution to the Kurdish cause and not contribute to the problem. Spanish authorities should know that Kurdish rights are a human rights issue, a political issue, and cultural issue; therefore for Spain to extradite these Kurdish activists is a violation of its own human rights credo.
Turkey?s request for EU membership has not been supported by some EU member nations. We therefore hope that this action on the part of Spanish authorities is not intended as a way to soothe Turkey?s disappointment against the decision of some EU members.
Extraditing Kurds to Turkey will not resolve the Kurdish issue. Therefore, instead of continuing to live in a cycle of fear, hate and repression, it is in Turkey?s interest to take a step back and look at the long shared history of cooperation between the Turks and the Kurds. Kurds and Turks have come a long way together and have shared many joys and sorrows in the past centuries.
For Turkey to demonstrate that it has the human rights policies of a future EU nation, it would be in their interest to revive this shared history where Kurds and Turks are partners in creating a better future rather than antagonists who live in the past. Turkey holds the key to resolve this conflict.
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9. Border conflicts test Kurdish tightrope act

Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR)
Date: 15 May 2009
By Najeeba Mohammed in Erbil and IWPR editors (ICR No. 289, 15-May-09)

American support seen as crucial to helping Iraqi Kurds resolve rebel conflicts with Turkey and Iran.

The Iraqi Kurdish administration is running out of options as it faces growing pressure to end the fighting between its neighbours and Kurdish rebels based inside its borders.
But analysts say a breakthrough in the decades-old conflicts is impossible without closer American engagement.
Iraqi Kurdish leaders have postponed plans for a conference, due to have been held this spring, where many had hoped the rebels would be urged to lay down their arms.
Meanwhile, tension has been mounting in Iraq’s remote, mountainous north, with Turkey and Iran directing air raids and artillery fire across the border at what they say are Kurdish rebel bases.
Analysts say the Kurdistan Regional Government, KRG, must take a more active role in ending the conflicts being played out on its territory.
Henri Barkey, author of a recent report on the region for a Washington-based think-tank the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told IWPR the KRG could seek to persuade the rebels to agree to some form of deal “and ensure that a demilitarisation is done honourably”.
Fuad Husayn, the chief of staff for the Kurdistan region’s president, Massoud Barzani, said the KRG wanted “good relations with its neighbours” and rejected the activities of “any force which uses the region’s soil” to attack them.
He told IWPR the KRG believed dialogue was the only way to secure peace. “Such issues cannot be solved through military actions from any side,” he said. However, he said, the KRG had not held any discussions with the rebel Kurdish Workers’ Party, PKK, on ending the fighting.
Unlike the KRG, the United States endorses military action as part of a broader solution to the conflict. A US embassy official in Ankara told IWPR Washington’s strategy to end the fighting included supporting Turkey “with intelligence sharing and other operations”.
The US stepped up its engagement in the region in 2007 by classifying the PKK as a terrorist organisation ? a move which effectively bars the group from any potential US-backed peace talks.
“The PKK has conducted more than enough violent acts to justify being labelled a terrorist organisation,” said the US official, when asked whether the move to proscribe the group may have weakened prospects for an eventual settlement by affirming Turkey’s military strategy.
The US official stressed that military operations alone would not solve the conflict. She said leaders in the region were working towards “a comprehensive solution that includes other aspects of the Kurdish issue”, such as economic and social development.
But Barkey says the US “has not been as energetic as it could have been” in pursuing a resolution of the conflict.
As a partner to Turkey within the NATO alliance and a vocal supporter of its bid to join the EU, Washington has great influence over Ankara’s political leadership and its powerful military.
The US also holds sway with the KRG, which is looking to Washington to safeguard Iraq’s federal system amid fears that Baghdad is trying to curb the Kurds’ extensive autonomy. Recent events suggest the Iraqi Kurdish leadership cannot revive the peace process without American help, say analysts.
Turkish air force jets this month bombed what they said were bases used by the PKK in northern Iraq, reportedly killing ten rebel fighters.
Iran too stepped up its attacks on the PKK’s smaller offshoot, the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan, PJAK, by firing artillery shells and sending attack helicopters across the border into Iraq.
The attacks on the ground were accompanied by diplomatic pressure on the KRG to crack down on the rebels.
PKK and PJAK are accused of using terrorist tactics to achieve a separate Kurdish state. Both groups deny this, insisting they only want greater autonomy for Kurdish minorities living in Turkey and Iran.
They also accuse Iraqi Kurdish leaders of betrayal. Rozh Wlat, a spokesman for the PKK, said the KRG and Baghdad supported Iran and Turkey’s bombardment along its borders. “They are also responsible for this conflict because they have signed agreements… to stand against us,” he said.
Sympathy for the PKK is widespread among nationalistic Iraqi Kurds, who see the rebels as champions of their oppressed kin abroad. Many also believe the KRG should take firmer action against the border attacks, which they regard as an encroachment on their sovereignty.
Shabaz Jamal, of the People’s Development Association, an Iraqi Kurdish NGO, says the Kurdish street is divided between those who support the PKK and those who question why the rebels are “giving our neighbours a legitimate excuse to shell our borders”.
Husayn says the KRG had raised the issue of the border attacks with its neighbours ? but its options for action were limited. “How can you defend against a shell coming from the other side of the border?” he said. “Talks are the only solution.”
Answering those who have accused the KRG of failing to criticise the attacks loudly enough, he told IWPR the issue “cannot be solved through condemnation”.
The president of the Iraqi Kurdistan region, Massoud Barzani, has voiced concern for civilians affected by the latest violence, while the Iraqi foreign ministry formally complained to Iran over its attacks earlier this month.
However, the KRG has kept its forces out of the conflicts, claiming it does not have the means or the grounds to retaliate.
“The KRG can’t attack or oust PJAK and PKK because [Iran and Turkey’s] problem is not with the KRG,” said Jabbar Yawar, a top official in charge of Kurdish forces.
Yawar said Kurdish troops can defend the borders “if there are any ground assaults, but not against bombardments and aerial strikes”.
The KRG has long ruled out military action against the rebels, as demanded by Turkey and Iran. It has also avoided retaliating against its neighbours, as demanded by the Kurdish street.
Treading a tightrope between domestic opinion and foreign policy, the region’s leaders have invested their efforts in pushing the rebels to the negotiating table.
In March, Iraq’s president and the leader of one of its two major Kurdish parties, Jalal Talabani, announced plans for an international peace conference drawing together the region’s Kurdish political groups.
The conference could have seen the triumphant climax of the KRG’s careful diplomacy if, as many had hoped, it yielded a declaration demanding the PKK and PJAK disarm.
But the meeting, due to have been hosted in Iraqi Kurdistan, was postponed. The reasons behind the cancellation are unclear. However, the delay has highlighted the problems the KRG faces as it seeks to promote peace beyond its borders.
Mahmoud Othman, an independent Iraqi Kurdish member of parliament, said the conference was still in the works ? and the PKK’s disarmament had never been on its agenda.
“Disarmament of the PKK has never been officially discussed,” he said. “The conference will outline a strategy for peace put forward by all the Kurds.”
He stressed that the Kurds “cannot achieve peace unilaterally” and called on Ankara to review its policy on the PKK and work towards a middle ground. He also said the US needed to take a leading role in the process, having so far only “echoed Ankara’s rhetoric”.
Fareed Assarad, head of the Sulaimaniyah-based Kurdistan Centre for Strategic Studies, said the conference would have run into difficulties if it had tried to persuade the PKK to give up the gun, “The PKK is not ready and has not volunteered to disarm.”
Assarad said the conference would also have found it difficult to unite diverse Kurdish issues.
“The issues are unique to each country. In Turkey, the problem is about Kurdish identity, while in Iran there are no issues over identity ? but there is a rejection of the Kurdish political cause,” he said.
Barkey argues that the US should aim to unite the KRG and Ankara in a body that jointly oversees the eventual disarmament of the PKK.
“Left to their own devices, none of the parties has shown much ability to move forward…. The United States can approach matters with a broader outlook and vision,” his report concluded.
He told IWPR the detente between Ankara and the Iraqi Kurds could be consolidated through “a series of sequential, simultaneous steps”.
These included some form of amnesty for PKK fighters; the demilitarisation of the PKK; greater Turkish support for the KRG; and agreement over the future of the Iraqi oil city of Kirkuk, contested by Kurds and Arabs.
Barkey warned that hardliners on both sides stand to gain most by prolonging the fighting. “People are making money from the conflict,” he said.
Some 80,000 Kurdish “Village Guards” have been enlisted by Turkey as an informal militia against PKK. The PKK’s ranks include some who profit from the war and have no vision of themselves in a peaceful society.
Elements in the Turkish military could seek to aggravate the conflict in order to undermine the Ankara government. According to Barkey, a settlement would also have to overcome “arch-nationalists in Turkey who think of the Kurds still as some inferior race”.
The US embassy official in Ankara told IWPR that the American policy of urging dialogue between Turkey, Iraq and the Iraqi Kurds was beginning to bear fruit.
“Yes, this is an incredibly complex problem. We have been encouraging dialogue between Turks and Iraqis for some time,” said the official. “We do believe that we’re starting to see results in the last few months.”
While the talks continue, the mountain villagers of northern Iraq pay a high price for living on a frontline.
Ali Hamad, 30, fled his home in Razga village, near the Iranian border, when fighting flared between Iran and PJAK earlier this year. He returned in February with his wife and one-year-old son after a tentative ceasefire deal.
“We had the government’s word that Iran would not shell again,” said Hamad. “But one night we were awoken by artillery fire. My son was killed and my wife and I were wounded.”
This report was produced by IWPR-trained journalist Najeeba Mohammed, based in Erbil, and by IWPR Iraq editors Neil Arun in Erbil, Roman Zagros in Sulaimaniyah and Tiare Rath in New York.
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10. Kurd official denies US trains rebels

20 5 2009
AFP

A senior Iraqi Kurd official on Wednesday joined the United States in rejecting Iranian accusations that the US military trains separatist Kurdish rebels for undercover work in Iran. Skip related content “With all due to respect to Mr Khamenei, it appears that he has received incorrect information,” said Jabbar Yawar, about the accusations made by Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
“The United States has no military base in Kurdistan to train the PJAK (Party of Free Life of Kurdistan),” said Yawar, the spokesman for the Peshmerga ministry, the Kurdish equivalent of the Iraqi defence ministry.
“The United States put the PJAK and the PKK (the Kurdistan Workers’ Party) on their list of terrorist groups, so how can they support these groups they regard as terrorists.”
Khamenei said on Tuesday that the United States was trying to make mercenaries out of young Kurds.
“Behind our western border, the US is training terrorists. It is spending money and handing out weapons to be used against the Islamic republic” of Iran, he said.
“Americans have dangerous plans for (Iraqi) Kurdistan … Their plans are not aimed at defending the Kurdish people, but they want to control them,” Khamenei said in a televised speech.
The US Defence Department on Tuesday dismissed the accusations and countered that Tehran was meddling in Iraq.
“I find it ironic that the Iranians would be accusing us of meddling, when in fact over the last six, seven years in Iraq they have consistently been trying to undermine the peace and stability that we are trying to bring to the Iraqi people there,” Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said.
The border region with Iraq has often seen deadly clashes between Iran’s armed forces and the Kurdish separatists.
Iranians have targeted PJAK, an Iranian Kurdish separatist group which has launched attacks on Iran from rear-supply bases in the Kurdish mountains of northern Iraq.
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11. Iran’s political system

Thursday, 28 May 2009
The Los Angeles Times

The winner of Iran’s June 12 presidential election will enjoy only limited power in the nation’s complex system.
How does the Islamic Republic’s political system work?
It combines elements of democracy with unelected religious leadership. The elected president is technically subordinate to the appointed supreme leader. Similarly, the elected parliament is shadowed by the Guardian Council, a panel of 12 unelected clerics and Islamic jurists who have the power to reject legislation deemed un-Islamic and veto presidential and parliamentary candidates.
How powerful is the president
In theory, the president’s powers are second only to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. In practice, his freedom of action can be curtailed by various unelected bodies mostly controlled by clerics. These bodies, including the Guardian Council, have generally backed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad since he was elected in 2005, but thwarted his reformist predecessor Mohammad Khatami.
What does the president do?
The president is responsible for economic policy and, along with his Cabinet, daily management of national and foreign affairs; heads the Supreme National Security Council, which coordinates defense and security policy; and can sign agreements with foreign governments and approve ambassadorial appointments. On major issues he defers to the supreme leader.
What does the supreme leader do?
The supreme leader, appointed by an assembly of senior clerics, has the final say in vital matters such as nuclear policy and foreign relations. He sets the outlines of domestic and foreign policy, and controls the armed forces and intelligence agencies. He appoints the heads of the judiciary and the state broadcasting company and other key posts.
— reuters and times staff reports
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12. Transcript: DOD News Briefing-US Department of Defense about PJAK

Briefing by Press Secretary Geoff Morrell
May 19, 2009

Q Geoff, today Iran’s supreme leader, Khamenei, said that the U.S. military is financing operations to undermine the Islamic republic. Do you have any comment on that?
MR. MORRELL: I don’t, other than that it’s terribly ironic, given the fact that the Iranians continue to provide financing and weaponry to undermine our efforts to stabilize the governments in Iraq and Afghanistan. We continue to find, especially in Iraq, caches of Iranian-supplied weapons. EFPs of varying sizes were discovered as recently as last week in operations in Iraq, large numbers of them, in addition to the fact that we continue to see connections between terrorist groups in Iraq and training that they received in Iran.
I should say the same is true on the Syrian side of the Iraqi border, where we continue to see, you know, foreign fighters flowing across the Syrian side of the border.
So I find it ironic that the Iranians would be accusing us of meddling when in fact over the last six, seven years in Iraq they have consistently been trying to undermine the peace and stability that we are trying to bring to the Iraqi people there.
Full Text of the Briefing http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=4425