News / Middle East

PKK Pullout from Turkey Raises Tensions

A Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighter stands guard at the Qandil mountains near the Iraq-Turkish border in Sulaimaniya, 330 km northeast of Baghdad, March 24, 2013.
A Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighter stands guard at the Qandil mountains near the Iraq-Turkish border in Sulaimaniya, 330 km northeast of Baghdad, March 24, 2013.
Dorian Jones
Members of the Kurdish rebel group the PKK have started withdrawing from Turkey into neighboring Iraq. The move is being seen as a crucial step in the peace process but both sides are voicing concerns over the withdrawal process. 
 
The withdrawal of the estimated 1,500 to 2,000 fighters is part of ongoing peace efforts to end the nearly three-decades-long fighting with the Turkish state.  The spokesman and deputy head of the ruling AK party, Huseyin Celik, said in a press statement Wednesday that the withdrawal is the latest positive development in peace efforts.

The fact that fingers are lifted off the triggers, that the guns are now silent and the bombs are no longer exploding is a first step, and this is important, he said. 
 
However, disarming the PKK is a priority of the government, and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday reiterated his call for the withdrawing rebels to lay down their arms before leaving the country.  
 
The PKK has refused to disarm its withdrawing forces. PKK military leader Murat Karayilan voiced concern over what he claims is an increase in Turkish military activity and, in particular, the presence of the unmanned drones in the region from which they are withdrawing. 
 
In 1999, the last time the PKK withdrew its forces from Turkey, it suffered heavy losses at the hands of the Turkish army. The co-leader of the pro-Kurdish BDP, Gultan Kisanak, expressed concern over the latest withdrawal.
 
Recalling the PKK withdrawal in 1999, she said that "we will hold the government responsible for any military operation." She added that disarmament will "only come as part of a political process."

Prime Minister Erdogan has promised that PKK rebels will not be attacked while they withdraw. But he also said the risk of confrontation would be minimized if the rebels were unarmed. 
 
Thus far there have been no formal negotiations between the PKK and the Turkish government. The current withdrawal is the result of informal talks between the head of Turkish intelligence, Hakan Fidan, and the imprisoned PKK leader, Abdullah Ocalan.
 
Kadri Gursel, a columnist for the Turkish newspaper Milliyet who is an expert on the Kurdish conflict, says expectations for government concessions will grow during the withdrawal.
 
"The expectation of the PKK will be to see major steps being taken in solving the Kurdish problem. If Turkey will be reluctant to take these steps, this will be a looming menace over Turkey. But the process itself has gained its own independent momentum and dynamic right now. And those who will impede this process will bear a major responsibility and pay a price," he said. 
 
Prime Minister Erdogan has ruled out any formal negotiations with or concessions to the PKK before its forces withdraw from Turkey. Now that the withdrawal has started, Turkey is likely to feel more pressure to take steps to meet Kurdish demands. Both the PKK and political Kurdish leaders are calling for release of thousands activists from jail, as well as political and cultural reforms.

Turkish government spokesman Huseyin Celik said Wednesday that Ankara would inject more "oxygen" into the peace process.

You May Like

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: james chen from: USA
May 08, 2013 2:53 PM
U.S. has be wrong morally and also strategically not supporting PKK. The most absurd thing was to label PKK, a group of freedom fighters fighting for a secular government, autonomy and workers' rights, as a terrorist group. All the founding fathers of U.S.A. would come out of graves to slap faces of our current polilitical leaders.
In Response

by: Ferdi from: Turkey
May 08, 2013 4:03 PM
Why you guys do not mention that PKK is a terrorist group killed thousands of people over the years. I'm sure you know that USA and EU accepted PKK as terrorist group but in all articles I'm reading here, PKK is being mentioned like a political party or freedom fighters of Kurt people living in Turkey... This is so wrong! Please be objective! Do you think a terrorist group that attacked the USA is so bad but others are freedom fighters?
There is no difference between Kürt and Türk citizens here they all have equal rights in the eye of law, even there were Kurt origin presidents in Turkey’s history. We all live side by side, but some radical groups say Kurt people are suffering. They do this because they have different agenda…

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs