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

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid