Experts: Iraq could help Turkey in weakening PKK terrorists

Experts: Iraq could help Turkey in weakening PKK terrorists

Azerbaijan, Baku, Sept. 28 / Trend U.Sadikhova /

The Kurdish regional government of Iraq can greatly assist Turkey in the fight against the terrorist organization Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), Turkish experts contacted by Trend believe.

A week after the expiry of a ceasefire between the PKK and the Turkish army, Turkish Interior Minister Besir Atalay arrived in Arbil on Sunday to hold talks with representatives of the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq, CNN Turk reported.

Atalay headed for city of Salah ad-Din where he had a meeting with Massoud Barzani, head of the Kurdish regional administration. The meeting lasted for three hours and was closed to the press.

According to the CNN Turk, the main theme of the talks was the activity of the PKK on the Turkish-Iraqi border. The ceasefire was also discussed. According to Turkish media, during the meeting Barzani and Atalay said that the ceasefire should be extended.

Turkish experts welcomed the Barzani-Atalay meeting for Ankara's fight against terrorists, arguing that the Barzani administration can make a significant contribution to reducing the PKK's activities.

"The Kurdish administration wants to stop the PKK's activities due to the fact that the majority of its members are in northern Iraq, but it is a complex process," Hilmi Ozev, an analyst at the Turkish-Asian Center for Strategic Studies (TASAM), told Trend.

Ozev said the unifying factor in the fight of Turkey and the Barzani administration against the PKK terrorists in the northern Iraq is the good relations that both enjoy with the administration of the United States.

The PKK, which has been declared a terrorist organization by Washington and Brussels, was founded in the late 1970s to fight for an independent Kurdish state in north-east Turkey, which is predominantly populated by Kurds. The party started as a political organization, but since 1980 its members have committed terrorist attacks against the civilian population and military facilities in Turkey. Their activities have resulted in the death of 40,000 people in armed clashes.

Most of the militants are based in the province of Kandi and Makhmour in northern Iraq, where the Turkish army regularly conducts anti-terror operations.

TiMETURK Information Portal Director Turan Kislakci believes an agreement between Ankara and the Barzani administration on renunciation of weapons by the PKK has almost been reached, if some Kurdish leaders do not voice claims in Arbil.

"Turkey's demand that the PKK's leaders lay down arms at a military base in Makhmour was approved by the Kurdish leadership. Some leaders of the PKK almost agreed, but they plan to put forward a number of requirements in the coming days," Kislakci told Trend over the telephone. He believes that the PKK leaders' statements in the near future could play an important role in the further steps of Turkey and the Kurdish administration of Iraq on the common border.

The PKK is demanding that Ankara release from prison the leader of the organization, Abdullah Ocalan, who is serving a life sentence in Imrali island prison, as a condition for a continuation of the ceasefire.

Turkey has invited countries in the region, particularly Iraq, to provide all possible support to suppress the activities of terrorists and arming on the territory of neighboring states.

Ozev said the Kurdish administration in northern Iraq must first cut off the supply of food and weapons to the militants on the border with Turkey.

"Such action will greatly weaken the PKK," he said. "Of course, it is very difficult to clamp down on the PKK in northern Iraq, given the geographical conditions. However, the Kurdish administration may take steps to help Turkey and even take advantage of U.S. support."

Ankara and Baghdad have repeatedly held negotiations on the conduct of joint struggle against the PKK, but they were unsuccessful due to political chaos in the country after the war in 2003.

The Hurriyet Daily News commentator and head of Center for International Relations and Strategic Studies,Celal Cem Oguz, believes this time the Kurdish administration of northern Iraq will fulfill promises made to Ankara in the fight against separatists, taking into account the requirements of the U.S. administration.

"The U.S. is also seeking to stop the terrorists on the Iraqi-Turkish border, so the Kurdish administration, taking this into account, will cooperate more actively," Oguz told Trend..

Oguz finds it necessary to wait for the future statements of the PKK leaders after the termination of the armistice regime, based on the further steps of Ankara and the Barzani administration .

Meanwhile, the Turkish newspaper Taraf wrote that the PKK militants are promptly leaving the territory of Turkey.

According to the newspaper, Abdullah Ocalan ordered the militants to leave the areas, where a probability of clashes with Turkish troops is high.

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