In light of Massoud Barzani's visit to
November 14, 2011
Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — The recent visit of
Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani to Turkey
and talks with top officials of that country has
been the subject of much speculation and coverage by
the Turkish media.
Barzani’s visit came in the wake of a series of
bloody attacks by the guerrillas of the Kurdistan
Worker’s Party (PKK) that killed 24 Turkish
Infuriated by the PKK attack, Turkey launched
intensive air and ground raids on PKK positions in
the mountains between Iraqi Kurdistan and Turkey.
Many in Turkey wondered if Barzani and Turkey had
Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani (left)
with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in
Ankara. Photo: Reuters
reached any deal to
confront the PKK. In fact some Turkish media outlets
reported as Barzani’s plane landed in Istanbul that
“Barzani has come to coordinate attacks on the PKK.”
One day after the end of Barzani’s visit, Turkish
journalist Murat Yetkin wrote in daily Hurriyet that
Barzani’s visit was at the request of Turkish Prime
Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan who wanted to meet the
Kurdish leader urgently.
Although Erdogan was in Europe when Barzani arrived
in Turkey, the Kurdish president was scheduled to
meet with Turkish President Abdullah Gul and foreign
minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Yetkin wrote that Turkish
officials wanted to encourage Barzani to support
Turkey’s fight against the PKK.
“But Barzani’s statements disappointed many of
Turkish politicians and the media,” wrote Yetkin.
In Turkey, Barzani said on more than one occasion
that “war does not resolve the problems.”
This was construed as a rejection of Turkish demands
for Barzani’s support in battling the PKK.
Meeting with a number of Turkish journalists in
Istanbul, Barzani said, “I know your army is
strong,” he said, in reference to the Turkish
military, “but who are you fighting? This isn’t a
war on battlefields.”
Barzani referred to his time as a Peshmarga fighting
Saddam Hussein’s regime. He said despite the
superiority of the Iraqi army, they could not defeat
Kurdish fighters who often carried and fought with
light weapons in the mountains.
“So, in Barzani’s view, Turkey’s war against the PKK
will neither be beneficial nor will it resolve any
problem,” wrote Yetkin.
Shortly before his meeting with Erdogan on Nov. 4,
Barzani said he strongly opposed war and urged the
PKK to understand that “war does not serve the
Kurdish cause in Turkey.”
At the same time, Barzani said to a number of
Kurdish MPs, that he was in Istanbul to encourage
“I told them openly and honestly that I am against
war because it cannot serve the cause of Kurdistan
people or Turkish interests. My message is very
clear which is we should believe in a peaceful
solution and not think of any other alternative,”
Barzani told Turkish journalists.
He urged both the Kurds and Turkish government to
resume talks, saying, “It doesn’t matter if the
process of negotiation gets lengthy, the important
thing is this is the best course of action to take.”
With Barzani in Turkey, some Turkish media outlets
reported that the Kurdistan Regional Government
(KRG) has agreed to set up checkpoints in its
territory to confront the PKK guerrillas.
“If the problem is going to be resolved by setting
up a few checkpoints in the area, then why doesn’t
Turkey set up those checkpoints on its side of the
border? We need to be realistic because neither
through military methods nor setting up some
checkpoints this problem is going to be resolved,”
Barzani also criticized the Turkish authorities for
arresting large numbers of Kurdish politicians and
activists on the ground of alleged connection with
“If people are arrested because of political
reasons, then this won’t serve the process of
democracy,” asserted Barzani.
One day after his meeting with Barzani, PM Erdogan
delivered a speech in Istanbul’s famous Blue Mosque
on the occasion of the Muslim holy Eid al-Adha, in
which he strongly attacked the PKK. He said Turkish
security forces will continue fighting the PKK.
Erdogan also maintained that, “the solution of the
Kurdish issue has to come from within the
“If what they are doing is politics, then Parliament
is the place for politics. Everybody can resolve
their problems inside Parliament. If there is a
right to be taken,www.ekurd.net
then it should be done inside Parliament,” Turkish
prime minister said.
Erdogan’s remarks in Blue Mosque were markedly
different from earlier remarks by his foreign
minister who had said the PKK needs to be finished
off through military means.
Hurriyet reported that Turkish officials had asked
Barzani to ensure Peshmarga forces keep checkpoints
that separate the KRG-controlled areas from the PKK
zone. They also requested that the Kurdish Peshmarga
would pass on intelligence to the Turks on PKK
The Turks also hoped the Kurdish government would
place strict monitoring in airports, especially
Erbil International Airport, as they suspect some of
PKK’s funds from Europe pass through the Erbil
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