Kurdish rebels fighting in Turkey say they won't disarm

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
Media: The Associated Press
Date: 24 August 2006

QANDIL MOUNTAIN RANGE, Iraq_A senior leader of a Kurdish separatist group
operating in Turkey said the group's guerrillas will not disarm without a
"political project" that fulfills their calls for autonomy.

The Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, invited a group of journalists based in
northern Iraq to meet with party officials late Wednesday at an undisclosed
location in the rugged, isolated Qandil Mountain in Iraq's northeast corner
where they are based.

"We will remain in the Qandil Mountains area and any demand to disarm
without a political project is tantamount to suicide for us," Murat
Karayilan, PKK's co-president, told reporters late Wednesday.

Karayilan said the group "will not repeat the mistake" of offering an
unconditional cease-fire.

The PKK called a unilateral cease-fire after the capture of its leader,
Abdullah Ocalan, in 1999, but resumed fighting in June 2004, accusing Turkey
of not responding in kind and refusing rebel calls for dialogue.

The group has been fighting for autonomy in Turkey's largely Kurdish
southeast, a conflict that has left some 37,000 dead since clashes began in

But in recent months, the conflict has escalated after the group, which is
listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European
Union, renewed its offensive against the Turkish military, killing at least
15 Turks in the southeast in the first half of July.

The PKK charges that the Turkish military has been shelling villages in
Qandil Mountain, killing civilians and displacing thousands of villagers.

Talking to reporters in Iraq, Karayilan urged the United States to

"We respect the American calls for disarmament, but the Americans must
intervene to come up with a political solution for the Kurdish problem in
Turkey," he said, sitting in a room plastered with photos of Ocalan and PKK
flags. "The Turkish military deployment on the border should stop, the
attacks against us should come to an end."

He added that if the Turkish government wanted to end the crisis, it should
"show signs of goodwill" by at least improving the conditions of Ocalan's
detention and starting negotiations.

Last month, the Turkish prime minister said his country's military was
moving forward in drafting plans to sending forces into Iraq to clear out
the bases of the Kurdish guerillas. But he also added that officials were
holding talks with the United States and Iraq in an attempt to defuse

A Turkish cross-border operation would likely inflame tensions between
Turkey and the United States and destabilize one of the few calm areas of

Karayilan said his 6,000 fighters will not leave the strategic border area,
and that if they did, it will be taken over by Ansar al-Islam, a radical
Islamic group linked to al-Qaida.

"We should be thanked for maintaining security in this rugged, porous border
area that's very difficult to control," he said, explaining that Ansar
al-Islam has been imposing a strict brand of Islam on villages along the
border with Iran which served as their base.

"We are not terrorists ... we're preventing international terrorism from
infiltrating Kurdistan and Iraq."