After a decade of solitary confinement at an island jail on the Sea of Marmara, the jailed separatist PKK (Kurdish Workers Party) leader Abdullah Ocalan finds himself assiduously courted by none other than Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a bid for reconciliation.
Ocalan was captured by Turkish security forces with American assistance in 1999, tried on charges of terrorism and confined ever since to Imrali island jail. He is more than willing for a deal to buy his freedom. Signs that the negotiations led by Hakan Fidan, director of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization, MIT, are going well are to be found in the easing of Ocalan’s conditions of imprisonment in recent weeks and in another apparently unrelated event.
On Jan. 10, the bodies of three Kurdish women activists were found at the Kurdistan Information Center in Paris. Sakine Cansiz, Fidan Dogan and Leyla Soylemez had died of shots to the head.
Our French and Turkish intelligence sources attribute the execution-style murders indirectly to the peace talks between the Turkish government and their leader, Ocalan, and the ins and outs of PKK internal politics.
Sakine Cansız was known to be loyal to the de facto PKK leader, Murat Karayılan, whose military headquarters is located in the Kandil Mountains of Iraq.
For some time, Karayılan has been at odds with one of his guerilla commanders, the exceptionally radical and ruthless Bahoz Erdal who is of Syrian-Kurdish origin and strongly opposed to the ongoing reconciliation talks with the Erdogan government.
He or his henchmen are the foremost suspects in the murder of Sakine Cansiz.
Kurdish leaders must give up separatist struggle, accept European exile
As a gesture for the sake of the talks, Erdogan permitted the bodies of the three women to be brought to Diyarbakir in eastern Antalya for burial in the unofficial Kurdish capital. The funeral turned out to be the largest Kurdish national demonstration Turkey has seen in years.
On Friday, Jan. 25, The Turkish prime minister reshuffled his government and sacked the ministers opposed to a deal with the PKK, as five high points of a possible ceasefire accord between Erdogan and Ocalan began taking shape, according to DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s sources:
1. The PKK will disband the 4,000 fighters of the underground terrorist networks it keeps hidden in southern Turkey along with their cells in Istanbul and other Turkish cities:
2. The PKK will disarm all its estimated 10,000 fighters including the roughly 3,000 based in Iraqi strongholds;
3. Ankara will permit their repatriation to Turkey to live normal lives;
4. Ocalan will be moved out of his island jail to temporary house detention on the Turkish mainland before being set free to live in exile in Europe.
5. The entire central Kurdish political and military leadership, the PKK’s backbone, will leave Kurdistan and relocate in Europe after taking an oath to forswear terrorist activities for good.
Iran acts to thwart a Turkish-PKK ceasefire
Prime Minister Erdogan plans to gradually implement the terms of his reconciliation accord with the PKK up until the 2014 Turkish presidential election. He would then run as the national savior who brought to an end years of Kurdish terrorist violence at the cost of many thousands of lives on both sides.
He would seek the Kurdish vote, which represents a constituency of 18 million people, one-quarter of the total Turkish population. A recommendation by their leaders in return for a pledge of more autonomy could swing the election in his favor and bring him the presidency.
The Erdogan scheme has many Kurdish opponents and much bad blood to overcome. It is also feared by Tehran and Damascus. Broader autonomy for Turkish Kurds and a ceasefire would trigger similar demands from their compatriots in Iran and Syria.
Iran is expected to resort to extreme measures to thwart the Turkish-PKK peace accord, such as stirring up its hardline opponents like the tough PKK commanders Cemil Bayik and Duran Kalkan, who are vehemently against it.