International News

Iraq Offers Support to Kurdish PKK Guerrillas
by Al-Hayat, London, 06/01/1998
Posted: Wednesday, May 31, 2000 07:25 pm CST

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AL-HAYAT) -- Iraq has reportedly allowed the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) to open offices in Baghdad and in the northern Iraqi cities of Mosul and Kirkuk.

According to the June 28 edition of the London-based, Arabic language newspaper "Al-Hayat," Iraq has also begun to provide the PKK with weapons and logistical support.

Iraq has reportedly also requested that the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) allow the PKK to operate in areas of northern Iraq under their control.

Iran, Syria, and Greece have reportedly provided refuge and support to the PKK, but Baghdad has recently avoided active support of the group. Earlier this year, Baghdad appeared to acquiesce to Turkish efforts to destroy the PKK. Having nearly crushed the PKK within Turkey, the Turkish army has operated recently in northern Iraq with the support of the KDP to finish off the PKK. A major Turkish offensive last month looked like it was succeeding, when several high-ranking PKK commanders defected from the group to the KDP. London-based Kurdish "Med TV" on June 27 reported that PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan was ready to negotiate a political solution to the Kurdish issue. Ocalan reportedly said the PKK were ready to lay down arms in return for a Turkish recognition of the "Kurdish identity" and a "wide Kurdish autonomy within the present borders."

The KDP reportedly continues to support the Turkish army, fighting the PKK and blocking access to Turkish positions. This has brought criticism from the PUK, with whom the KDP have been pursuing closer ties. Jabbar Farman, military commander of the PUK, commented that "At the moment, it is Kurds who are losing, because Kurds are fighting Kurds." The establishment of an entrenched Turkish presence in northern Iraq, as well as Turkish and KDP successes against the PKK, have apparently raised concerns in Baghdad over Turkey's ultimate intentions.

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