PKK may soon take first step in response to Turkey’s Kurdish initiative   

By Turkish Taraf – Al Monitor – 31.1.2013 – The PKK is expected to announce the first group of 20 militants to give up their arms and begin withdrawing from the Dersim region to acknowledge the seriousness of the Imrali process — negotiations with the Turkish government — and a gesture of the PKK’s positive approach.

The PKK will announce its decision for this symbolic move with a declaration, however, a full withdrawal cannot be undertaken during the winter. In the meanwhile some other key markers have been decided on:

— Erbil is the new Oslo: The new negotiation location will be Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan instead of Oslo. Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) opposed the suggestion of moving this location to Sulaimaniyah [Iraqi Kurdistan] on grounds that it could be subject to Iranian influence. MIT Chief Hakan Fidan’s visit to Erbil was postponed because of the Paris assassinations. Four MIT officials will be permanently based in Erbil [the capital city of Kurdistan].

— Full support from Qandil: The PKK leadership at PKK’s Qandil Mountain military headquarters announced support for the Imrali process, saying negotiations with Abdullah Ocalan were enough.    

  — Confidence in Fidan: The roles of Barzani and the Iraqi Kurdistan administration in the process is becoming clearer and more prominent. Barzani’s circles are said to have full confidence in the Turkish intelligence chief, Hakan Fidan. According to reports, the previous intelligence chief, Emre Taner, did not enjoy this kind of confidence.

— Nine-person team: The negotiations are carried out by a nine-person team of experts from the MIT. They work directly under Hakan Fidan and report to him. Turkish military are not any more included in the process. The PKK is aware of civilians taking over negotiations but they are wondering whether these nine individuals represent any of the political trends outside the government.

— Erbil-Imrali-Europe triangle: The PKK doesn’t trust Europe in the negotiation process. They cite French operations against the PKK during the Oslo process. Both parties to the negotiations think European countries are trying to impede the process.

— The PKK blacks out media contacts: The PKK has decided not to meet with media representatives so as not to damage the process. They will reconsider after certain developments.