Kurdish Party Leader Denies Secret Meeting with Baghdad

27/10/2012 RUDAW – ERBIL, Kurdistan Region– Diyar Garib, leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Solution Party (PCDK) – an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) based in the Kurdistan Region – denies meeting with and receiving support from the Iraqi government.

The denial comes amid rumors that a secret meeting was held between officials close to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and members of the PKK. According to a source, who spoke to Rudaw under the condition of anonymity, Garib met with one of Maliki’s security advisors in Kirkuk province, along with Shahin Cilo, a PKK leader, and a PKK official from Syria. “Later, Garib went to Baghdad with another PKK official and the Iraqi government supplied them with night-vision goggles and military equipment,” the source said. Garib denies these claims.

Political observers have noted a shift in the rhetoric of some Iraqi government officials towards the PKK and said it raises questions. Baghdad has a security treaty with Turkey and the United States against the PKK. Maliki has demanded the removal of PKK bases in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. But currently, Baghdad is asking Turkey to remove its military bases that exist on the border regions of Duhok province in the Kurdistan Region.

Garib believes that the shift in position of Iraqi officials is due to a disagreement between the foreign policies of Iran and Turkey. “Maliki and [Turkish Prime Minister] Erdogan renewed the treaty of 1926 in 2007. Maliki closed our bases in 2007. The latest statements of Maliki meet our interests,” he said. “But we do not look at these issues from a narrow partisan perspective. What is important for us is that Maliki accepts some democratic principles and Kurdish identity and freedom,” added Garib. Garib pointed to the differences between the PCDK and Maliki. “We are trying to change the Iraqi constitution in a democratic way. Maliki is trying to centralize the constitution even more. Maliki is trying to diminish the achievements of the Kurds,” he said.

Regarding the rumored meeting he had with an advisor of Maliki, Garib said, “We are a political party and Maliki is the prime minister of Iraq. I do not see meeting with him as being forbidden. But the meeting you described has not taken place. The PKK has its own reps in Iraq and we do not need to do that job for them.”

About cooperation between Maliki and the PKK, he said, “This is a premature speculation, but I do not believe relations between Maliki and PKK will reach military and logistical cooperation.”

The PCDK was founded in 2002 in the Qandil Mountains. It has been said that they have mediated between Turkey and PKK in the past. Garib acknowledged that between 2006 and 2007, they held meetings with some U.S. and international organizations in Erbil, Kirkuk and Baghdad and that these meetings took place with the knowledge of the Turkish government.  “Without mentioning their names, some organizations that are close to the U.S. and Turkey asked us to use our influence on the PKK to broker a ceasefire,” said Garib. “They initially requested that the PKK declare a ceasefire, initiate talks with Turkey and eventually lay down their weapons.”

In 2006, the PKK unilaterally announced a ceasefire that lasted until the spring of 2007. Garib believes that this was the result of the demands made by those international organizations. “When we conveyed the demands of those organizations to the Qandil Mountains, the PKK told us that those organizations had already expressed their demands via different channels. It seems that they tried different methods to ensure a result,” he said. When asked whether the PCDK was ever present at any of the meetings between the PKK and those organizations, Garib said, “No, but those organizations have met with the PKK.” Garib also attributed the failure of Oslo talks between Turkey and PKK to the “poisoning of Ocalan in Imrali prison in 2007 and the escalation of Turkey’s military campaign at that time.