PKK’s Karayılan warns of ‘great war’ if conflict does not end

12 April 2013 /TODAYSZAMAN.COM, İSTANBUL – Leader of the military wing of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Murat Karayılan has warned of a “great war” if the Kurdish conflict does not end, while saying he hopes to engage in politics in Turkey.Karayılan told the New York Times in an interview on Thursday that he hopes to return to Turkey to play a political role in advancing Kurdish rights if the conflict ends. “After we put violence aside, then a democratic society has to be formed,” Karayılan said.

Karayılan said if the “war does not end” he is ready to fight again. “If this does not happen, there will be a great war,” he added. Turkish authorities and jailed leader of the PKK, Abdullah Öcalan, have held a series of talks to end the decades-old conflict that has resulted in the deaths of at least 40,000 people. At least four groups of deputies from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) have visited İmrali Island, off the İstanbul coast, where Öcalan is staying, trying to work out the details of the settlement talks. On March 21, BDP deputies read out loud a letter by Öcalan calling on members of the PKK to leave the country as the first step of the solution process. However, PKK leadership and the Turkish authorities are at odds over the method of withdrawal, with the latter saying the terrorist group must lay down arms before leaving.

Karayılan earlier ruled out laying down arms, citing previous failed attempts at withdrawal. He reiterated his earlier demand, saying that the terrorists cannot give up their arms. “It is the last issue, something to discuss as a last issue to this process,” he said. “Our forces believe they can achieve results through war,” Karayılan said. He added that PKK terrorists and Kurds believe that the armed struggle helped them achieve “something they never would have without armed struggle: a recognition of Kurdish identity and more democratic rights.”

Karayılan later in the interview softened his tone and said, “We want to solve our problems through peace and dialogue,” adding, “That is what we believe.” But he noted that “If they [referring to the Turkish government] do not accept Kurds as equal citizens, this problem cannot be solved.”