South Kurdistan : A Step Closer to a Kurdish National Conference

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region –  RUDAW – 6.6.2013 – A National Kurdish Conference, gathering all Kurdish groups to discuss a common strategy in light of momentous developments in Turkey and elsewhere, has come a step closer following discussions between key leaders.The meeting was discussed last month between Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani and Murat Karayilan, the top commander of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), officials said.

“They met last month and they discussed organizing a National Kurdish Conference,” said PKK spokesman, Ahmed Deniz. “We have conveyed our thoughts about the platform and the national conference and received the views of the other side as well,” he added. For long, Barzani has been arguing for the need for such a conference. With regional developments impacting the Kurdish issue in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran – the four countries where the Kurds are spread – officials say there is growing consensus for a meeting to coordinate strategy.

Barzani, whose Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) is the major partner inside the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq, has stressed on the importance of building a foundation for coordinated policies on regional Kurdish issues. “We have asked all the Kurdish political parties to expedite holding the conference. We will do all we can to make the conference a success,” said Mehmet Ali Aydin, representative of Turkey’s Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) in Erbil. He said that PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, who has been negotiating an unfolding peace process with Ankara from his jail cell on Turkey’s Imrali island, was “very eager for this conference to happen, and Barzani has made serious attempts to make it happen.”

 “The conditions in the region were not good before, but now the time is ripe,” said Ahmed Kani of the KDP.

Saadi Ahmed Pira, a leadership member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), agreed about the timing. “We have talked with Turkey and Iran about this conference and they showed their consent,” he told Rudaw.He mentioned that the PUK and KDP had agreed on the national conference two years ago, and that youth and women’s conferences in which groups from all Kurdish regions had participated, had served as pilot programs for the national conference.

Officials say that Kurdish political parties in Iran and Syria are positively looking at this conference and believe it would be the catalyst for solving many issues.

“Now, the situation of the Kurds is better than at any time before. We need to think about the unity of Kurds in all the parts of Kurdistan which will positively impact the Kurds in east (Iranian) Kurdistan,” said Muhammad Salih Qadiri, a member of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI). All Kurdish groups stress on the need for this conference, but so far no practical steps have been taken yet to make it happen.  Pilot youth conferences held in the past failed to resolve divisions and attract all key Kurdish groups.