Turkey Audio Feature: Kurdish Fighters Withdraw From Turkey To Iraq

LISTEN & WATCH PICTURES : Friday, May 17, 2013 | Joanna Paraszczuk in EA Middle East & Turkey, Middle East

EA’s Scott Lucas spoke with Monocle 24’s The Daily on Thursday night, discussing the implications for Ankara and beyond after the first group of militants from the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) withdrew from southeast Turkey and entered Iraq, at the behest of their leader, Abdullah Ocalan — who is serving a life sentence in Turkey — and as part of a peace plan aimed to end three decades of conflict.

Listen (from 08:23 – 16:22) here or on the Monocle Daily’s homepage.

Scott appeared on the show alongside Soli Özel, foreign editor at the Haberturk newspaper.

Among the main points raised were:

  • Asked whether the fact that so small a number of PKK fighters — just nine men and six women (there are around 3,000-4,000 PKK fighters in the mountains of northern Iraq and around 2,000 more in Turkey) — entered Iraq could just be a stalling tactic to increase pressure on Turkey, Scott noted that the peace plan is a step by step process, with talks between the Erdogan government and the PKK leadership going on for weeks.
  • While talks are progressing, there is caution on both sides, with questions remaining — including about whether the PKK will be allowed to retain its weapons retention and if so whether this will be supervised and by whom.
  • There are also wider questions about the political settlement, including rights for Kurds in Turkey, so at this stage it would be too optimistic to expect a mass withdrawal of PKK fighters.