TURKEY FIRST : PKK STRATEGY / PKK Wants to Liberate Parts of Turkey and Launch the Movement from There

RUDAW – 20.9.2012 – Muhammad Amin Penjweni is a founding member of the Kurdish National Congress in Belgium and a member of the Presidency Council of the Kurdistan Parliament in Exile, an organization founded by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). A few years ago, Penjweni returned to Kurdistan Region, though he is still an influential member of the PKK. Based on the recommendation of jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, he is often consulted by the group on issues pertaining to Iraqi Kurdistan.

Rudaw: Can we say the PKK is not influenced by Iran?

Muhammad Amin Penjweni: Iran influences the PKK because the PKK is based on the Iranian border. When you fight a party, you have to find a support from some other party. Just like the experience of Iraqi Kurdistan political parties and what they had to go through. Several times our fighters and people had to escape into Iran. The PKK now experiences a similar situation and has to make sure that it secures its backyard.

This is for this side with Kurdistan. As for the other side, it has imposed its economic and trade power on the area that is under the control of the KDP. Moreover, all the oil and trade contracts that are signed by the major companies in Kurdistan, such as ExxonMobil and other European and American cartels, will leave their impact on Kurdistan, whether we want them to or not. What’s needed from Kurdish politicians is cautiousness and playing their cards intelligently between these two groups. The KDP and PUK leadership have to be careful and avoid becoming a part of a Shia or Sunni project, the latter of which is represented by Turkey.

“The KDP and PUK leadership have to be careful and avoid becoming a part of a Shia or Sunni project, the latter of which is represented by Turkey.”

Rudaw: Because of the situation in Syria, there are some worries about a possible war between the KDP and PKK. Do you think that is possible?

Muhammad Amin Penjweni: Due to the fact that the PKK leadership has been based in Syria for the past 20 years, they have a large number of followers there. Hundreds, if not thousands of PKK cadres are Syrian Kurds. The PKK has about 3,000 martyrs from Syrian Kurdistan.

The Democratic Union Party (PYD) is a very active party in Syrian Kurdistan. Since the start of the uprising, the PYD’s cadres have gone back into the general population and started organizing them. They have formed councils in all areas, and the councils have formed a bigger council called the People’s Council. Now the People’s Council has formed another council with the Kurdistan National Council (KNC), each with five members.

The PYD has power there because Abdullah Ocalan was based in Syria for 20 years. I personally have visited the areas of Efrin, Qamishli, Darbasiya and Derek. This is the reality in Syrian Kurdistan, whether Turkey wants it or not. The freedom achieved there — whether by bravery, or the Syrian regime giving the areas up — is a development for the Kurdish question.

As for civil war, most Syrian Kurds, including the PYD, remember the civil war in Iraqi Kurdistan. They all refuse civil war. I can certainly say that the PYD will never want to fight and will compromise to avoid a civil war. The PYD has decided to comply with whatever the joint council decides.

Even with the issue of the flag, the council is planning to create a flag for all the Kurds of Syria. I do not see a problem in that regard. There are 20 Arab states, and each has its own flag. To me it is normal if the Syrian Kurds create their own flag and let the Supreme Council run their affairs.

If the situation is run this way, and we on this side — I mean the Kurdistan Regional leadership — avoid meddling in their affairs, then there will be no civil war.

Rudaw: Is there such meddling from the Kurdistan Region now?

Muhammad Amin Penjweni: Yes, both the KDP and PUK are meddling. However, this meddling is to help prevent a civil war. I hope the situation continues as it is so there will be no possibility of a civil war, because civil war means delaying the Kurdish liberation movement for several decades.

Turkey has now mobilized its forces and threatened to interfere in Syria. But I believe, due to many factors, that Turkey will not be able to militarily interfere in Syria now. The Kurds in Syria have formed a front; they can expand this front by forming alliances with the Christians, Druzes and Allavies that are residing in Kurdistan.

“I believe, due to many factors, that Turkey will not be able to militarily interfere in Syria now.”

Until now the Syrian opposition, which is a Muslim Brotherhood-type opposition, has not recognized Kurdish rights and they do not want to do anything for the Kurds in the future.

Rudaw: Why do you think the PKK has escalated its fight with Turkey in the recent weeks?

Muhammad Amin Penjweni: The PKK fight with Turkey has taken a new form. It has changed from a guerrilla fight to full frontal attacks. Turkey has preoccupied itself with some issues that have led to internal disagreements and people in Turkey consider their policies wrong.

As for the issues related to the PKK, they believe that it is time for the Kurds to liberate a part of Turkish Kurdistan and start their movement there. This is an idea that has been circulating among PKK members.

Rudaw: You have known Ocalan for a long time. What is your opinion on Ocalan’s thoughts? What does he think now?

Muhammad Amin Penjweni: When he was in Rome, just 10 days before he left Rome, I was with him. When we were talking, Ocalan showed a willingness to make some major changes in the PKK. He wanted to lead the PKK to become a civil party if Turkey agreed to solve the Kurdish problem.

Back then, the Italians were brokering, including then Prime Minister Massimo D’Alema, a member of the country’s leftist party. They promised to work with NATO to have Turkey to recognize the existence of Kurds and free the Kurdish language as well as issuing a general amnesty for PKK members.

Due to my long relationship with Mr. Ocalan, we sat for several hours. Then he left, and told me, ‘I do not know what’s going to happen to me. There are a lot of pressures on Italy. I have to leave Italy.’

Rudaw: After leaving Syria, Ocalan went to Russia, then Italy, then Greece and was finally arrested in Kenya. Where did he want to go from there?

Muhammad Amin Penjweni: Italy was pressured, and the PKK had very good relations with Greece. Greece said Mr. Ocalan could come there. However, the Greek foreign minister reached an agreement with the CIA. When Ocalan arrived in Greece, he had two options. One was sent by Nelson Mandela and the other by Gaddafi. They said that if he entered their countries, they would protect him. Ocalan chose Mandela.

However, there was no direct flight from Athens to South Africa. He was told that he could go to Nairobi, Kenya and stay in the Greek ambassador’s house for a few days. During his stay at the ambassador’s house, the plans to arrest him were made. That is because the Greek foreign minister was involved in the plans. In Nairobi, he was handed to the CIA and the Mossad. They handed him to Turkey.