Executions Designed To Derail Kurdish Peace Process

This morning I was pleasantly surprised to read a piece sent along by Tina, that pointed to a potential breakthrough in the decades long fighting between Kurdish seperatists and the Turkish government.

ANKARA: The Turkish government and jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan have agreed on a roadmap to end a three-decade-old insurgency that has claimed tens of thousands of lives, Turkish media reported Wednesday.

The deal was reached during a new round of talks between Ankara and Ocalan and aims to have the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) lay down arms in March, private news network NTV and Radikal newspaper reported.

An initial cessation of hostilities was to evolve into a fully-fledged ceasefire agreement over the following months, they said, without revealing their sources for the reported breakthrough.

Not to put too fine a point on it, such a peace deal would be a regional game changer, with the potential for knock-on effects into Iraq, Iran and Syria as well. I was just beginning to wrap my head around the possibilities – and then I saw news of the executions of three woman Kurdish activists in France. The three – including PKK founder member Sakine Cansiz – were shot in the head at close range sometime last night.

Someone in the Turkish corridors of power (possibly in the military heirarchy, they have most to lose from losing their war) or in the PKK’s anti-peace faction decided a provocation was needed.

Jonathan Rugman for the UK’s Channel Four News:

One PKK member has told me that Turkish “deep state” or “contra guerilla” intelligence operatives were responsible for the murders, in a deliberate attempt to scupper peace talks between the Turkish government and PKK, or at the very least to remind the PKK that its room for manoeuvre is limited and that it is being watched.

As an add on to this theory, it is possible that the Turks became so fed up with PKK activity in Europe that they decided to take the law into their own hands in France.

However, just as likely for now is the theory that  the women were killed as part of an internal PKK split, between those like Cansiz who supported the peace process and those who did not.

CNN’s Ivan Watson has a very good short run-down on the possible culprits and possible consequences.

I know Americans are likely to ignore this story, but they shouldn’t. This is a potential spark in a powderkeg, in a region which already has more than enough flashpoints. The downstream consequences could be widespread and include internal Kurdish faction fights that could spark war between Iraqi Kurds and the Iraqi central government or push Syria’s Kurds fully into either the regime or rebel’s camps at last, and more.

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Steve Hynd

Most recently I was Editor in Chief of The Agonist from Feb 2012 to Feb 2013. My blogging began at Newshoggers and I’ve had the immense pleasure of working with some great writers there and around the web ever since, including at Crooks & Liars. I'm a late 40′s, Scottish ex-pat, now married to a wonderful Texan, with Honours in Philosophy from Univ. of Stirling, UK 1986. I worked most of life in business insurance industry (fire, accident, liability) including 12 years as a broker/underwriter/correspondent at Lloyd’s of London. Being from the other side of the pond, my political interests tend to focus on how US foreign policy affects the rest of the planet. Other interests include early and dark-ages British history, literature and cognitive philosophy/science.

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  • Some time ago I mentioned it was in Turkey’s interest to make peace with one enemy so it could focus on the other one. However, other players in the field are, for reasons of their own, thwarting Turkey’s plan.

    It is clear that jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan is out of touch with the aspirations of his actively engaged Kurdish fellowmen

  • Experts call for restraint over Paris killings, not damage to peace talks

    The timing of the killing of three Kurdish women on Thursday is definitely related to the ongoing peace talks with the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), terrorism experts say, as they call on both parties to the talks to avoid any steps in the wake of such incidents that will place the negotiation process at risk.

    The bodies of three Kurdish women, Sakine Cansız, Fidan Doğan and Leyla Söylemez, were found at the Information Center of Kurdistan in Paris on Thursday. Cansız is known to have been among the few women who attended the founding congress of the PKK.

    The fact that the killings took place at a time when Turkey is having talks with the terrorist PKK organization to resolve the long-standing Kurdish problem has made everyone wonder if the murders of the Kurdish women was an attempt to sabotage the peace process.

    According to Professor Sedat Laçiner, an expert on terrorism, it does not matter by whom or for what reason the killings took place, their timing is of crucial importance.

    “These killings are like a response to the step taken by the government to resolve the Kurdish issue,” he told Today’s Zaman.

    Laçiner said Kurdish politicians, the PKK and government officials should remain committed to peace efforts, as such assassinations are very likely to be seen during the negotiation process.

    As for the possible mastermind of the killings, he said there is not sufficient evidence yet to comment, but that the killings might be either the result of an intra-PKK conflict or the work of international power circles.

    The PKK is known to have links with several countries and work for their interests.

    Professor Mehmet Özcan, who is also a terrorism expert, does not think the killings in Paris will derail the peace talks but he believes that they will have a certain influence on the peace-making process.

    Commenting on the possible architect of the murder of the three women, Özcan said it is known that there was tension between Bahoz Erdal, a senior PKK operative, and Cansız.

    “I don’t know what Cansız ‘s stance was regarding the peace talks but we know that Bahoz Erdal is a pro-violence figure. So, the murders might have been due to a disagreement over supporting the peace process,” he said.

    Özcan explained that it is possible to separate the PKK into three groups: the ideological PKK, the PKK which works to earn revenue through illegal activities and the PKK that is controlled by foreign intelligence services.

    He said the PKK groups involved in illegal activities and those controlled by foreign intelligence services do not support the negotiation process since a secure peace would be contrary to their interests.

    With regard to claims coming from some Kurdish groups suggesting that the killings might have been masterminded by the deep state, Özcan said he finds this possibility unlikely because all state bodies in Turkey support the peace talks and Turkey’s intelligence services do not even take action against top PKK operatives, so it is highly improbable that the deep state would kill the three Kurdish women. More here

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