According to intelligence reports done by the Office of the Chief of General Staff and the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), the leadership of the outlawed terrorist organization Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is in disarray and many renegade groups are acting on their own to stage attacks.
The assessment, explained to Today’s Zaman by a high-ranking Cabinet minister who had seen the reports, reveals that many terrorist attacks in southeastern Turkey carried out within the last two years were without the knowledge of PKK leadership. It was stated that even İmralı detainee Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the PKK, acknowledged the presence of renegade groups within the terrorist organization.
A terrorist attack that resulted in the deaths of two soldiers in the town of Ovacık in Tunceli province revealed the existence of renegade groups within the terrorist organization, which had extended its unilateral cease-fire until Oct. 31. The terrorist attack staged during the cease-fire proved that the faction known as the Dersim Group acted independently. Under orders from Duran Kalkan, one of the leaders of the PKK, the Dersim Group attacked a group of gendarmes who were conducting routine traffic checks in Reşadiye in Tokat province on Dec. 7, 2009, killing seven of them. Öcalan commented on the attack, saying, “I am unable to figure out what he is trying to do.”
Attacks manifest disarray within PKK
Surveillance, monitoring and wiretapping conducted by intelligence services concluded that the PKK has become impossible to control, resulting in an increase in the number of renegade and independent units within the organization. According to a report prepared by intelligence services and submitted to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, many of the terrorist attacks within the last two years were conducted without the consent of the leaders of the terrorist organization. It stressed that radical groups within the organization would organize attacks whenever the government attempted to make progress in the settlement of the Kurdish problem.
For example, a vicious attack was carried out by the PKK on the eve of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s meeting with Ahmet Türk, the leader of the now-defunct Democratic Society Party (DTP), who had been denied an appointment with the prime minister since 2007. The meeting was scheduled to take place on May 29 but was cancelled because of the attack two days earlier on a military outpost in the town of Çukurca in Hakkari province, killing seven soldiers. The PKK denied responsibility for the attack.
The terrorist attack on the Gediktepe outpost in the town of Şemdinli in Hakkari province on June 19 resulted in the deaths of nine soldiers. This attack was questioned within the organization itself because it halted the government contacts with PKK leader Öcalan as part of the Kurdish initiative.
As though all these attacks were not enough, a terrorist faction from the PKK organized another attack on Sept. 17 despite the cease-fire. They detonated a mine they planted on a village road in Hakkari with a remote control device, resulting in the deaths of 10 villagers. Once again the meeting between the government and the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), the successor of the DTP, was postponed due to this terrorist attack. As a result of the attack, Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Çiçek and Minister of Justice Sadullah Ergin met with Selahattin Demirtaş and Gülten Kışanak, co-chairmen of the BDP, after a two-day delay.
Murat Karayılan (C) said the PKK will end its cease-fire if the government steps up military operations against the armed group.
PKK leader warns cease-fire may end
The leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) warned on Tuesday it will end its cease-fire if the government steps up military operations against the armed group. In an interview with Britain’s Independent newspaper, terrorist leader Murat Karayılan was quoted as saying time was running out for the Turkish authorities to pursue a peaceful solution. “We will wait another 15 days,” Karayılan told the newspaper from his hideout in northern Iraq, where the group is mainly based. “If something positive develops, we will extend the unilateral cease-fire. If there are no concrete steps, we will evaluate developments and do what we have to do to defend ourselves.”
More than 40,000 people, mostly Kurds, have been killed since the PKK took up arms against Turkey in 1984 for an independent homeland. The terrorists say they now want greater rights and autonomy for Turkey’s estimated 15 million Kurds. On Aug. 13 the terrorist PKK declared a one-month, unilateral truce that it then extended for an indefinite period on Sept. 30. Despite the cease-fire, there have been fatal clashes between PKK terrorists and Turkish soldiers in southeastern Turkey.
Karayılan told the paper the Turkish government has used the cease-fire to “surround and destroy” the group. “If attacks are carried out, all the Kurdish people will be part of the defense strategy,” Karayılan said. “The issue is not between the Turkish state and the PKK. It is between the Turkish state and the Kurdish people.” The United States and the European Union, like Turkey, classify the PKK as a terrorist organization. İstanbul Today’s Zaman with Reuters
PKK-affiliated news agencies confirm that many of the terrorist attacks in the last two years were led by provincial group leaders without the approval of the central PKK leadership. Intelligence services pinpoint the Dersim Group as the most radical and violent group within the PKK. This group is led by Kalkan, Bozan Tekin and Mahir Atakan. There is also the presence of foreign recruits in this group as well as former members of militant organizations such as the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party (DHKPC) and the Liberation Army of Workers and Peasants in Turkey (TİKKO).”
Leadership struggle within PKK
Intelligence services conclude that the leadership structure of the organization is collapsing due to the polarization stemming from the government-launched democratization reforms that attempt to solve the decades-long Kurdish problem. Many of the PKK leaders, including Öcalan, support the viewpoint that the Kurdish question should be resolved through dialogue and that both sides should refrain from resorting to military means. Radical groups within the PKK, however, argue that views of the jailed leader of the PKK are shaped and influenced by the ideologies of the Turkish Republic and consider him to be the government’s puppet.
Cemil Bayık and Murat Karayılan lead the groups that support Öcalan’s views most passionately. About 1,700 Syrian terrorists who trained in camps in Iraq are led by Fehman Hüseyin, and his views clash with those of Karayılan and Bayık. Karayılan won the fight for leadership, forcing Hüseyin to head the armed group made up of Syrian terrorists in 2009. Later Nurettin Halef Al Muhammed, aka Sofi Nurettin, who is of Syrian descent, took over the position from Hüseyin, indicating that Hüseyin’s popularity in the organization is waning. The growing cooperation between Syria and Turkey on the PKK also made it difficult for groups of Syrian origin to operate within the PKK.
Bayık, Mustafa Karasu and Ali Haydar Kaytan form the trio that represents what is referred as the “Ankara team” within the organization. However intelligence sources have detected that Bayık and Hüseyin had been acting in concert.
Part of the reason why the leadership in the PKK is locked in a fierce battle is the growing number of civilian causalities inflicted by the terrorist attacks staged by the PKK. According to intelligence gathered by Turkish security agencies, there is no consensus within the organization on which civilian targets to attack. It is claimed that Hüseyin was dismissed from his post because attacks on civilian targets increased the terrorist organization’s disapproval among the public.
Intercepted communications dispatched by Karayılan to operatives in Turkey, Iran, Syria and Europe have revealed signs of deep tension within the organization. In one communiqué, Karayılan stressed that “those violating the organization’s decision for a de-escalation of violence, which was extended to Oct. 31, 2010, will be relieved and the act of forming independent factions will be punished in the severest manner.”
Zazas severed their ties with PKK
A simmering dispute erupted between Kurds and Zazas, a Kurdish group that lives primarily in Tunceli, Bingöl and Muş provinces but which is regarded as non-Kurdish by most Kurds because of their different dialect, according to intelligence reports. Many members of the PKK were dismissed from key positions within the organization because they were Zaza, and they were replaced by Kurdish-Alevi militants. It is estimated that there are about 300 Zaza people in the terrorist organization. Yusuf Turhallı, code-named Dr. Ali, was one of the leaders of the PKK removed from duty because of his Zaza ethnicity.
After 2007, Selim Çürükkaya, Sait Çürükkaya, Aysel Çürükkaya and Ömer Çürükkaya were declared outsiders by the organization under the pretext that they were of Zaza descent. Ömer Çükürkkaya was killed during a military operation in 1987 when he was the Tunceli representative of the organization. Sait Çürükkaya joined the PKK when he was a student in the medical faculty of Çukurova University. He criticized the policies of the organization after Öcalan was captured; therefore, he broke from organization and disappeared.