Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaþar Büyükanýt on Saturday said that the two main Kurdish political parties in Iraq support about 3,000 separatists camped out along Iraq's border with Turkey.
Falah Bakýr, director of the office of foreign relations of the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq (KRG), denied the allegation. "The KRG or the political parties of Kurdistan are not providing support to the PKK," said Bakýr, as quoted by the Voice of America (VOA).
According to the VOA report, Kurdish officials in Iraq acknowledged that PKK is stationed along Iraq's northern border with Iran and Turkey, but they say the area has long been outside the control of any government.
Fuad Hussein, who is a spokesman for the president of Iraq's Autonomous Kurdish Region, Massoud Barzani, said, "The border area is a difficult, remote area. The Iranian government cannot control that border. The Iraqi government, even during Saddam, could not control that area. The Turkish government cannot control that area."
Turkey's military has long accused Iraqi Kurds of supporting the PKK, which has conducted a violent separatist campaign in Turkey since 1984 that has killed more than 30,000 people.
After the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, Turkey appealed to the United States to do more to crack down on the PKK inside Iraq. The United States considers the PKK a terrorist organization, and has said the majority of PKK members operate out of Kurdish regions of northern Iraq. But U.S. and Iraqi officials have insisted on diplomacy - not military force - to resolve the issue.
Referring to Büyükanýt's remarks, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül said, "Soldiers speak with weapons but before this point is reached politicians and diplomats have work to do." Gül also said there is no conflict between what he and Büyükanýt have said regarding the issue. The military becomes involved when politics do not work, he said adding, "That's why we are proud of our military and we want to have a strong army."
Falah Bakýr says Kurdish officials support negotiations, but he says Turkey's dispute with the PKK is ultimately a problem between the separatist rebels and the Turkish government. "The PKK is not an Iraqi issue," he said. "It is a Turkish issue, and we know the sensitivity of Turkey regarding that. We are not part of this problem."
Kurdish officials in Iraq insist that they are interested in improving relations with Turkey, and point to increasing economic ties with Turkish businesses.
Today's ZamanGüncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16