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US offers millions in bounty for PKK leaders

By Rudaw 6/11/2018
Left to right: Duran Kalkan, Murat Karayilan, and Cemil Bayik.
Left to right: Duran Kalkan, Murat Karayilan, and Cemil Bayik.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The United States announced cash rewards for information on three senior PKK leaders. 

“The Department [of State] has authorized rewards for information leading to the identification or location of the senior PKK members: Murat Karayilan (up to USD $5 million), Cemil Bayik (up to USD $4 million), and Duran Kalkan (up to USD $3 million),” US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Palmer announced in a statement published by the US embassy in Turkey on Tuesday. 

Palmer made the announcement after two days of meetings in Turkey with government officials in which they “exchanged views on issues of mutual interest and concern.”

“The United States values its counterterrorism cooperation with our NATO Ally Turkey,” he added. 

Washington and Ankara are at loggerheads over US support for Kurdish forces in northern Syria where the YPG and YPJ are key allies in the war against ISIS. Turkey considers the YPG and YPJ branches of the PKK and has condemned what it calls US support for a terror group. The US insists the Kurdish forces in northern Syria are distinct from the PKK. 

Turkey has welcomed the US move "with caution."

Ibrahim Kalin, spokesperson for Turkish presidency, said in an interview with Haberturk TV that it comes "late."

"It does not change Turkish policy on east of the Euphrates," he added. 

Turkey has shelled Kurdish villages east of the Euphrates River over the past week and threatened a full scale military offensive against the region.

Murat Karayilan, 64, is a top military commander within the PKK as head of the People’s Defence Forces (HPG). 

Cemil Bayik, 63, is a senior member of the KCK executive council. 

Duran Kalkan, 64, is co-chair of the KCK executive council. 

The KCK is the Kurdistan Communities Group, the political umbrella group of the PKK. 

All three are on Turkey’s Red List, also called the country’s “terror” list. 

The US said that the PKK “expanded attacks across Turkey” in 2015 and 2016. It highlighted two incidents: an August 2016 car bombing of Sirnak police headquarters that killed 11 and a June 2017 attack on a military convoy in southeastern Turkey that killed more than 20 soldiers. 

“Since 2015, the group has been responsible for the deaths of over 1,200 Turkish security officials and civilians,” the US stated.

The PKK was founded in 1978. Its founder, Abdullah Ocalan, was arrested in 1999 and is being held in the island prison of Imrali. 

In 2015, conflict between the PKK and the Turkish state entered “one of its deadliest chapters in more than three decades,” according to the International Crisis Group (ICG) that is tracking casualties in the conflict. 

Since July 20, 2015, at least 4,190 people – fighters on both sides and civilians – have been killed, according to their figures. 

Those numbers include 1,129 state security forces, 2,374 PKK fighters, 223 youth of unknown affiliation who cannot be identified as either PKK or civilians, and 464 civilians. 

The renewed conflict brought the war into urban settings, with the Turkish military imposing curfews on Kurdish towns and cities. The security forces are accused of horrific atrocities like burning civilians in basements and denying access to healthcare. 

The United Nations at the time described Turkey’s military activity “extremely alarming.”

The PKK has been on the US terror list since 1997. 

Updated at 9:50 pm


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Azad | 6/11/2018
Looks like PKK's gamble is not paying off. PKK has sacrificed thousands of poor kurdish youth and killed tens of thousands of civilians fighting ISIS on behalf of America in rushed operations with no precautions to protect their own fighters or the civilians. Ofcourse they didn't have to do this. The only reason they need protection from Turkey is because they insist on their PKK ideology. If SDF or whatever they call themselves had acted reasonable from beginning they would've behaved like KRG. Instead they insist on using PKK symbols, flags and putting portraits of Ocalan everywhere KNOWING this will only create problems for them. I don't know what they were thinking. It's like when ISIS were digging their own grave and saying it's okay because god will protect them. Did PKK think Ocalan would protect them from the consequences of PKK's disastrous policies? Ofcourse PKK supporters won't accept any blaim if all kurdish areas fall in Syria. They were all brainwashed to never question their leaders and it's even banned to do so in PKK areas. First Afrin lost because of PKK and now all other kurdish areas will be lost either to Turkey or Assad.
The Times | 6/11/2018
Almost all the victims were Kurdish, but only few were Turkish. Indeed the war with the PKK is an instrument in the bloody hands of Turkey to launche its genoicide war on Kurds. This genocide war only benefits Turkey. It must stop.
TrieuDa | 6/11/2018
FAUthman | 6/11/2018
YPG is not on US terror list but PKK is. YPG is a US ally, PKK is not. Therefore to keep Turkey away from harassing northeast Syria, a territory US controls, US is giving Turkey a clear indication that it is not working with a group that US has classified as terrorist, makes sense. YPG, as Turkey attempts to portray in the media, should not mixed with the PKK. This is not a US betrayal, not by a long shot, it is logical and may be a necessary move by the US considering recent developments along the border .
Renas | 6/11/2018
Good. I hope they can catch all three and send them to Guantánamo. These people have only caused harm to our people, they don’t care about Kurds or Kurdistan. These guys and their leaders have committed worst crimes against Kurdish people. They are controled by MIT. I hope this is the beginning of the end for PKK.
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