Demirtas himself is an outspoken critic of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Photo: Facebook
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, has asked Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani to back Kurdish autonomy in Syria and the PKK’s peace process with Ankara, the head of Turkey’s largest Kurdish party disclosed.
Selahattin Demirtas, the leader of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) that brokered the peace deal between Ocalan and Ankara last year, said the appeals come in a letter to Barzani.
“The letter asks Barzani to support the Kurds in Syria and the peace process in Turkey,” Demirtas told MPs from his party on Thursday.
Ties between the Kurdistan Region and the pro-PKK Democratic Union Party (PYD), which has declared unilateral autonomy in Syria’s Kurdish regions (Rojava), have been strained.
The PKK and Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) have also been traditional rivals. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Erbil has rejected the declaration of autonomy by the PYD.
Leyla Zana, a Kurdish MP from the city of Diyarbakir in the Turkish parliament, was tasked with hand-delivering the message to Barzani, leading to speculation about its importance and urgency.
“The letter also asks Barzani to criticize the slow progress of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the peace process,” Demirtas told the MPs. “We do not see any criticism from Barzani of the AKP. The Kurds in the north (Turkish Kurdistan) expect more support from Barzani,” he said.
Despite disagreements with the PKK over the situation in Rojava, Barzani has maintained good relations with Ankara and the PKK over their peace process.
Demirtas himself is an outspoken critic of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, accusing his AKP party of insincerity about the peace deal. Turkey’s Kurds have been disappointed at the slow pace of the negotiations and accuse Ankara of dragging its feet.
“The best way out of this stalemate is to democratize Turkey,” said Demirtas. “Leaders who face such a crisis either resort to democracy or rule by force,” he added. “The best solution is Ocalan’s initiative.”
Demirtas said that a recent corruption scandal, which has intensified the rivalry between Erdogan’s government and the powerful Gulen movement, is harmful to Turkey and the peace process.