Karayılan: We do not want an intra-Kurdish war

In the second part of the interview on Stêrk TV, Murat Karayılan discusses the role of the KDP in the escalating clashes in South Kurdistan and warns against an intra-Kurdish war.

On Stêrk TV on Thursday evening, Murat Karayılan, the commander-in-chief of the HPG Central Headquarters and a member of the PKK Executive Committee, assessed the current situation in southern Kurdistan (northern Iraq). The second part of the interview is mainly about the developments between different Kurdish forces.

You have indicated that KDP forces want to enter the Metina region. Where are they currently located and what is their goal in doing so?

There is an area in Metina that divides the region in half. They have settled there in seven places. These are places in the direct vicinity of our forces. We have received messages to that effect today. They are 200 to 300 meters away from our forces. Of course, the friends asked what to do. We told them to wait and see what they do. It is a really delicate situation.

Does that mean they are setting up fortified positions there?

Of course, they build positions. They work with excavators, graders and so on. These positions are being built in the direction of our forces. We have also received information that they have made a deal with the Iraqi Government. We don't know at what level this deal was made, but they want to conduct an operation together with Iraqi forces against the Çarçela hill.

Is this hill under the control of the guerrillas?

Yes, the guerrillas have been there for years. The guerrillas are not backing down because of military force or threats. That is not our attitude. We want our people to know this. In any case, it is the natural right of the guerrillas to defend themselves when they are attacked. In this regard, it is a very sensitive issue. What good will it do the Kurdish people if a second front is opened against us? No one will benefit from this except the Turkish state. They are asking us now what we have to do here. We have been here for 40 years and they are asking this now? Why didn't they ask that before? Masoud Barzani also played a role in the 2013 ceasefire agreement. At that time, we withdrew to the south with everyone's knowledge and consent. And what did the Turkish state do then? It ended the peace process and tried to wipe us out through war.

They attacked us in the north, in the south and everywhere. There is a dialectic in Kurdistan. We didn't divide Kurdistan into four parts, the enemy did that. What areas did the peshmerga use when they fought in the 1960s and 1970s? Mostly the north. They used Çukurca, Şemdinli, Mount Cudi and many other areas. It is about this dialectic. We have been here for 40 years. Now it strikes them that they should be able to rule here and go everywhere freely. We accept that, okay, they are the dominant force here. We don't say anything about that. But it is currently already an extraordinary situation. Such military actions in such a situation do not serve the Kurdish cause. On the contrary, they lead to very dangerous consequences.

As I said before, we do not want Kurds to use weapons against each other. We think an intra-Kurdish war is a mistake. That cannot be in the interest of the Kurdish people. That is why we are telling them to stay a little further away from us in this current phase. These areas are important to us. The situation in Metina is very dangerous. There could be problematic consequences at any time because of the tensions. In this regard, I appeal above all to the KNK (Kurdistan National Congress). The KNK has made considerable efforts toward intra-Kurdish unity. In this regard, I would like to express my gratitude and congratulations to it. I appeal to all political parties in Kurdistan; the situation is serious. We do not want it to become a problem. At the moment, the KDP units are right next to our friends. Any moment there can be consequences that we, our people and our friends do not want. Therefore, I ask all parties and Kurdish forces not to be silent and to intervene in this issue.

They should say where the PKK is claimed to have attacked

I appeal to KDP, KNK, Gorran, Yek-Girtû, Komala, Zahmetkeşan and all other parties, intellectuals, artists and civil society organizations: They must be sensitive to the current situation and develop an attitude. Some areas may not be accessible, but Metina is open. There is a road there. They can come and see the situation. Let them decide for themselves who is right and who is wrong. We have never been against the regional government. But as I said, there is a dialectic in Kurdistan. At the moment, an extraordinary war is taking place. The enemy is attacking us with all their might. They must at least listen to their conscience a little bit. I appeal to all those who have a conscience. I appeal to all democratic and patriotic people and to those who do not want an intra-Kurdish war. It cannot go on like this. We are fighting against the enemy. We are fighting against the Turkish invasion. At such a stage, a war among Kurds cannot serve the people. But even though we say that, they claim "PKK has attacked". Where did the PKK attack? I appeal to everyone: there are still possibilities. It has not come to war yet.

At this stage, everyone should say "stop" to the current situation. Our party and Rêber Apo (Abdullah Öcalan) never wanted such a war. What does the Turkish state say? It says, "They are all tribes, they kill each other, they are not a nation." This view would be confirmed by an internal Kurdish war. However, we are in the 21st century and there are ways to deal with such a situation. You must come together, talk to each other and solve the problems. If we cannot come together, then there are mediators. We cannot have this situation. We are fighting against the Turkish state at the moment. We are confident and we are not afraid of the fight. We are only afraid of an intra-Kurdish war. I maintain that we will defeat this enemy. The 46 days of war so far are proof of this. The enemy cannot advance and take positions as it wants. He attacks everywhere with artillery and jets, but we have made the necessary preparations. We know its sensitive points and we have cornered it.

I get news from the hills where Turkish soldiers are. There is chaos there. We are fighting against such an enemy. Okay, the KDP does not support us, but it should not stand in our way or put itself in a position that creates new dangers. It has done nothing for decades, let it wait a little longer. When things settle down, then it can come and we can talk about whatever it wants. When the time comes and if we refuse, then it would be in the right. If it is not going to support us, then it should at least do that. I also appeal specifically to the people of Behdinan. They are an honorable population that has made sacrifices. We know that many villages are being evacuated and bombed. We are sad and angry about this. But this enemy wants to attack and destroy us. Think about what other atrocities such an enemy could possibly commit in Kurdistan. Therefore, the intellectuals of the Kurdish people should take the initiative in this situation and prevent an intra-Kurdish conflict.

KDP Politburo Secretary Fazil Mirani has insulted the PKK as a "hired organization". What do you have to say about this insult?

The KDP believes that people in Duhok believe everything it tells them, but the people there are intellectual, they read, research and follow social media. You cannot make the people there agree with these words. Who is supposed to have "hired" the PKK? Iran? Iran is killing our comrades every day. Two weeks ago, four comrades were killed in Selmas. The repression against us continues. The Turkish state, as the biggest occupying power, is constantly attacking us. Or do they mean Iraq? Then how can it be that they are conducting a joint operation with Iraq. Then who should have hired us? When you say a word, you should know what it means.  

We sacrifice ourselves for this country. We have no home, no property, no family like them. We have tied our lives to this people. I and all my comrades have left behind everything material. We take it all upon ourselves for the future of this people. We are independent. No one has the right to say such things. But I believe that all our people and especially the people of Behdinan know very well what the truth is, who this person is and who we are. It is known how we live. Some say, ‘They are against the Kurds’. And how can that be? This struggle has given will and strength to the Kurdish people. We fight for the existence of the Kurdish people. We talk about peace to the enemy, but no peace comes, we say they should stop, but they don't stop. They say, "We will kill you. Wherever you go, we will come after you’. We are resisting this. Anyone who has a conscience and dignity and wants democracy can only call this assertion ‘mercilessness’.

The Turkish state is attacking massively, destroying villages, burning forests, but they don't say a word about these attacks. It is enough with how they are washing the Turkish state clean. This state is a dirty regime and an enemy of the Kurdish people. In Turkey, this government has forged an alliance against the Kurdish people. They can only unite under the paradigm of hostility to the Kurds. There is a very dangerous aspect to this statement. It looks like they have decided to go to war. I appeal to them and say this is the wrong decision. Currently, there is a media agitation against the PKK in the south, asking where the PKK came from and asserting that the PKK is a burden for the south.

"We did not bring the war to the South, the enemy came here"

Even before the PKK, the Turkish state refused to recognize the South. The Algiers Agreement was not concluded between two states alone. The Turkish state was also behind the scenes and intervened at the time. There are documents to this effect. They legitimize the Turkish state and accuse the PKK of destroying everything and bringing war to the South. We did not bring the war to the South, the enemy came here. He is fighting against us in Dersim, Amed and Botan, everywhere in the North, but it does not stop there and come to the South. It has decided to go against the Kurds everywhere.

Shame on the people who think, ‘The Turkish state is attacking the PKK, the PKK is weakened, so let's shoot it in the back and liquidate it’. The PKK is not going to disappear. The PKK is an ideological movement, it was founded with the blood of Kurdish young people. Millions of people sympathize with the PKK. Does he (Fazil Mirani) think that the Kurdish people would forgive him such an insult?

On the other hand, if the PKK were to disappear or be hit hard, then the PUK would be next in line, and finally the KDP. No one should be mistaken. The PKK is being attacked because it protects the identity of the Kurdish people. It is said ‘We did not destroy the Kurdish identity in Turkey and Abdullah Öcalan appeared. As a result, everyone rose up, so he is to blame for everything’. And for that, Rêber Apo is being tortured. Everyone knows that we came here under an agreement and we have been here for 40 years. In 1995, we had an agreement that said the PKK's areas are Heftanin, Zap and Xakurke. In 2013, we withdrew to these areas with permission. Moreover, the PKK does not come from Africa.

The PKK was in Behdinan during the 1991 uprising in the Begova and Batufa areas, where the first bullet was fired against the Saddam regime. The government representative of that time can confirm that. We did not only defend Kirkuk, Maxmur and Shengal against ISIS. This happened before. The PKK is also Kurdish. It is right when they (the KDP) say, ‘We are responsible here’, and they are. But there are some mountains where the PKK has been present for 40 years. If they want to come, let them do it, but for what? It is as if they control all of Kurdistan and all that is left are these mountains. There is no such thing. That is why we think this issue is important. We are trying to stop this war. They must stop defaming the PKK. It is not in their interest to blackmail the PKK, to portray the PKK as mercenaries and to fight them. This is also dangerous for the future of the KDP. They must give up this policy.

The HPG recently issued a call for a delegation to investigate the incident in Metina. It is claimed that the peshmergas were murdered by the PKK. Is this claim true or not? What happened there?

According to the official reports of our forces on the ground and the images, the incident is described as follows: A platoon of these forces (the KDP) moves in this direction from Kani Masi, a platoon from Amadiya. Our friends fire warning shots to stop them. But they do not stop and continue. Then a vehicle explodes. We looked at it and investigated the incident. Our forces did not use any weapon that could destroy such an armored vehicle and kill those. Our friends there were surprised themselves how it happened. At the same time, five or six reconnaissance planes were in the air. We did not attack this vehicle. Now it is said that the PKK admitted to firing. Yes, we fired warning shots, but with individual firearms. We are not talking about weapons that destroy and penetrate armored vehicles. It looks like a missile was used against these forces.

To this end, we have called for the formation of a delegation from both sides or an independent delegation to come to this region for a technical investigation. We did not attack those people. We suspect that the attack was a planned provocation. We want this to be investigated. There is no need to deny it. Above all, for the people who lost their lives in this incident, the event must also be clarified. These are innocent people. We noticed that most of them did not know where to go. Of course, these people who lost their lives are innocent and should be considered as martyrs. My condolences go out to their families and relatives and I wish the wounded a speedy recovery. We were deeply saddened by the incident. It was not what anyone wanted. We do not want a war between Kurdish forces. But that is what happened in this case. That is why we want it to be investigated.

Media close to KDP first reported that the vehicle had been attacked from an airplane. Then we said, ‘Right, warning shots were fired, but there was also such an incident’. Then they immediately changed the version and claimed that the PKK had attacked. This is an injustice to the PKK. The public and the people of South Kurdistan should really be aware of this. Our way of life and our position are clear. We live as Kurds and we are there for the Kurds. We want the incident to be clarified. We are ready to do whatever is necessary for that. We want to know if this vehicle exploded or was attacked from the air. But it looks like there was an air attack. That is why the case has to be clarified.

In conclusion, is there anything you would like to say?

This phase is a very important stage in the struggle of our people. It is a matter of to be or not to be. Everyone should be aware of this. The Turkish state has decided to carry out a genocide against the Kurdish people. This is the concept of the enemy. It is not a problem between parties. We have to solve the problems between parties in the face of the great danger. Turkish fascism puts the existence and future of the Kurdish people in great danger. The Turkish state wants to completely destroy all the achievements of the Kurdish people. I think it is important to create a common basis now. Even if national unity is not achieved, we must never harm each other. We think this is very important.

I am not saying that we are perfect. We can also have shortcomings. I also have some criticism that our friends often don't quite live up to what they are talking about or that they do it too late. Also, we can't answer some things outrightly. We are not saying that we are perfect, but we are pursuing a strategy to liberate the Kurdish people. Anyone who has criticism of us can voice it, but it is unacceptable to fight against us. In this context, I would like to emphasize once again that all Kurds in the north, south, west and east are sensitively following this process in our country and in Kurdish politics and are taking a stand. Let them voice their criticism. We want the Kurds to be a force in the region. The Kurdish people have the right to live freely in this country. The Turkish state wants to destroy this right.

But we want to fight against the attacks of the Turkish state and win at any cost. If we break the fascist wave of the Turkish state, not only Kurdistan but also Turkey will be freed from the clutches of these fascists. When that happens, the current threat to the Arab, Syriac, Syrian people and everyone else in the region will be eliminated. We are proud of the ongoing resistance to the Turkish occupation.

Whatever is done to this end is meaningful. We are determined and will win this struggle for the Kurdish people and all pro-democracy forces. This is our hope and our conviction.

Of course, we ask for everyone's support in this matter. We want everyone to stand up for the creation of unity and togetherness in this national matter. But whoever does injustice, the Kurdish people must oppose him. In this historic phase, we will lead the cause of the Kurdish people to success. Even though we are experiencing hostile attacks and problems at the moment, we also have the opportunity to succeed. We believe that the future belongs to Kurdistan.