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Abbas Wali a Kurd from eastern Kurdistan and professor of political science and sociology. He is also expert in topics such as Kurdish nationalism and Kurdish political movements. He was asked to establish “University of Kurdistan” in Hewler in 2005 by Kurdistan regional government. He has been teaching in Social Science Department in Boğaziçi University for about four years. In this interview Imrali negotiations, potential disarmament of PKK and Kurdish situation  in region generally has been discussed.


Erdoğan, prime minister of Turkey says that “Imrali take expected steps” and it seems he means process of disarmament of PKK, what do you think of possible steps over a short time?

Erdoğan wants to mention his perspective, and this has related to the ability and effect of Ocalan – as the only address of negotiation on PKK. But in my opinion there is a point one should notice, the leadership of PKK in Qendil want to participate directly in negotiations and they have repeated this several times. Indeed Ocalan has his own influence on PKK and Qendil.

Could you make that clear?

Qendil wants to see practical steps, that is because they have responsibilities towards Gerilla and have to convince them. I am assured that Ocalan understands this.

What can convince Qendil?

There are different ways to disarmament.  A respectful disarmament is necessary to persuade them, if not the movement would be more radical.

Is the withdrawal of PKK beyond the Turkey’s border reasonable first step?

Yes, it is. But it is not enough to answer the demands. Maybe Ocalan asks PKK to withdraw forces beyond the borders of Turkey as they did in the past, while Ocalan was arrested but what happened then? Government did not take serious steps and Gerilla returned back again. That must not be happened again.

What can Ocalan do for this question? He must send a message! Ocalan seeks to continue negotiations and he wants government so show goodwill. After that disarmament can goes ahead, of course that is a complex stage.


I want you to understand me well. Disarmament is not a military process but that is political. Therefore, political bases must be arranged. For example which forces monitor the disarmament process? Under what conditions and to whom they give up their weapons?
what will happen to Gerilla after disarmament?

What do you think of immigration of forces (Gerilla) to other countries such as Australia?

PKK has not been fighting for more than twenty years to migrate to Australia. The question is that, why Australia? Even right now, if they want they can go there. They want to be part of peace process and actively participate in peace process.

Can Barzani play role as an observer in disarmament stage?

Barzani and an international institution can also monitor the process. In my opinion, it is easier for PKK to give up weapons to Barzani or another Kurdish leader, but the important point is that under what conditions the process goes on.

From Qendil?

Indeed, if all sides in Qendil will not be accepted suggestions and conditions offered by the government the movement would be more radical than it is. Turkish government must understand the power and effective role of Ocalan and must consider him seriously in the process.

What do you mean of considering Ocalan seriously?

Extreme expectations and pressure on Ocalan can have dangerous consequences. Turkish government must care about art of diplomacy in negotiations to keep leadership of PKK united, and then Ocalan can easily control them. Otherwise, there is a possibility of forming new groups inside PKK, which in this case it would be difficult to control them. Prime minister must account on Ocalan in such a position.

Does it mean to transfer Ocalan to a private house or keeping negotiation in different ways?

No, I mean informing Qendil on all steps. Qendil must indirectly participate in negotiations.

In your opinion, has government a right understanding of Ocalan?

Ocalan is a leader who has achieved a deep strategic and theoretical position in the movement. Implementations of his demands inside Turkey are easily possible, if government puts aside old-fashioned mentality. Look, today Ocalan is saying what he used to say fifteen years ago. I met him in Italy before being arrested, and we had talked around five hours. He believed clearly that Kurdish question cannot be solved by military means. He also defended his demands in a logical framework. He was worried about Turkey that does not pave the way for a peaceful solution. For many years, Ocalan has been looking for atmosphere and conditions, which exists today.

Does PKK recognize that?

PKK realizes Ocalan’s power. Contrary to what was expected Ocalan’s power has increased after he arrested.


Look, it was Turkey that has made Abdullah Ocalan an outstanding leader and a prophet. Turkish wrong policies made PKK to raise Ocalan. Before prison Ocalan was a political leader, but today he is a leader of a social movement. Kurds all over the world see him as a leader of social movement. It is possible to keep a political prisoner in prison, but keeping a social movement leader in prison is not possible. Because even if you keep him imprison, that social movement will continue to exist. It was a smarter policy if Turkish government had started negotiations in 1999.

What steps will satisfy Kurdish movement demands? For example, whether or not people forget “Democratic Confederalism” in the case of direct elections of province governors?

I do not think at this step a decentralized system will be enough, I think it will be incomplete solution. It needs some kind of autonomy like local independent parliaments in Wales or Scotland. A parliament, which has power in Ankara and would be able to effect policies related to Turkey. A system in which PKK leader and members in Qendil be able to take part.

Could you explain more?

Look, it is not possible to send those who have been fighting for Kurdish identity for many years to a different region than Kurdistan, and literally retire them.

In the case of achieving peace, they want to return to their home. Maybe what I am saying looks strange to you, In Britain those who was once called “terrorist” today shake hands with Queen.


How do Kurds in Eastern and Southern Kurdistan see the current negotiations?

Kurds in Eastern Kurdistan are happy with this but they are uncertain about Turkish government’s policies. There is a question behind their doubt: What factor or factors are driving the current policies of Turkey?

And their answer to the question?

They think Turkey wants to deal with Syrian crisis, because at the same time they are unable to fight on two fronts. Of course there is another interpretation: part of Turkey wants peace while others are against peace process. And this can make a major difference in the current process.

What are Kurds’ emotions on PKK in Eastern Kurdistan?

They support PKK that is what Turkish intellectuals do not understand. There is a good understanding of PKK among Kurds in Eastern, Southern and Western Kurdistan; PKK is not just a political party but it is a social movement. One can destroy a political party but it is impossible to destroy a social movement.

What are the differences between Kurds in Eastern, Southern and Western Kurdistan from political point of view?

The Kurdish geography has been divided and Kurds have been influenced by four different regimes; Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Kurds are used to respect their political and social struggle and demands inside those countries. Kurds in Southern and even Eastern Kurdistan can support Kurdish movement in Northern Kurdistan. But Barzani thinks about his own benefit in Southern Kurdistan. He does not do anything to put his situation in danger. There is a point about Kurds that is difficult to understand.

What is that point?

Kurdistan includes large parts of eastern Turkey, northern Iraq, western Iran, and eastern Syria. But what keeps Kurds united is not religion or a political party; it is Kurdish identity.

What do you mean by Kurdish identity? Willing of living with equal rights. For example, “being Kurd” is an identity for Kurds in eastern Kurdistan. “Language” is common point in northern Kurdistan, and “national identity” for Kurds in southern Kurdistan. Despite of others, Kurds in southern Kurdistan have not faced language problems. Therefore, we can say that there is no difference in political level rather than some basic principles.


Source: NNS ROJ
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