The chancellor of intelligence services of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq, Masrour Barzani said the outlawed PKK must leave the Qandil Mountain where the militant group has long been located itself since the wake of First Gulf War.
Barzani spoke to Amberin Zaman from Al Monitor news site on July 2 and said the PKK must leave the Qandil Mountain, which he regards as an Iraqi territory, for the sake of ongoing Kurdish peace process in Turkey.
Asked about the PKK’s long presence in the Qandil Mountains, Barzani responded that the outlawed group must go out of the KRG soils since a peace process is already settled between Ankara and the Kurds inside Turkey.
“This is Iraqi territory and they must leave. And this is one of the reasons why we are so eager to see the Kurdish peace process inside Turkey succeed. We hope this problem will be resolved peacefully,” said Barzani, the eldest son of Massoud Barzani, the KRG president and leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).
Barzani reiterated the KRG’s official position considering the group’s presence in northern Iraq and said the PKK has no role to play to define the future of Kurds in the KRG areas like Sinjar and that warned the militants not to interfere in the internal affairs of the Iraqi Kurdistan.
“Like I said, the PKK has no role to play. They should pull out and they must because the people of Sinjar will determine their own future and this is Iraqi Kurdistan. Would the PKK be happy if a Kurdish political party inside Iraq meddled in the affairs of Diyarbakir or Mardin?” Barzani said.
“But there are parties inside the Kurdish community within Turkey that definitely should be allowed to play a role. We believe in a multiparty system. PYD-PKK elements must pull out when the situation gets back to normal,” he added.
The KRG government led-by Massoud Barzani has been backing Turkey’s resolution process that aimed a comprehensive reconciliation with the PKK in order to provide resolution for the country’s decades old terror problem.
Turkey’s first popularly-elected President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took an initiative in 2012 and opened up the peace talk process with the PKK, but the process has temporarily stalled over the militant group's reluctance to give up arms despite its imprisoned leader Abdullah Ocalan called the group to do so.
The KRG’s essential support has been sourcing from both its flourishing relations with Ankara and the PKK’s political-military challenge to its de facto hegemony in the northern Iraq where Barzani’s KDP has established a semi-autonomous regional government based in Erbil.
Ankara and Erbil have increased their security and energy cooperation as well as foreign economic trade that boomed in the recent years following the US withdrawal from Iraq in 2011.
Turkey and the KRG government agreed on selling of the Iraqi oil through a pipeline en route to the Mediterranean port city of Ceyhan in Turkey in late 2013 which constituted a cornerstone in the bilateral relations.
The KRG’s Peshmerga forces have also borne the brunt of the war against ISIS after Iraqi armed forces retreated from the country’s north last June, allowing the militants to deeply embed themselves across large swaths of land.
Turkey allowed the KRG’s Peshmerga to use its soil to traverse into Syria’s border town of Kobane early this year in order to eradicate the militant offensive over the Kurdish-populated town.
However, the recent developments in Syria’s northern areas on the Turkish border raised Ankara’s concerns over both the advancement of ISIS and the Syrian-Kurdish People’s Defense Units (YPG)’s attempts at establishing a “Kurdish corridor” alongside the border.
The YPG is the armed wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the Syrian affiliate of the PKK, which is believed to have caused the death of nearly 40,000 people in its struggle with Turkey since the early 1980s.
President Erdogan has several times reiterated that Ankara would never allow the formation of a Kurdish state along with its southern borders with Syria.
"We will never allow the establishment of a state in Syria's north and our south. We will continue our fight in this regard no matter what it costs," Erdogan said during an iftar (fast breaking dinner) last month.
"They want to complete the operation to change the demographic structure of the region. We will not turn a blind eye to this," he added.
Since ISIS has increased its military pressure towards the north, Turkey has been facing with a massive migrant inflow of Syrian and Iraqi refugees from Tal Abyad, Kobane and nearby places.
The ISIS and YPG militants have been fiercely fighting over the control of both Kobane and Tal Abyad, where the local people were either forced to flee or fearfully dislocated themselves towards the Turkish soils.