Mar 13 2018

U.S. gave Öcalan and took control of PKK – Turkish ex-chief of staff

Former Turkish Chief of Staff İlker Başbuğ told Hürriyet’s Cansu Çamlıbel that the United States took over control of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) from Syria in 1999 after the arrest of its leader Abdullah Öcalan.

The PKK and its sister-organisations have been in a state of conflict with Turkey for most of the time since their emergence as an armed force in 1984.

“I will tell you this for the first time,” Başbuğ said. “Why did the U.S. surrender Abdullah Öcalan to Turkey in 1999?”

“At that time Öcalan was under the control and protection of (Syrian) intelligence. And you have got him out of Syria and presented him to Turkey. The organisation was distanced from Syrian control and came under America’s control.”

In his opinion, this was one of the main reasons why the United States gave Öcalan up to Turkey.

“After 1999 we see that the U.S. is giving more weight to a politically-weighted solution to the PKK problem. That’s a second reason. At some point if you put Öcalan in a prison in Turkey it becomes difficult to have a political solution to the PKK problem,” Başbuğ said.

The problem would not be solved after the defeat of the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria, Başbuğ said, because the United States would then use the PKK-allied People’s Protection Unites (YPG) against Syria and Iran.

It was a “natural right” for Turkey to buy its missile defence system from Russia if it chose, he added, and in no way would affect the NATO relationship.