In an exclusive interview with Medya News, Zübeyir Aydar, a member of the executive committee of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), shared insights regarding recent diplomatic discussions led by Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan with the Iraqi government and Kurdistan Region officials.
Aydar, a prominent lawyer and politician, is a founding member of the Democracy Party (DEP), one of the earliest pro-Kurdish parties in Turkey. He also served as a former member of parliament. In 1994, after the removal of parliamentary immunity for several DEP members that led to their imprisonment, Aydar left for Europe. He played a pivotal role in the establishment of the Exiled Kurdish Parliament (PKDW) in 1995 and the Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) in 1999, both formed in Europe.
Currently serving on both the KNK and KCK executive councils, Zübeyir Aydar participated in the historic peace negotiations representing the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) during the first-ever face-to-face talks aimed at resolving the Kurdish issue in Turkey. These negotiations, known as the Oslo talks, commenced in 2007 but gained significant public attention in 2011 when an audio recording was leaked. Notably, Hakan Fidan was also part of the Turkish government delegation during the Oslo talks.
A mission to Iraq and Southern Kurdistan
Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan visited Baghdad and Erbil (Hewlêr) this week and held high-level meetings. These meetings covered many topics such as oil sales, the new Silk Road project and Iraq’s drought problem. In this context, Fidan met with various groups in Baghdad, including government officials, Shia organisations and Iraqi Turkmen representatives. Fidan also called on Iraq to declare the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) a terrorist organisation.
He then travelled to Erbil, where he was enthusiastically received by officials from the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). The main topic of these meetings was the PKK. Furthermore, during his meetings with the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government on Thursday, four civilians were killed in drone attacks carried out by Turkey within the borders of the Kurdistan Region.
So, how do you evaluate these meetings?
Fidan’s visit to Iraq is undoubtedly multifaceted. However, the fundamental issue was the PKK, the issue of the suppression of the Kurdistan Freedom Movement.
While water and oil may be the key issues for Iraq, the main issue for Turkey is to get the support of all segments in Iraq, all segments in Kurdistan, to take a stance against the Kurdistan Freedom Movement and ideally to join the war that Turkey is waging against the Movement. This is the core purpose of Hakan Fidan’s visit to Iraq. In fact, Hakan Fidan’s visit can be better described as a mission to Iraq and Southern Kurdistan.
As you know, there are four states on the Kurdish territory, each of which has taken a part of Kurdistan. Of these four states, Iraq is the only one that recognises the Kurdish question, that has a certain consensus with the Kurds and that gives a federal status to Kurdistan in its constitution. The others follow a policy of denial and destruction.
Now Turkey is saying to Iraq: “Consider the Kurds as terrorists”. This means in fact: “Step back from all Kurdish gains, declare the PKK as terrorists, then carry out operations against the PKK together with us and gradually eliminate the other Kurds”. This is basically a demand for Iraq to return to the era of Saddam.
The situation inside the Turkish government, especially after the “collapse plan” of 2014 and the all-out attacks started on 24 July 2015, Hakan Fidan has been one of the most important figures, one of the architects of this process. Hakan Fidan’s visit is particularly related to this. The collapse plan of the Turkish government continues and they want to conclude it with Iraq.
Red carpet welcome for the aggressor
After the elections in May 2023, with the new government, Turkey seems to be trying to institutionalise the policies it has been pursuing for the last five or six years. On the one hand, there is a foreign policy strategy that aims at leadership in Muslim countries, and on the other hand, there is a concept of aggression by all means. From Fidan’s recent meetings, it seems that the KDP also supports Turkey in this matter. What is your opinion? As a member of the KCK Executive Council, what would you call on the KDP to do?
As you can see, Hakan Fidan uses very careful language in his speeches. He avoids using the term ‘Kurdistan’ and refers to ‘Erbil’ when talking about the Kurdistan Regional Government.
After his meeting with Barzani, Hakan Fidan openly thanked the KDP for its support in the fight against what he called “terror”.
Everyone should reflect on why an opponent of the Kurds, who does not use the term ‘Kurdistan’, would thank the KDP for its support.
Ongoing conflicts cause deaths every day. Kurds are killed every day. While Hakan Fidan was talking to KDP officials, drone attacks took place in three different places. Attacks on civilians and civilian vehicles are taking place both in this region and in other areas, resulting in loss of life. There is also a difficult struggle going on in the Zap and Metina areas, where attacks are still taking place. In such an environment, the foreign minister of the aggressor country visits the region where these attacks are taking place and is not criticised. There is not even a cry like “Why are you bombing areas with civilians? Why are you killing our people?” On the contrary, he is warmly welcomed. This situation is really shameful for the Kurds.
In short, to welcome one of the most important actors in the bloody process of the last eight years, who has a role in the death of thousands of people and who has planned many assassinations, with a red carpet in the capital of South Kurdistan, Hewler, is indeed a thought-provoking and gloomy situation for the KDP. The current situation within the KDP is really worrying and disheartening. Such a harmonious attitude towards the enemy is a clear example of betrayal.
The KDP supports Turkey in every way. There is a big conflict in Zap. The guerrillas are putting up a great resistance on the mountains. Turkey cannot intervene there at will. The KDP opens the way to this region, supporting Turkey’s activities. The KDP says to the Turkish forces: “Come to these areas, I’ll open the way for you, go and carry what we can’t, use our vehicles. What you can’t transport by air, take it by land and destroy them”.
In these areas the guerrillas have to hide even to get bread, but the KDP gives Turkey these opportunities, opens the way and offers all kinds of support. This kind of approach is, at the very least, treacherous. The KDP’s attitude will eventually backfire on them. They must abandon this approach as soon as possible.
In fact, both Hakan Fidan’s talks in Baghdad and his talks with the Sulaymaniyah administration are attempts to align them with the KDP’s stance. It’s obvious that the KDP is supporting Turkey in this matter and it seems that they are proposing water and oil deals in return for others joining them. The matter should be assessed in this context.
The cost of war
Turkey allegedly uses banned weapons in its attacks on Kurdish fighters. We know that a major war is taking place, particularly in the Zap and Metina regions within Iraqi Kurdistan’s borders. What is the cost of this war for Turkey and for the Kurdish people? Where do you think this war will end up?
Indeed, there is an ongoing war in the Zap region, and Turkey is using some of the world’s most advanced weapons in this war. These weapons include highly effective and banned ones as well, it seems. I’m not a weapons expert, but this situation is evident. Some of the weapons used are of prohibited kinds. Moreover, there are documents and reports about how chemical weapons are used in tunnels. Actions are taking place globally about this matter. Additionally, there are reports about the use of nuclear-tipped bombs. Footage and images show smoke rising from all over the mountain and even underground when a bomb is dropped. This is not an ordinary bomb. This demonstrates the use of banned weapons. And the world is staying silent about this. Everyone should take a stance and not remain quiet about this.
Of course, this war has economic consequences as well. In 2015, when the war resumed, Turkey was economically stable. Its economy had improved during the resolution process, and there was no war. However, its economic situation has deteriorated now. The country has dropped from the 16th to the 21st place in the world economy rankings. Inflation, which used to be single-digit, is now over 100 percent. People were economically more comfortable once, but now millions are struggling with hunger. There is a significant economic collapse. The main reason for this is the ongoing war in Kurdistan. If you invest in war and arms for over eight years and spend massive amounts on it, it creates a huge burden economically and consumes significant resources. Additionally, this war creates massive destruction in Kurdistan as well. Due to the destruction it causes and the resources it consumes, the war is hitting the economy hard.
However, they still want to continue the war. Their message indicates their determination to proceed down this path. Nevertheless, this approach won’t yield results.
The war has entered its 40th year now. The 39th year just concluded 10 days ago. Every year, Turkey makes statements claiming it will “end this matter.” Usually, they set deadlines until spring or specific dates. However, as we’ve seen before, these goals are not achievable.
No matter how much effort Turkey exerts, it’s difficult to achieve results in this situation. Yes, there are costs and the society pays the price as well. However, the potential for resistance among the Kurdish people is very high, and resistance will continue at all levels. No matter how long it takes, this people will continue their struggle until they achieve liberation.
Is a political solution still possible amidst conflict?
There was a peace process you were involved in, called the Oslo negotiations, aimed at ending the Kurdish conflict in Turkey. For the first time, direct face-to-face meetings took place between the PKK and the Turkish state.
Looking back over nearly 10 years, including the period between 2013 and 2015 as part of the resolution process alongside the Oslo talks, do you believe that Turkey has a chance of resolving this issue without a political solution? Is there a chance of achieving Turkey’s desired success without returning to peace talks and while the heavy isolation of Abdullah Öcalan persists? And do you have a call for the resumption of peace talks?
In the past, there have been attempts at finding a solution, such as the Oslo talks that took place between 2007 and 2011, which were inconclusive. The Turkish delegation, including Hakan Fidan, never came to these discussions with a genuine solution proposal. The purpose of these processes was to buy time for them. The İmralı resolution process between 2013 and 2015 followed a similar pattern.
In other words, the Turkish side’s intention was never to find a real solution; it was more about buying time and deceiving. This has led to the current issue growing even larger. It’s hard to predict if such a process will be repeated again. The Turkish government has been waging war for over eight years since making a decision in 2014. They aim to overcome the Kurdish question through this war and a plan to suppress the Kurds. So, currently, such a negotiation process seems unlikely. Abdullah Öcalan’s heavy isolation also serves as an indicator of this.
We perceive the situation in this way. We plan accordingly and expand our struggle. However, as the Kurdish side, we always believe that the problem can be resolved through dialogue.
Turkey is the party obstructing a solution that can be achieved through dialogue. In this regard, there has been no change in the Turkish side’s stance. At present, Turkey may appear stronger with weapons and technical capabilities, and it might think that it can weaken the Kurds. With the world’s focus on the Ukraine-Russia war, it may believe that it won’t face pressure for more attacks on the Kurds using banned weapons. However, that’s not the reality.
Because over half a century of struggle has produced significant results in Kurdistan. More than 50 years of ongoing Kurdish freedom struggle has created a strong identity and a resilient nation. This is not just about a party; it’s about a freedom movement. This is the struggle for the freedom of the people, and they will continue this struggle. No matter how powerful Turkey may appear, no matter how much it attacks, the Kurdish side will defend itself on all levels. New paths will be found, and Turkey won’t find peace until this question reaches a fair resolution. Everyone should understand this.
I repeat, our goal is not conflict, our goal is not death. Such situations arise due to Turkey’s attacks. The Kurdish people have to defend themselves, and the Kurdish Freedom Movement has to defend itself. However, our primary goal is to resolve this issue through political and peaceful dialogue in a fair manner. We remain committed to what we’ve said in the past.