Jalal Talabani, who died mid last year, was the founder and for a long time leader of the PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan). For a time there was a cease fire between Turkey and the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) because of a deal he brokered. It all fell apart very quickly when the PKK abducted two Turkish agents from MIT (the Turkish National Intelligence Agency) while they were in the Kurdish city of Sulaymaniah, a stronghold of the PUK. The PUK has always been an under the table supporter of the PKK and overt proponent of the YPG, a group with close ties to the PKK and both are long time enemies of Turkey.
Now Turkey is accusing the PUK of supporting terrorism and has halted all flights to Sulaymaniah while rejecting the PUK’s representative/ambassador to Turkey. The PUK’s council of leadership has disclosed to local media that, “Although a delegation of ours met with the Turkish foreign minister following the event and discussed the situation and the Dukan incident, it is likely that Turkey still does not believe that the PUK was unaware and un-involved.” They added that, “We have told Turkey that the PKK exists in the border zones. Just as it operates in the border areas controlled by PUK, it operates in border areas controlled by KDP. They operate even on Turkish soil and conduct activities on a daily basis.” The two Turkish agents were kidnapped by PKK operatives near Dukan last August and have been accused of plotting to assassinate high ranking members of the PKK in Kurdistan. The PUK has met with PKK leadership to ask that they not agitate Turkey or give them a reason to attack PUK territory.
One member of the PUK’s leadership council, Nasrullah Surchi, admitted that their refusing to continue flights between Sulaymaniah and itself, Turkey is still clinging to, “Grudges harbored from the Dukan incident.” He went on to say, “Turkey is confused. It accuses a party and a government every day, and it has now turned its attention towards the PUK and has decided not to lift the air flight ban towards Sulaimani. On the one hand it tries to destroy the Kurdish house and divide the Kurdistan Region into two administrations. On the other hand, it is paving the road for attacking Qandil.” He added that, “Through this method, Turkey wants the PUK to do two things for it – to either fight the PKK for it or open the road for it to attack Qandil. Surely PUK will do neither.”
This passed week a delegation of PUK representatives convened to discuss possible solutions to the situation. Blessah Jabar, a member of the meeting, reported that, “We can’t obstruct people’s activities in support of Afrin and Rojava, but these issues need to be resolved through dialogue.”