Iran captured but later released PKK leader Karayılan, report claims

Iranian security forces captured senior outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Murat Karayılan in August but later released him after negotiations with the terrorist organization, a Turkish daily reported on Tuesday.

The claim was put forth by Yeni Şafak daily columnist Abdulkadir Selvi, who said Iran was planning operations against bases of the PKK’s Iranian offshoot, a group called the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK), in the Kandil Mountains and suggested carrying out joint military operations with Turkey. Turkey reportedly preferred intelligence sharing to a joint operation and the country’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) informed Tehran of Karayılan’s location.

Iranian forces then reportedly captured Karayılan and his accomplices just a few days before Turkey launched an air offensive against PKK bases in Kandil. They were taken to the Iranian city of Urumiyya. Selvi says the fact that Iranian forces captured Karayılan a few days before Turkish airstrikes on Kandil and the fact that they took the PKK leader from Kandil and released him after a short while raise questions about whether Tehran had saved the PKK leader from strikes. On Aug. 18, the Turkish military launched aerial attacks on PKK targets in northern Iraq, killing up to 160 terrorists.

The daily claims that Iran did not inform Ankara about Karayılan’s capture and his transfer to Urumiyya and that the Tehran administration then released Karayılan after talks with the PKK. The content of the talks, however, were not released.

The Anatolia news agency reported on Aug. 14 that Iranian Parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee Chairman Alaeddin Boroujerdi had said Karayılan had been captured by Iranian security forces. According to Anatolia, Boroujerdi confirmed weekend news reports of Karayılan’s capture from the Iranian Fars news agency.

“The number two man of the PKK has been captured. Our intelligence forces accomplished a significant achievement by capturing Karayılan,” he was quoted as saying by Fars. However, Anatolia ran a correction later in the day saying Boroujerdi had actually said, “The number two man of the PKK has been captured,” without explicitly referring to Karayılan.

However, the explanation did not satisfy Turkey with the country’s deputy prime minister, Bülent Arınç, saying on Aug. 23 that “the whereabouts of Karayılan had not yet been clarified.” “There have still been no news reports with recent images of or statements from Karayılan. There is something about this we don’t know, but we can’t explain what,” Arınç said.

Arınç once again commented on the issue on Tuesday and gave credit to the report. “There might have been bargaining between Iran and the PKK. It will come to light soon,” he told reporters when asked about the Yeni Şafak report.

When asked whether he would make a statement regarding allegations of Karayılan’s capture, Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin said, “We could make a statement when it’s is time to do so.”



11 October 2011, Tuesday / TODAYSZAMAN.COM,