Kurdish Rebel Leader Says U.S. Could Mediate in Turkey Talks

fft64_mf1719935Kurdish separatist fighters want an international mediator, possibly the United States, to help get peace talks with Turkey back on track and avert an escalation of their insurgency, the head of the group’s political wing told an Austrian newspaper.

Cemil Bayik, a founding member of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and its most senior figure at liberty, also reiterated accusations that Turkey was waging a proxy war against the Kurds in neighbouring Syria by backing Islamist rebels fighting them in the north of that country.

Syria’s civil war has complicated Turkey’s efforts to make peace with its own Kurds but Ankara strongly denies backing any Islamist faction against the Kurds in Syria and has held regular talks with the head of a Syrian Kurdish group close to the PKK.

Around 30 million Kurds live in the Middle East but lack a state of their own and are spread across Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. They make up about a fifth of Turkey’s total population.

“There can be no solution with war, so there has to be a political solution (in the PKK’s conflict with Turkey),” Bayik told Der Standard newspaper in an interview published on Monday.

“We have now reached the point where there has to be movement. That is why we are suggesting a third power observe this process. This could be the United States. It could also be an international delegation.

“We need a go-between, we need observers. We would also accept the Americans. From our view it is moving in this direction,” he added.

The United States, like its NATO ally Turkey and the European Union, classes the PKK as a terrorist organisation