Turkey signals tougher response to PUK over PKK links amid Kurdish unity over Kirkuk

If the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) does not distance itself from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Turkey may take “further steps” in response, Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said in an interview on Sunday.

Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan has threatened the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) for not heeding their demands regarding Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) activities in Suleymaniyah. Fidan stated that Ankara is prepared to take “further actions” if the PUK continues its current stance on the PKK, which involves not preventing the group from accessing infrastructure in Suleymaniyah province.

If the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) does not distance itself from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Turkey may take “further steps” in response, Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said in an interview on Sunday.

Speaking to the government-affiliated A Haber TV, Fidan alleged that the PUK, which is the ruling force in Suleymaniyah (Silêmanî), Iraqi Kurdistan, has been supporting the PKK by providing them with national identity cards and access to medical facilities and other infrastructure.

Fidan, who served as the head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organisation (MIT) before becoming Turkey’s foreign minister, said that they have officially declared this issue as a policy concern and initiated sanctions before, referring to a flight ban imposed by Turkey on Sulaymaniyah International Airport since April 2023.

Fidan stressed that if the PUK decided to distance itself from the PKK, this could lead to a reconsideration of the sanctions. Conversely, if they persist in their current stance, Turkey may find it necessary to take further action in response.

Fidan’s threat came after the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the PUK agreed to appoint a Kurdish governor for Kirkuk, emphasising a united front to protect the gains and stability of the Kurdistan region.

During the interview, Fidan emphasised that the PKK’s alleged partnership with the PUK has been a recurring issue and that it has been communicated on several occasions that such cooperation categorises the PUK as an adversary.

Fidan’s threat came after the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the PUK agreed to appoint a Kurdish governor for Kirkuk, emphasising a united front to protect the gains and stability of the Kurdistan region.

The PUK has repeatedly denied supporting the PKK, with PUK leader Bafel Talabani asserting that groups designated as “terrorists” by Turkey are legal entities in the Kurdistan Region and are licensed by Kurdish authorities or the Iraqi government to engage in political activities.

In September, Turkey carried out a drone strike at Suleymaniyah’s Arbat airport, killing three members of the PUK’s Counter-Terrorism Group (CTG). Turkey alleged that members of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara claims is the Syrian front for the PKK, were present at the airport during the attack.

Talabani lamented that Ankara’s actions had resulted in the loss of the lives of three ‘anti-ISIS heroes’ and personal friends of his, who he said had been ‘martyred’ without any justification at Arbat airport in Suleymaniyah. He also revealed that he was under constant surveillance by Turkey.

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This news was originally published by Medyanews.

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