A prominent Iraqi Kurd says that his country's Kurdish leadership would be happy to wake up one morning to find the PKK had left the country. Kamran Karadaghi, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's chief of staff and a close associate, also says he has no expectation that the US will be withdrawing soon.
Karadaghi focused on the big questions in his interview with the Turkish paper the New Anatolian, excerpts of which appear below.
On the prospect of national unity in Iraq
The emergence of a viable unity in Iraq is in the interest not only of the Iraqis themselves but also of the region and the world. Of course it is up to the Iraqi people and their leaders in the first place to determine the kind of unity they want for their country. But it is vitally important that the regional powers, particularly Iraq's neighbours, understand that only a unity based on federalism is viable for Iraq and that only an Iraq as such can bring peace and stability to their borders.
On the possibility of American withdrawal
There will be no American withdrawal from Iraq. The stakes are too high. America is in the middle of the battle in Iraq, and it can't afford to flee the battlefield in defeat. I think President George W. Bush is determined to overcome all opposition to his Iraq policy.
On problems with the PKK
There can't be denying that the PKK is a problem not only for Turkey, but also for the Iraqi Kurds. They have no interest whatsoever in the presence of the PKK guerrillas on their territory, albeit in the remote zigzags of the Qandil mountains. Frankly I think the Iraqi Kurdish leadership would be no less happy than the Turkish government if they wake up one morning and discover that the PKK guerrillas have disappeared from their territory. The problem is how you get rid of them....
For the Iraqi Kurds to launch war against the PKK, as some in Ankara demands, is out of the question. For all kinds of national, political and military considerations the Iraqi Kurds can't fight PKK no matter how unhappy they are by their presence which invites permanent threats of military intervention by Turkey. I am pleased to say that there are many in Ankara who understand the complexity of the problem and therefore do not make such demands to the Iraqi Kurds.