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BorderWatch:Turkey
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PKK May Be Moving Camps Out of Iraq
Defector Reportedly Tells Turkish Authorities Which Country Likely Future Home
11/30/2007 12:55 PM ET
Dohuk, IRAQ: A PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) patrols during an early morning training session, 20 June 2007 at the Amedia area in Northern Iraq, 10 km near the Turkish border.
Mustafa Ozer/AFP/Getty
Dohuk, IRAQ: A PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) patrols during an early morning training session, 20 June 2007 at the Amedia area in Northern Iraq, 10 km near the Turkish border.

Feeling the pressure of Turkish threats of invasion and increasingly squeezed by northern Iraqi authorities, the PKK may be seeking to relocate its camps to a more friendly locale, according to Turkish intelligence reported in the Turkish press.

A former PKK member has reportedly told authorities the group's "administrators" had decided to move 10 of their camps from the Qandil mountains to a new country, with the Armenian-controlled Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan being the likeliest future home, according to Today's Zaman.

Today's Zaman reports:

Currently an estimated 450 PKK leaders are believed to be hiding in northern Iraq. The intelligence reports on the PKK’s relocation considerations came from an ex-PKK member using the code name “Şahin” (hawk), who surrendered to Turkish security forces after he fled the PKK’s “Çarçela” camp in northern Iraq. He said the group had evacuated most of its camps in northern Iraq to avoid a potential military strike by Turkey.

The PKK initially considered moving its camps to Iran, where the camps of its sister organization, the Party for a Free life in Kurdistan (PJAK) are located. However, recent Iranian operations against PJAK and improving relations between Turkey and Iran -- including intelligence sharing -- forced the PKK to reconsider.

Meanwhile the government of Azerbaijan has requested detailed information about PKK militants in its territory, since the terrorist group has recently increased its activities on in Azeri territory. Concerned about the fact that most PKK terrorists have Turkish passports, which confer special access privileges in Azerbaijan, the Azeri government has offered cooperation with Turkish security forces. It is also preparing to pass a new law that will prevent even sympathizers of the PKK, which it considers a terrorist organization, from forming any associations in the country. A senior official from the Azeri Justice Ministry was in Ankara on Nov. 28 to talk about the details of the bill.

Armenia is making a special effort to settle the PKK in Nagorno-Karabakh, alleged Mehmet Azeritürk, the secretary-general of the Federation of Turkish-Azeri Associations, speaking to Today’s Zaman. “Armenia is making an effort to bring PKK militants into the cities of Şuşa, Lacin and Fuzuli, to be able to keep these cities it has occupied.” If these three cities fell under the PKK’s control, a buffer zone would be formed between Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh, Azeritürk warned.

Although Armenian officials deny any contacts with the terrorist PKK organization, they say it is possible that local administrators in Nagorno-Karabakh may have had such talks.

Hasan Sultanoğlu Zeynalov, Azerbaijan’s consul-general in Kars, eastern Turkey, was the first to warn of the talks between Nagorno-Karabakh administrators and the PKK. He said, “There is a single country left in the region where the PKK could go, and that is Armenia. Our research has led us to confirm that some PKK administrators went to Armenia to have talks there -- about which we immediately informed the Azeri government and the Turkish government.”

He said although Kurdish villages in Armenia near the border were an option, the PKK would prefer Nagorno-Karabakh, a relatively more remote and safe region.

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