Deputy Spokesman of the US State Dempartment, Mark Toner
24 March 2016
In an interview with with Amberin Zaman the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Masoud Barzani, said “The PYD and the PKK are the same thing. Any support to the PYD means supporting the PKK”.
In a question directed at the Deputy Spokesman of the US State Dempartment, Mark Toner, regarding Barzani’s comments on the PYD, said: “I mean, we still adhere to what our policy’s been for the past many months, which is that we view the PKK as a foreign terrorist organization. We condemn its – the violence that it carries out against Turkish civilians and citizens. And separately, we have been working with the YPG, rather, in parts of Syria as part of a number of groups we’re working with who are actively fighting and dislodging Daesh or ISIL from territory it controls.”
“That doesn’t mean we haven’t had disagreements with them when they try to hold territory or not – or declare semi-autonomous self-rule zones. We disagree with them on that and we have frank discussions with them about that. But they are part of a number of groups that have been very effective in taking the fight against – or taking the fight, rather, to Daesh. I respect his opinion, just as we respect and listen to the Turkish authorities when they express their concerns to us, but we still view this as two separate entities.”
The US has continuously stated that the PYD and the PKK are different entities despite the Turkish government’s – and now Barzani’s – insistence that they are both the same organization.
In the same interview Barzani also lavishes praise on Turkey President Erdogan saying, "I have met Erdogan many times, and I have seen that Erdogan has a better understanding of the Kurdish cause than most. What I heard from Erdogan, I heard from no one else."
When the interviewer responds, "But Turkey has a big problem with its own Kurds, and it is getting rapidly worse. It seems to me that unless Turkey fixes that problem, even if Turkey supports your independence, it won’t be on a sound foundation," Barzani accuses the HDP of not entering into a coalition with the AKP and says, "We wish that the peace process had not stopped, and we have tried our best to keep the peace process going. I don’t want to go into details, but I think that, after the June 7, 2015, elections when they [the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, HDP) got 80 seats in the parliament, we issued a statement saying that it would be a historic mistake if they were not going to be part of the coalition government [with the AKP]. And at that time, I thought that the [AKP] wasn't accepting HDP to be part of the coalition government, but later I heard from the people within HDP that it was they who didn't want to be part of the coalition. I think this was a big mistake."
Recently Kurdish circles have been critical of Barzani's silence on the curfews, sieges and killing of hundreds of Kurdish civilians in Turkey's Southeast (N.Kurdistan) and have called it tacit support for Erdogan and the AKP government.