KOBANI - A former deputy chief of staff in the Israeli military said that the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is not a terrorist organization and that he would like to see an independent Kurdish state.
“And from my personal perspective, the [Turkey-based] Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is not a terrorist organization. Maybe it’s—you know, will have some headlines. But that’s the way I look at that,” Maj. Gen. Yair Golan said during a speech last Thursday at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP).
“Well there goes any chance at you winning the “Erdogan Man of the Year” award,” Robert B. Satloff, the executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) responded, who moderated the conferences.
The statements caused controversy across the world. And even though Golan conceeded that "It’s a very personal approach. I don’t reflect here any formal position of Israel", Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was compelled to release a statement to clarify the official position of Israel
"Israel opposed the PKK and sees it as terror group, as opposed to Turkey that supports the terror organization Hamas" he said.
Support in favor of an Independent Kurdistan
In the early 1960s, Israel supported the Kurdish resistance against the Iraqi state to weaken Iraq. Golan's statement seemed to hint that the PKK may have an important role in charting the course for Kurdish self-determination.
“I very much like the idea of an independent Kurdistan. Well, basically, I like the Kurdish people. And you know we’ve had good cooperation with the Kurdish people since the early 1960s,” he said.
He also believed that Kurdish independence would have a moderating effect on the region.
"Maybe it won’t materialize in our own era. I don’t know. But basically, looking at Iran in the east, looking at the instability of the region, a solid, stable, cohesive entity—a Kurdish entity—in the midst of this quagmire, it’s not a bad idea,” he added.
“And looking at the Middle East today, I would say that the only positive development concerning the destiny of the Middle East is the emergence of some sort of Kurdish entity—independent entity,” he added. “That’s the way I look at that. I think the Kurds are, by nature, a moderate element with a positive influence on the surrounding people,” he concluded.
The position on Israel among some PKK commanders
Agid Kalari, a prominent PKK commander previously based in Sinjar, told the Region last year that the Kurds have no problem with Israel. “We accept them, and if we would have a government border with them, we would never against them. We want to have a democratic relation with them. We only have one difference, Israel want a nation system for countries , we want democracy. But we want to have democracy and have no problem with other groups,” he in his base in Sinjar city last year.
Moreover, the PKK commander said that Israel used Kurdistan to weaken in Iraq in the 1960s and 1970s. “They supported the Kurdish government when they needed to weaken Iraq. When the Iraqi government is not strong, they cannot fight Israel,” he said.
“The relationship between Israel and Kurds is not based on friendship but interests. If Israel would support all Kurds, we would not have a problem. For instance, until now they did not say anything about federalism in Rojava,” he said last year. “For instance, in north Kurdistan [Turkey], Turkey is attacking Kurds, and they didn’t support Kurds,” he said. “In Basur [Iraqi Kurdistan], they play no role against ISIS. We want to change this policy,” he said.
“We know the Jewish people were oppressed, massacred, and Arabs oppressed them,” he said. “The Arabs are fighting against Israel too and we don’t accept this. If both of them be closer to the other group in a democratic system, then all problems will be fixed in the Middle East,” he said.
Moreover, he said if Kurds from all parts can be united, then the problem could be fixed in the countries. But he said until now there were still good relations between Turkey and Israel. “Turkey fight against Kurds, and Israel is against Syria [regime], but they do nothing for us. For instance, Iran is against Israel, and we fight against Iran, but they have not supported us,” he said. “It’s necessary that Israel change its policy towards the Kurds, the leader Ocalan have written about this in it’s book,” he stated.
“But we will never be part of any group rules or orders from Iran, Israel or Turkey, we are trying to work for freedom and democracy,” he concluded.