Kurdish rebel group appoints new leader

Updated 12 July 2013
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Kurdish rebel group appoints new leader

ANKARA: The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), engaged in a fragile peace process with the Turkish government after nearly three decades of conflict, has named a hard-line party veteran as its new political leader, local media reported yesterday.
Cemil Bayik, one of the founders of the group which has fought a 29-year nationalist campaign against Ankara, is a close ally of its imprisoned leader Abdullah Ocalan, and is known for his hawkish rhetoric against the government.
In a statement published on pro-Kurd news agency Firat, the PKK announced Bayik would replace the moderate Murat Karayilan, who will however remain head of the group’s military wing. No reason was given for the leadership shake-up.
Turkey and Ocalan in March agreed on a cease-fire as part of renewed efforts to settle the conflict between Ankara and Kurdish fighters fighting for more autonomy.
As part of the truce, the PKK agreed to withdraw its 2,000 estimated fighters from Turkey to their bases in northern Iraq, but the pullout has been slow. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said recently only 20 percent of the militants had left the country.
In return for peace, the PKK has demanded wider constitutional rights for Turkey’s Kurds, who make up around 20 percent of the country’s 75-million population and live mostly in the southeast.
The PKK said it remained committed to peace “despite the unfavorable attitude” of Erdogan’s government.
The prime minister has failed to quell discontent over his increasingly autocratic style among Turks, and the country’s Kurds are also growing tired of what they see as vague promises and a failure to implement demands for greater recognition.
The PKK took up arms for Kurdish self-rule in southeastern Turkey in 1984, sparking a conflict in which some 45,000 people are estimated to have died.
 


Pompeo to visit Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan on first trip: Spokeswoman

Updated 14 min 33 sec ago
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Pompeo to visit Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan on first trip: Spokeswoman

WASHINGTON: Newly sworn in US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will head from this week's NATO meeting in Brussels directly on to high level talks in Israel, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, his spokeswoman said.

Speaking on the tarmac of Joint Base Andrews in front of the secretary's government jet as he arrived from his Supreme Court swearing-in, Heather Nauert said the stops were chosen to reflect their "importance as key allies and partners in the region."

More to follow.