Skip to main content

Kurdish Rebel Group in Turkey Re-Focuses on Syria

A change in the PKK leadership has prompted debate over Turkey’s Kurdish peace initiative and Syria policies.
Kurdish female fighters from the Popular Protection Units (YPG) take positions to guard the area in Aleppo's Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood, June 19, 2013. Kurdish fighters from the Popular Protection Units (YPG) joined the Free Syrian Army to fight against forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad. Picture taken June 19, 2013. REUTERS/Nour Kelze  (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTX10UJ9

A surprise reshuffle in the top leadership of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has prompted fresh worries that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)'s efforts to solve Turkey’s most complex problem may be doomed.

In a statement carried by the pro-PKK Firat news agency on July 10, the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), an umbrella group for the rebels, announced that its long-serving Chairman Murat Karayilan had been replaced by Cemil Bayik and female militant Bese Hozat. Karayilan, who remains a member of the KCK leadership council, was the government’s chief interlocutor among rebel commanders based in Kurdish-controlled Northern Iraq. Talks with Karayilan were mostly conducted via Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Massoud Barzani and his Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). The KDP, which is now closely allied to Turkey, hails Karayilan as a “moderate” who “genuinely wants peace.”

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.