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PKK leader: International mediation needed on Kurdish issue

In an exclusive interview, Al-Monitor met Cemil Bayik, one of the main leaders of the Kurdistan Workers Party, in northern Iraq's Qandil Mountains to talk about the current dispute between the Kurds and Turkey and its impact on Iraq.

In an exclusive interview with Al-Monitor, Cemil Bayik, the co-chairperson of the executive council of the Kurdistan Communities Union, a Kurdish political organization committed to implementing Abdullah Ocalan's ideology of democratic confederalism, and one of the leaders of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), makes clear that a Turkish vote on April 16 in favor of constitutional changes to give the Turkish president broad powers will only lead to instability; that the PKK is not afraid of intensifying the war if the Turkish government continues to refuse to negotiate a peace deal; and why Kurds are central to a peaceful and stable Middle East. Once again, the PKK calls on the international community, particularly the United States, to mediate between the Turkish government and the PKK and to resolve the Kurdish question in Turkey.

Bayik, a Kurd from Turkey, was born in 1952 in the province of Elazig. He is one of the founders of the PKK in 1978, and has been the backbone of the PKK ever since. He was appointed as deputy secretary-general, the No. 2 man of the PKK after Ocalan. Being the leader of the People's Liberation Army until 1995 (these days the PKK's military wing is called the People's Defence Forces, or HPG, led by Murat Karayilan) and the director of the Mahsum Korkmaz Academy, the PKK's training camp in the Syrian-controlled Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, made Bayik one of the top PKK military leaders, as well as an influential party thinker.

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