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Confusion Reigns over PKK Withdrawal from Turkey - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Thousands of supporters waving various PKK flags and posters of jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Öcalan, in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakır, Turkey, on Thursday, March 21, 2013, as Öcalan called Thursday for an immediate ceasefire and for thousands of his fighters to withdraw from Turkish territory. (AP Photo)

Thousands of supporters waving various PKK flags and posters of jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Öcalan, in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakır, Turkey, on Thursday, March 21, 2013, as Öcalan called Thursday for an immediate ceasefire and for thousands of his fighters to withdraw from Turkish territory. (AP Photo)

Erbil, Asharq Al-Awsat—The ceasefire agreement between Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan and Ankara is in doubt due to contradictory statements regarding the withdrawal of PKK fighters from Turkey.

Diyar Qamishlu, a member of the PKK command’s Foreign Relations Office, informed Asharq Al-Awsat that the “withdrawal of PKK fighters from the Turkish interior will most likely be delayed until a future date.”

However, the PKK previously issued a public statement confirming that the withdrawal of fighters is set to start on April 25. Peace & Democracy Party (BPD) deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder said: “An international public statement will be made at the Kandil Mountains on April 24 or April 25. It may be postponed to April 25. On April 25, the withdrawal will be about to start.”

However, Qamishlu stressed that the PKK military command has yet to be given the order to withdraw. He added that there is no confirmation as to whether the press conference scheduled for later today will go ahead or be postponed for a later date.

He told Asharq Al-Awsat, “The fighters remain in their positions; there has been no change in their positions.”

This comes following an unprecedented ceasefire between the PKK and Turkey, which would see the Kurdish group withdrawing its fighters from the country—perhaps spelling the end of the devastating conflict that erupted in 1984 and which has claimed more than 40,000 lives.

Önder, speaking from the Kandil mountains, emphasized that important preparations are being made to ensure that the withdrawal is being completed in a safe and secure environment.

Speaking at a press conference, he said: “All the factions constituting the Kurdistan Communities Union are very determined to carry out Öcalan’s proposal.”

He also revealed that an educational program is being developed to assist PKK fighters to transition into civil politics. He said: “What the public can’t see about the matter is this: They are not only fighters. They are insightful enough to almost build a life from nothing and still have hope in humanity.”

A third report published in Turkey’s daily Radikal claimed that the PKK withdrawal could start as early as next week, in line with assurances given by Öcalan in a letter delivered last week.

The report claimed that “the executive council of the PKK gathered on April 18 and gave orders to complete the withdrawal plans in the shortest possible time frame.”