Saturday the news came in: Murat Karayilan has been arrested in Iran! That’s what you could really call ‘breaking news’: Karayilan is the leader in the field of the PKK, so the second man after jailed leader Abdullah Öcalan, and high on the ‘most wanted’ list of the Turkish state. But soon it turned out the news wasn’t true, or at least couldn’t be confirmed. The Turkish government soon said they hadn’t heard of the capture. Scornful laughter for TRT, the state TV channel that came with the news.
But was that all? Just a mistake of the state TV? Or was more going on? It seemed so, when on Sunday there was ‘breaking news’ again: Karayilan was indeed caught in Iran, and it had been confirmed by some Iranian official. To cut it short: after hours of nervous news updates, it again turned out to be untrue. The Iranian official had said that ‘the second man’ of the PKK had been captured, and even that was later officially denied. A major anticlimax.
But an anticlimax raising questions. Who benefitted from spreading false news? It’s remarkable that not any Iranian agency came with the scoop, but the TRT, a channel that is, to say the least, not known for producing one scoop after another. On Sunday the state news agency Anadolu Ajans came with continuing updates about Karayilans ‘capture’. So is it the state having an interest?
In the spotlight
Before answering that, let me draw your attention to two other interesting things that were going on. First, in Copenhagen, Denmark, yesterday the newest court case against Kurdish TV channel Roj TV started. They broadcast from studios in Belgium with a Danish license. The Danish prosecutor now wants to revoke the license, because he (and many others) consider Roj TV to be a propaganda channel for the PKK. The false scoop put Roj TV pretty much in the spotlight: they said from the beginning the news was not true, and I’m sure they attracted a whole lot of viewers over the weekend – also in Turkey, where the channel can be received via sattelite. Did Turkey need to stress the fact that there are indeed links between Roj TV and the PKK, right before the beginning of the court case?
Second, August 15 is an important date for the PKK and it’s supporters: on that day in 1984 the PKK carried out it’s first armed attack. It was commemorated, or I should say celebrated, by many Kurds in many countries. To be honest, it gives me a cramp in the stomic to celebrate the beginning of an era of violence, also if you call it the beginning of ‘counter violence’. Violence and the killing of human beings can never, never be celebrated. Anyway, did the Karayilan ‘news’ somehow have anything to do with this historical date?
In the meantime, the whole region is of course being turned upside down these days. Syria and Turkey have been relative friends since some years, but the friendship is fading away because of the fierce violence of the Syrian government against its own citizens. Turkey has medium good relations with Iran too, and in all three countries, and in Iraq, part of the Kurdish population lives. Regional relations are being redefined, and the Kurdish question and the (since recently increasing) violence of the PKK, is part of that process.
Yesterday Prime Minister Erdogan announced that his government will take stronger measures against the PKK after the end of August, with the words: ‘Wait until after Ramadan’. Is everything that happened over the weekend part of preparing the Turkish people for violence after Ramadan? It could be. It could also be major blunders have been made at TRT and Anadolu Ajans, and it is all just a coincidence that Karayilan was ‘caught’ – the news has actually been issued 26 times since 1997, so I heard. How matters really stand? What really happened behind the screens? If you know more, don’t hesitate to use the comment field underneath!