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January 14, 2013, Monday

Scenarios over the Paris slayings

The Turkish political agenda has been dominated by the killings of three Kurdish women from the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) who were found shot dead in Paris on Thursday at a time when the Turkish government is conducting talks with PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan to resolve the country's terrorism problem.

Although it is still unclear who killed the three women and why, scenarios abound in the Turkish media, with the strongest theory being that the murder might have been prompted by internal feuding within the PKK.

Taha Akyol from Hürriyet mentions an analysis by Professor Mehmet Özcan, who says the PKK has three different structures within itself. One is an “ideological PKK,” or rather, a political Kurdish movement. Öcalan is certainly in control of this structure with his charisma, making it almost like a cult. The second is a “mafia-like PKK,” which is an illegal financial organization worth hundreds of millions of dollars due to drug trafficking and extortion. Öcalan is also quite effective here, but this substructure has its own rules as well. Akyol thinks the Paris killings were an execution caused by problems related to this specific structure.

The third structure Özcan mentions is the PKK's armed structure. Although Öcalan has his own power over this area, since this is far more pro-war than the first structure, there is a chance that these pro-war wings within the PKK will ignore Öcalan's call for a cease-fire. If the pro-war mentality comes to the forefront within the organization, then totalitarianism in the PKK will further intensify and the government's efforts for democratic methods will become meaningless. As a matter of fact, the essence of the negotiations conducted with terrorist organizations in democratic countries like England and Spain was “politics” and not “arms.”

The PKK, with three such different structures, is an extremely complicated organization. Conducting negotiations with it is the right thing to do, but we should not get carried away with optimism that it will easily yield results. The strategic aim should always be prioritizing the political structure of the organization rather than its armed structure, Akyol maintains.

İbrahim Karagül from Yeni Şafak, on the other hand, argues that sometimes big interests or interesting connections are hidden behind simple assassinations. Following the trails of money and assassinations can reveal critical information. That said, this might be the case with the Paris killings. An important part of the Paris slayings is about money. France has always been the center of the PKK's money flow. And if the executions in Paris were about money, then we have to focus on who controls the PKK's financial activities in France to find a clue to the murders, the columnist suggests.

However, drug trafficking and the financial activities of a terrorist organization such as the PKK can never be conducted without the protection of the state or intelligence organizations. And so, if the perpetrators of the Paris killings remain unknown or if they are covered up, then it is certain that world powers or states are behind the killings, and not individuals or organizations. And the aim of the killings was not solely to get rid of some individuals, he writes.

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