The AP is reporting that the Kurdish separatist group the PKK has unilaterally declared a ceasefire in its terrorist attacks on Turkey.
``We are renewing our declaration to halt attacks against the Turkish army,'' Abdul Rahman Chaderchi, the PKK official in charge of foreign affairs, said in northern Iraq, where the rebels have several bases.There was a unilateral ceasefire last year too - one that the PKK didn't observe and then accused the Turks of forcing them into breaking it.
``We want peace and we are ready for negotiations. But if Turkey decides to attack our bases inside Turkey or inside Iraqi Kurdistan, then this unilateral cease-fire will be meaningless. If we are attacked, we will fight back and we have the ability to confront any Turkish aggression,'' he added.
Turkish authorities generally ignore rebel statements, ruling out negotiations with ``terrorists.'' Turkey has rejected several past cease-fires declared by the group, vowing to maintain its military drive until all rebels surrender or are killed.
In Washington, the State Department said the cease-fire is no substitute for a total end to activity by the PKK.
``The PKK is a terrorist organization,'' spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters. ``We take quite seriously the concerns of the Turkish government. They've lost lives ... and it's an issue that needs to be dealt with.''
It was unclear if the PKK announcement reflected a desire to ease pressure from the Turkish armed forces, or was a public relations effort to portray the rebels as peace-seeking, and the military as the aggressor. The rebels might also want to give Kurdish candidates in Turkish parliamentary elections next month a chance to make gains at the polls without being accused of links to rebel violence.
McCormack is so full of it though. "It's an issue that needs to be dealt with." It's an issue the Bush administration has singularly failed to deal with, preferring to trade PKK freedom of operation for a pro-US and relatively quiet Kurdish North. The fact that the PKK also attacks Iran - and hasn't announced a ceasefire there - is just icing on the cake.