Turkey’s ambassador to Lebanon, Ali Barış Ulusoy, on Monday slammed Lebanese daily Annahar Al Arabi for publishing an interview with Cemil Bayık, a so-called senior leader of the PKK terrorist organization.
In a letter sent to the newspaper's director Ghassan Hajjar, the ambassador said it was "very appalling" to see Annahar Al Arabi had published an exclusive interview with "one of the most internationally renowned terrorists." The article had been published on Oct. 27.
Ulusoy denounced the paper for agreeing to act as the "mouthpiece" of a terrorist organization, stating that by publishing such an interview it is "complicit in communicating its (the PKK's) black propaganda."
"At a time when Lebanon needs the support of its friends in the region, we consider this publication a very unfortunate move which has the potential to undermine its existing friendly and brotherly relations with Turkey," the ambassador wrote, in reference to Lebanon's political and economic woes.
He also stressed that the PKK terrorist group has posed an existential threat to Turkey for nearly four decades.
In the interview conducted by journalist Sarkis Kassarjian, who is known for his anti-Turkey stance, Bayık claims that the PKK has 1,500 "militants" inside Turkey and 2,500 more outside the country. The figures are likely inflated, as Turkey has marked notable success against the terrorist group in recent years, eliminating its members – or convincing them to surrender – while making it hard for the group to attract new recruits.
Bayık also alleged that due to intensive Turkish airstrikes, PKK terrorists are operating in small units.
Turkey’s counterterrorism efforts continue decisively through the coordination of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), the National Intelligence Organization (MIT), the Gendarmerie General Command, the police force and local units.
The PKK's leadership is struggling to recruit both militants and higher ranks, according to reports. Additionally, many terrorists are reluctant to enter Turkey from Iraq to carry out attacks due to the high number of casualties.
In recent years, Turkey has stepped up operations at home and across its borders against the terrorist group and has also convinced an increasing number of members to abandon the PKK.
Turkish security forces regularly conduct counterterrorism operations in Turkey's eastern and southeastern provinces where the PKK has attempted to establish a strong presence and bases.
In its more than 40-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union – has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.