A 2018 US State Department report lists the PKK as a terrorist organisation but the US still shies away from accepting the link between the YPG and the PKK despite a mountain of evidence.

Washington has seemingly shown indifference to its own counter-terrorism procedures when it comes to Turkey’s core security concerns.

In a State Department report released early this month titled Country Reports on Terrorism, the PKK was listed as a terrorist organisation while the group’s Syrian wing, the YPG, was not mentioned at all despite proven links between the two affiliates and a shared organisational structure.

The US report explains in detail how the PKK has committed numerous acts of terrorism against the Turkish state and its citizens for decades but makes no specific link between the Syrian and Turkish branches of the group.

“The PKK continued to conduct terrorist attacks in Turkey and against Turkish interests outside of Turkey,” the report said, listing PKK terror attacks in 2018 across the country. 

“The group is located primarily in Turkey and Iraq. Affiliated groups operate in Syria and Iran,” the State Department adds without describing the names of these groups. The PKK’s affiliated groups in Syria operates under the name ‘YPG’.

“Using the expression ‘the PKK affiliated groups in Syria’ instead of mentioning the YPG in name, is an attempt to cover up the unlawful position of the US authorities that do not hide their cooperation with this terrorist organisation,” said a Turkish foreign ministry statement on November 3. 

Since 2014, Washington has supported the YPG, giving the group military and diplomatic cover under the front organisation known as the SDF. This group, which is ostensibly marketed as a multiethnic coalition but it is actually dominated by the YPG terrorist group, has been an ally to the US in fighting against Daesh in Syria. 

Members of the YPG, the Syrian branch of the PKK terrorist organisation, chat with members of US forces in the Syrian town of Darbasiya next to the Turkish border, April 29, 2017.
Members of the YPG, the Syrian branch of the PKK terrorist organisation, chat with members of US forces in the Syrian town of Darbasiya next to the Turkish border, April 29, 2017. (Reuters)

While Turkey has demanded that the US stop its backing of YPG terrorists on the grounds that the group takes its orders from the PKK’s leadership located in northern Iraq’s Qandil mountains, Washington has refused to do so, insisting in the face of established facts that the groups have no connection. 

This contradictory approach persists despite some US generals and policymakers acknowledging the connections. Even US President Donald Trump has recently accepted that the PKK is “probably worse at terror, and more of a terrorist threat in many ways than ISIS [Daesh]". 

Washington’s YPG policy has frustrated Ankara, its NATO ally, to such a great extent that it has led to Turkey partnering with the Russians to address the country’s security concerns along its border with Syria. 

Ankara recently launched its third cross-border operation in northern Syria, clearing out YPG groups from border areas to create safe zones to resettle its big refugee population back there. 

Despite Trump’s understanding with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in early October on the main aims of the operation, some prominent American senators backed by Western media have lobbied to stop Ankara’s efforts to dismantle the YPG in northern Syria. 

Double standards

While American-led Western media outlets unfairly criticise Turkey’s operation, they have largely been silent on the recent terror attack in Tal Abyad, where at least 13 people were killed in a car bombing attack. Turkey has accused the YPG of carrying out the attack. 

The mainly Arab-populated Tal Abyad, a border town, had been liberated by Turkish-led forces from the YPG during Ankara’s recent Operation Peace Spring. 

"We condemn the terror attack in Tal Abyad bazaar place that claimed 13 lives and wounded many. This terror attack exposed once again the true face of YPG/PKK terror group and the risks of supporting terror groups,” said Fahrettin Altun, Turkey's  Director of Communications. 

“This attack shows that partnering with terrorist organisations will not correct their behaviour and change their methods of reaching their goals but only increase their destructive and violent capacity to conduct further terrorist actions,” Altun added.  

Source: TRT World