The West's fetishisation of the YPG in northern Syria is ignorant and insulting to all Kurds - and that's just one part of a broad narrative riddled with hypocrisy and an ignorance of history.
Were it not for its effect on the lives, safety and security of real people, the Western pantomime over how it treats its NATO ally Turkey would be an absolute joke.
Western politicians, journalists, analysts, and experts have been, on the whole, highly critical of Turkey’s operation in northern Syria to clear out what Ankara has dubbed a “peace corridor” across a stretch about 30 kilometres deep and 400 kilometres wide.
US President Donald Trump spoke to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and stated that his country’s forces would not get in the way of Ankara’s plans to secure its border with Syria.
The collective shrieking about “the Kurds”, this monolithic entity that the Western imagination has conjured up, is embarrassing. This is not only because it is based on lies, but also because this sudden Western fascination with “stability” and “not betraying allies” is said with such a straight face, you’d think the West never destabilised the Middle East in the first place and had never betrayed any of their so-called “allies” before.
Obama’s betrayal created this situation
Firstly, it is an insult to Kurdish people for Western policymakers and pundits to lump them all under the banner of the YPG – the Syrian branch of the PKK terrorist organisation.
There are millions of Kurds, and to describe them all as leftist extremists who have no qualms about recruiting child soldiers, racist war crimes, and a plethora of human rights abuses is fetishistic and typical of Western reductionism.
For Western analysts to continue to harp on about “Rojava”, an absolute non-entity, and to make it out like it is an almost contiguous zone inhabited solely by Kurds is to change the facts on the ground to cover up for the YPG’s reign of terror over northern Syria’s Arab and Turkmen population.
The radical leftist group has been actively razing Arab and Turkmen villages, displacing populations, and refusing to let them return despite there no longer being a Daesh threat to justify their war crimes.
Of course, none of this would have been possible without Commander-in-Speech Barack Obama’s disastrous Syria policy. Rather than accusing Trump of “betraying” Washington’s Marxist friends, perhaps Western policymakers and influencers would have deigned to remember that Obama betrayed millions of Syrians – Arabs, Kurds, and Turkmen – when he did not enforce his red line on Syrian tyrant Bashar al Assad’s use of chemical weapons.
The harrowing footage of Syrian civilians gasping for their final breaths should haunt these people’s dreams if they had any conscience left in them.
Obama also abandoned the Free Syrian Army and other pro-democracy groups out of sheer simplicity. The excuse that had been bandied about Washington and which has resurfaced in light of Trump’s recent announcement was that the Turkish-backed FSA was riddled with jihadist groups and that is why the Obama administration sided with the YPG to use as their ground forces against the Daesh menace.
Not only is that a perfidious lie that is rooted in Western anti-Arab and Islamophobic sentiment, but Turkey, a state-actor with the second-largest army in NATO, was also shunned in favour of the YPG which had since been rebranded as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
The SDF was incessantly fetishised with its female fighters shown to be “Western enough” to be worthy of support and attention, with everyone else being akin to “terrorists” whose lives did not matter if Assad blotted them out or not.
The net result of all this was that Obama spat in the face of his Turkish ally, actively armed and funded the YPG that is so clearly linked (PKK) that to deny it is to be a bare-faced liar, and forced Ankara to decouple its policy priorities from Washington’s and focus on its urgent national security instead.
Turkey’s recalibration is all perfectly reasonable, and the US’ actions created a fissure between these two NATO allies, pushing Turkey to move closer to Russia.
Blaming Trump for Obama’s mistakes is ludicrous
This is why it is outrageous for people like Senator Lindsey Graham, who described the arming of YPG militants as a “dumb idea” earlier this year and publicly admitted they are a threat to Turkey, to now come out swinging against Turkey and threatening economic sanctions should Ankara defend its borders as it has every right to.
Watching American conservatives suddenly come out in support of ideological Marxists is interesting in and of itself, but also shows how ideology gets kicked to the back of the bus when realpolitik is at play.
Suddenly, the YPG morphed into “the Kurds”, completely ignoring Kurdish factions aligned to Turkey and the FSA as well as ordinary civilians who are not partisan.
All Trump is doing is effectively reversing a catastrophic strategic decision and, at least for now, appears to be getting out of the way of his state actor ally in maintaining its national security priorities through military intervention.
It is out of the question for Turkey to allow a YPG-controlled zone right on its border where they will surely assist the PKK who will commit even more terrorist attacks against the Turkish public.
The YPG was never an ally to the United States but were in fact tools. Now that the Daesh threat has been largely eliminated or at least massively curtailed, it is in Washington’s interests to move closer to its actual ally, Turkey, which is a state actor, can and has contributed to US interests around the world, and has an economy with which to do business with.
To the US government, the YPG were grunts on the ground, no more and no less, and they should never have been relied upon in the first place.
Think-tankers, policymakers, journalists and others worried about American credibility in selling out a terrorist organisation would find their time better spent worrying about American credibility in continuing to abandon Turkey, a close ally since the Cold War.
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