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Will the US stop its support for the YPG-PKK ?

  • Ali Cinar
  • 22 Jan 2021

The Biden adminsitration must look to work with Turkey in Syria, and that means shunning the YPG-PKK terrorist organisation.

US backs the YPG, which is the Syrian branch of the PKK listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and the EU, in their fight against Daesh terrorists. ( AA )

Joe Biden, who took office as the 46th president, immediately signed 17 executive orders. As expected, he started by cancelling several Trump-era policies. 

In particular, he signalled his decision to return to the World Health Organization and the Paris Climate Agreement and that he would be working with international partners in a globalist approach.

What about foreign policy? In the near future, Biden's foreign policy will be telephone diplomacy. Following his meeting with the Canadian prime minister, he will also meet with leaders from traditional US allies. It is not known whether Turkey will be included in this. 

The repercussions of the so-called “strategic partner” statement made by Antony Blinken, the secretary of state nominee, continue. The two NATO countries will need to work seriously to overcome issues, especially on the matters of S400s and YPG-PKK terrorist organization.

Last year, we had seen disagreements between President Donald Trump's supporters and members of the Antifa group. Trump described members of Antifa as terrorists. As will be remembered, some members of Antifa joined YPG-PKK in Syria and even clashed with Turkish security forces there.

Before Biden’s inauguration ceremony, Daniel Alan Baker, a YPG member living in Florida, was arrested by security forces following allegations that he would kill Trump supporters. 

Baker made numerous alarming statements in his confession, including his intention to kill Turkish pilots being trained in the US. It is also the first time that the US Department of Justice said in a later statement that the “YPG is a subbranch of the PKK, which is recognized by the USA as a terrorist organization.” 

Indeed, we are continuing to see statements from different civil authorities in the US stating that the YPG and PKK have close ties, albeit indirectly. However, what Turkey wants from the US is for them to say, “Yes! YPG and the PKK are the same organisation, and we are cutting our material and moral ties with them.”

While many of the officials I have spoken to in the US admit that they are using the YPG as pawns, they also stated that they support the organisation for the purposes of fighting against ISIS (Daesh).

So, now that Daesh has been defeated, what comes next? Frankly, only about 5 percent of the experts working in think tanks in the US capital view and understand the YPG and the PKK as the same.

I do hope that the Biden administration will understand the discomfort felt by Turkey better this time. Indeed, Antony Blinken, who is set to become secretary of state, did admit that they had made mistakes in Syria in a speech he made last year at the Hudson Institute.

What about Brett McGurk, who will likely take office as the Middle East and Africa director at the National Security Council? Yes, he definitely wouldn’t be the first choice for Turkey, but the conditions he wanted for Syria don't exist anymore. 

Turkey already cleared out terrorist elements in certain areas in the northwest of Syria. In case America chooses to work closely with Turkey in the Middle East, it would be bad news for both Iran and Russia. 

Although there is some conflict of interest between the two NATO members, Russia’s widening influence in the territory is always a direct threat to NATO. Besides, we should not forget the close collaboration between Russia and the YPG and the fact that the YPG has an office in Moscow.

While the previous conflict between Brett McGurk and Turkey served only to benefit the YPG, I do know that there are officials in the White House administration who want to avoid losing Turkey.

Facing a Syria with other actors now, the first vital steps for the Biden administration would be to collaborate with Turkey against the Assad regime, act with Turkey to make Syrian opponents more effective in the area, provide more systematic support for the refugee problem, and, despite it seeming unrealistic to expect anytime soon - abandon the YPG.

Lastly, they should learn from their past mistakes.

Disclaimer: The viewpoints expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, viewpoints and editorial policies of TRT World.

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