The Democratic Union Party (PYD), the political wing of the People's Protection Units (YPG), opened a representative office in Moscow on Tuesday. A portrait of the PKK's jailed leader, Abdullah Öcalan and a map of "Kurdistan," which includes southeastern Turkey, were featured on the walls of the office.
The following day, the YPG threatened Turkey and issued a declaration, saying, "Syrian Kurds are ready to protect the Kurds in Turkey. The circumstances are no longer bearable." Also, according to a news report published by Daily Sabah, the organization released a video in late January which calls on Westerners to join the group and attack Turkey. "The footage shows a man with his face covered by a scarf and a rifle on his leg, making a statement to a group of people gathered around him, urging Kurds and Westerners to take up arms against the Turkish state," the report said.
Shortly after the footage was released, Brett McGurk, the U.S.'s special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter DAESH, paid a visit to Kobani. He was seen receiving an appreciation plaque from a terrorist named Polat Can, who initially began his career in terrorism in the PKK until 2003 when he joined the YPG.
Speaking on the same day of the declaration of the YPG's formal threat, U.S. Department of State Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner said, "We've been very clear; we view the PKK as a terrorist organization, but we make a clear delineation between the PKK and the YPG." He continued on, saying that the U.S. disagrees with Turkey on the issue of the YPG.
The YPG does not consider itself to be independent from the PKK. This is how it manages to overtly declare its ability to enter Turkey and bolster its strength via the PKK. The YPG declares that it accepts Öcalan as its leader. However, the U.S. turns a blind eye to what is occuring here, unwavering in their stance on Turkey, which they insist should make a clear distinction between the PKK and the YPG, as the latter fights DAESH. This counters the U.S.'s perspective on groups like the al-Qaida affiliate - al-Nusra Front - which is considered a terrorist organization even though it fights DAESH. In the same way, Turkey expects the U.S. to accept the PKK's affiliate, the YPG, as a terrorist organization as well.
There is a clear reason why Turkey regards DAESH, al-Nusra Front and the YPG as terrorist organizations. As a U.S. ally which sees aircrafts departing from İncirlik Air Base open a sphere for the YPG, Turkey shows clear sensitivity. Certainly, if this sensitivity is ignored, the public will pressure the government about letting (coalition forces) use İncirlik Air Base.
Moreover, reports from the battlefield prove that the YPG no longer acts at the helm of the U.S., but of Russia. Although Washington has urged for a long time, the YPG has not taken a single step into Raqqa, which is considered to be "the capital city of DAESH." However, it has been busy intimidating the opposition which has combatted DAESH for a while. First, Russia has been evacuating the area by bombing it for some time, and then the YPG attacks moderate opposition groups including the Free Syrian Army (FSA) that come to defend Kobani. For instance, while Russia was bombing Tal Rifa'at, Menagh and Ayn Daqna regions, the YPG battles with opposition groups on the ground. The Menagh Air Base in northern Aleppo, which is of critical importance, is completely in the grip of the YPG now.
If the U.S. does not find another ally that will fight DAESH on the ground, continues to confine itself to the YPG, which has been proven to violate human rights, cooperate with Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime and come under Russia's control, and leaves even CIA-backed opposition groups to their fates with Russia, it will have proven that it does not have a lead to be followed.
About the author
Hilal Kaplan is a journalist and columnist. Kaplan is also board member of TRT, the national public broadcaster of Turkey.