US tying itself in knots over PKK/PYD

THE EDITORIAL BOARD
ISTANBUL
Published 27.04.2017 01:35
Updated 27.04.2017 01:36

Early on Tuesday, the Turkish military started to conduct strikes against the PKK terrorist group's bases in northeast Syria and Sinjar, Iraq. The PKK, which is recognized as a terrorist group by the U.S. and EU, has been fomenting terror in Turkey from its bases in Qandil, Iraq for decades and naturally, the Turkish government was not going to sit by and allow it to expand its zone of control to Sinjar and northern Syria. As common with any civil war, the Syrian war has created a suitable environment for terrorist groups to breed and grow before they strike at targets near and afar, as evidenced by Daesh and the PKK.

Turkey, as a loyal NATO ally, has been at the forefront of efforts to destroy Daesh in Syria and Iraq, which has carried out deadly attacks in the U.S., Europe and Turkey. It is natural for Turkey to expect the same approach from its allies in the fight against the PKK. Yet, Europe continues to work like hand-in-glove with the PKK to attack Turkey, while the U.S., despite repeated warnings from Ankara, keeps arguing that the People's Protection Units (YPG), the PKK's Syrian wing, is their ally in Syria in the fight against Daesh.

Apart from some official U.S. circles and media, no one disputes the fact that the PKK and YPG are one and the same. What the U.S. administration had to say after Tuesday's strikes, which should be seen as merely the beginning of a broader operation against the PKK and its affiliates south of the border, was full of contradictions.

U.S. Department of State spokesman Mark Toner's comments on the strikes showed that despite the change at the top, the Americans had learned nothing and forgotten nothing. Feeding one terrorist to fight the other is a policy destined to implode and they should not expect Turkey to partake in such a mistake.

Toner, in his press briefing, repeated the delusion that the YPG and PKK were completely different groups and that the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) was a multi-ethnic group of Arabs, Turkmen, Kurds, Christians and others. The fact is, as the U.S. is well aware, that apart from a token number of locals, the YPG forms the bulk of the SDF militants and it is trying to transform northern Syria and Sinjar into recruitment grounds in its fight against Turkey.

Despite the evident confusion among American officials, Turkey remains steadfast in its determination to prevent the PKK from transforming northern Syria and Sinjar, Iraq into launching pads for attacks in Turkey. Tuesday's strikes are just the beginning of a broader strategy of eliminating all terrorist threats to Turkey and the government's decision has the full backing of the public and opposition parties. It is the Turkish government's paramount duty to eliminate all threats to the nation's security. The policy of fighting the PKK in all its forms is and will remain the objective of the state and the mandate of the public.

There very well may be a certain degree of political divergence among political parties in Turkey, but there is no such split when it comes to what the PKK/YPG is and the necessity of destroying the resources that keeps it alive.

Toner's remarks on the YPG and SDF belie his claims that the U.S. is cognizant of the threat that the PKK poses to Turkey. The U.S. refusing to place its own soldiers in direct danger against Daesh is reasonable. However, using terrorists to do the fighting while arguing that these militants are not really terrorists is not, and Turkey will not stand for it.

What the U.S should do is give full support to Turkey in its fight against a group both sides recognize as terrorist groups. As a loyal ally, this is the least Turkey should expect, despite the fact that least seems to be too much for Americans.

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