The PKK terrorist group has dissolved within itself as branches fall out with each other as the Syrian branch claims its own autonomous structure out of the Qandil headquarters, a point of disagreement over a recent oil deal with the United States.
The Syrian branch of the PKK, known as the YPG, which was established back in 2011 with the start of the civil war by the terrorist head Bahoz Erdal, recently made the move to distance itself from the terrorist group's Qandil structure by inking an oil deal with the U.S. without the approval of the PKK headquarters.
Currently under the control of Ferhad Abdi Şahin, code-named Mazlum Kobani, who was once Erdal's deputy, the branch is known for its autonomous actions as it has been launching its own operations and forming its own alliances in the region, excluding the PKK from the process. Şahin's moves enabled the terrorist group's Syrian branch to gain momentum while the Qandil branch constantly loses its power, fueling a rift between the two, Turkish daily Türkiye claimed on Monday.
Şahin's latest move took place last month, as he held a meeting with Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the commander of the United States Central Command, which ended up in a deal over the oil resources in northern Syria.
The U.S., which has designated the PKK as a terrorist organization, still allies itself with the SDF in Syria, which mainly consists of YPG terrorists. The YPG recently signed a deal with U.S.-based Delta Crescent Energy LLC to extract, process and trade oil.
A U.S. senator and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had referred to the oil fields deal during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing last month.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said during the committee hearing that Şahin informed him that a deal had been signed with an American company to “modernize the oil fields in northeastern Syria” and asked Pompeo whether the administration was supportive of it.
“We are,” Pompeo responded during the hearing streamed live by PBS. “The deal took a little longer ... than we had hoped, and now we’re in implementation.”
Syria produced around 380,000 barrels of oil per day before the civil war erupted following a crackdown on protests in 2011, with Iran and Russia backing Bashar Assad’s regime and the U.S. supporting the opposition.
About 70% of Syria's oil resources lie within the territories currently occupied by the YPG.
Once having their own deals with the U.S., the so-called leaders of the PKK have been dismissed from the terrorist group's Syrian branch's deals. As a matter of fact, the U.S. interior Ministry enlisted Cemil Bayık, Murat Karayılan and Duran Kalkan in the red category of its most-wanted list. While Karayılan and Bayık have $4 million worth of bounty over their heads, Kalkan has $12 million. Şahin, on the other hand, continues to be one of the country's biggest allies in the region, to the point of risking relationships with its NATO ally Turkey.
The U.S. support for the YPG in Syria has become one of the stumbling blocks in bilateral ties between the two NATO allies.
After announcing the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria twice, President Donald Trump has added more complexity to the American military's mission in the region by claiming a right to Syria's oil.
Extending the mission to secure eastern Syria's oil fields happens to fit neatly in the Pentagon's view, supported by some Trump allies in Congress, that a full withdrawal now could hasten a revival of Daesh, even after the terrorists lost their leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a U.S. raid.
Turkey has lastly condemned the oil deal for “financing terrorism,” saying that the country’s natural resources belong to the Syrian people.
In a statement, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said the YPG’s move has clearly shown its goal to divide Syria and exploit its natural resources.
The ministry also criticized the U.S. government for supporting the deal, which disregards international law and Syria’s territorial integrity, unity and sovereignty and finances terrorism.
"We regret the U.S. support for this step that ignores international law and that targets Syria's territorial integrity and sovereignty," the ministry said in the statement.
Damascus also condemned “in the strongest terms the agreement to steal Syria’s oil under the sponsorship and support of the American administration,” a statement by the foreign ministry said. “This agreement is null and void and has no legal basis.”
The recent oil deal has become the final straw for the PKK heads as well, as they officially claimed that they reject the deal itself.
"We also follow the developments from the press. This is not acceptable," Bayık reportedly said on the issue, while many claimed that the terrorist group decided to exclude Şahin from its inner circles.
Another problem with Şahin in other PKK head's eyes is the fact that he has been in talks with Nechirvan Barzani, the president of Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), whom the terrorist group has tense ties with.
The group was also uncomfortable with the fact that while it was trying to make its PR through its fight against Daesh in the international realm, the YPG released the Daesh terrorists in their hands in return for a small number of bribes.
Previously, YPG/PKK terrorists had also set free hundreds of Daesh members or turned a blind eye to their escape. YPG terrorists run more than two dozen detention facilities, scattered around northeastern Syria. U.S.-based Human Rights Watch says the YPG holds about 12,000 men and boys suspected of Daesh affiliation, including 2,000 to 4,000 foreigners from almost 50 countries.
The PKK also believes that it has been losing support in Syria, even among the Kurdish population, because of the YPG's brutal actions, especially against the Kurdish local leaders.