By Mehmet Nesip Ogun, PhD………
Professor of Security studies at University of Mediterranean Karpasia, Northern Cyprus
The United States has been arming the People’s Protection Units (YPG) which was founded in 2011, which is the armed wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD). Turkey has long been trying to show American officials the connections and ties between PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) and PYD. During the visits made both by Turkish and American officials to Turkey and the United States, the reality with evidence was reported.
Even during and after Turkish President Erdogan and the Turkish delegation’s visit to the United States on May 16, 2017, the Trump Administration didn’t step back from this decision. Nevertheless, the Trump Administration made promises on Turkey’s security and declared a long term strategic partnership on fighting against PKK and Daesh terrorist organisations. In this article, PYD’s relation to PKK will be analysed by presenting international reports and media news.
Even though the United States does not accept the fact that the PYD is a sub-group or connected to PKK, which is in the terrorist organisations list of Turkey, USA, European Union and so many countries, there are so many international reports, evidences, testimonies and realities that prove their connection.
When we first look into Koma Civaken Kurdistan (the so-called Kurdistan Communities Union, KCK) system, PYD is structured as the Syrian branch of KCK, along with PKK in Turkey, The Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK) in Iran and The Kurdistan Democratic Solution Party (PCDK) in Iraq. Abdullah Ocalan, imprisoned PKK’s founder and leader, is the so-called supreme leader of KCK system. PKK and PYD use almost the same symbols and emblems. Even the armed wing of PKK, the People’s Defence Forces (HPG) and PYD’s armed branch The People’s Protection Units (YPG) are nearly the same in meaning.
Independent think tanks such as Washington DC based the “Atlantic Council” and Brussels based the “International Crisis Group” have published reports that show the relations and connections between PKK and PYD. The Atlantic Council published an article entitled, “The YPG-PKK Connection”, on January 26, 2016. This report suggests that YPG casualty data confirms linkages between international PKK-linked groups. 49.24 percent of YPG casualty figures between January 2013 and January 2016 were citizens of the Republic of Turkey. Another article, entitled “America’s Marxist Allies against ISIS”, was published by The Wall Street Journal on July 2015. An interview with Zind Ruken who is a member of PKK, states that “Sometimes I’m a PKK, sometimes I’m a PJAK, sometimes I’m a YPG. It doesn’t really matter. They are all members of the PKK.”
The International Crisis Group’s Report No: 151, “Flight of Icarus? The PYD’s Precarious Rise in Syria”, suggests that the PKK’s Qandil leadership exerts authority over the YPG, whose leadership in the early days of the Syrian uprising was dominated by Syrian PKK fighters trained at that base. Another report of same group, No: 176, “The PKK’s Fateful Choice in Northern Syria”, states that the Syrian Kurdish party is ideologically linked to the PKK and its founder, Abdullah Ocalan.
There are various pictures showing PKK and PYD members taken in Qandil mountain (PKK’s base in Northern Iraq) and in Syria. High level PKK members such as Fehman Husain (aka Bahoz Erdal), Nureddin al-Muhammed (aka Sofi Nureddin), Asya Muhammad (aka Dilan Rihan Muhammed) and such operate in Syria under PYD.
Even during the testimony on April 28, 2017, former US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, admitted that the PYD and YPG has links with PKK, when asked by Senator Lindsey Graham.
PYD markets itself as a secular, democratic and very effective power against Daesh. However, PKK and PYD share Marxist Leninist ideology, and they have no interest in being secular or have the same values of the Democratic World. Their only aim is to oppress all other ethnic groups in the region including Kurds that don’t think like them, and create a de facto position for themselves.
The main consequences of the United States arming YPG will arise when YPG starts using these weapons against Turkey. Turkey will use every lawful right for self-defense in line with Turkey’s new security strategy. In addition, Turkey will never allow any security threats to come from PYD or YPG in its Southern border and will not accept any Kurdish cantons to be created by PYD.