Sunday, October 13, 2019

Five Things You Should Know About the Kurds - Breitbart News Network

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Five Things You Should Know About the Kurds


Turkey’s invasion of northeastern Syria to drive the Kurds away from the Turkish border is bringing more Western attention to the Kurds than they received during the long and bloody Syrian civil war, where they played a key role in defeating the Islamic State.

Here are some important things to know about the Kurds.


The Kurdish separatist party in Turkey is a Marxist terrorist organization: The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), as the name might suggest, is a Marxist political party as well as a Kurdish nationalist group. It was founded in the late 1970s as an expressly radical and violent group willing to carry out violent attacks on both the Turkish government and other Kurds seen as collaborators with the Turks.
The PKK was openly at war with the Turkish government within a few years of its founding. The conflict has alternated between terrorist vs. counter-terrorist cat-and-mouse and outright military combat, with Turkish troops attacking PKK-occupied villages in Turkey and PKK bases in Iraq.
The conflict between Turkey and the PKK has occasionally simmered down into an uneasy truce, the most recent one lasting about two and a half years and ending in 2015 when PKK fighters murdered a group of Turkish policemen. The war between Turkey and the PKK has been extraordinarily bloody, with thousands of casualties and hundreds of thousands of civilians displaced.
During its more peaceful interludes, the PKK has attempted to remodel itself into a more conventional Turkish political party and set aside its separatist ambitions, but these reforms never seem to last for long.
The PKK is designated a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. government, a status renewed upon review in March 2019. NATO, which counts Turkey as a member, also considers the PKK terrorists, as does the European Union, which Turkey has aspirations to join.
Connections between the PKK and Syrian Kurds are a major point of contention: The central question behind the Turkish invasion of Syria is whether Turkey’s assertions of a link between the PKK and Syrian Kurdish groups, specifically the PYD political organization and YPG militia, are accurate. Strangely for such a pressing issue, there has not been a high-profile international effort to definitively refute or confirm Turkey’s claims.
The Turks view the PYD and YPG as wings of the PKK and accuse the Syrian groups of supporting terrorist activities in Turkey. Turkish media routinely describes the PKK and YPG as one and the same. The stated purpose of the Turkish invasion is to “destroy the terror corridor which is trying to be established on our southern border and to bring peace to the region,” as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan put it.
Erdogan’s critics view him as paranoid and eager to find political scapegoats. They accuse him of trying to marginalize Kurdish parties in Turkey by unfairly lumping them all in with the PKK as subversives. The U.S. government officially supports the YPG as an ally against ISIS and does not consider it linked to the PKK, or at least not as closely as Turkey alleges. 
American support for the YPG enrages Turkey, which feels the U.S. is effectively supporting a terrorist organization at war with its NATO ally in Ankara. Turkey and its supporters believe the United States overlooked too many nefarious connections between Syrian Kurdish groups and terrorists in its desperation to recruit battlefield allies against ISIS.
One major link between the PKK and PYD/YPG is an influential Kurdish political leader named Abdullah Ocalan, who founded the PKK in Turkey and was influential in the formation of the PYD in Syria.
The optimistic version of their relationship is that the PYD distanced itself from Ocalan, who has been serving a life sentence on terrorism charges in Turkish prison since 1999, while Ocalan’s radical socialist and separatist views have mellowed a bit in his later years. 
The pessimistic version is that the PYD remains Marxist or even Maoist in its ideology, continues to view Ocalan as its intellectual godfather, and shares few values with the United States beyond mutual animosity toward the Islamic State. People in the region who cleave strongly to one of these views about the PYD tend to believe the other side is either naive or arguing in bad faith.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday granted that Turkey has “legitimate security concerns” because it has “suffered horrendous terrorist attacks” and “hosts millions of Syrian refugees,” but he came short of explicitly endorsing Turkey’s view of the YPG militia and urged the Turks to “avoid actions that may further destabilize the region, escalate tensions, and cause more human suffering.”