Turkey continues its effort to try to drive a wedge between the US and its primary ally in Syria, the Kurdish YPG faction, with their latest statements insisting it is “not credible” to claim that the YPG are even a separate group from the PKK, who both Turkey and the US officially list as terrorists.
The Erdogan government has tried various arguments to try to convince the US to abandon the YPG, including blaming them for a major bombing attack in Ankara earlier this month, and insisting that they are “no different than ISIS.”
Being both built around Kurdish nationalism, the YPG and PKK have a lot of cross-pollination, recruiting from the same regions. The Turkish government however, has long claimed that both they, and indeed pretty much every other Kurdish group are basically the same group with different names, a claim that’s ultimately still disputed. but has been such a central part of the official Turkish narrative for so long they are baffled by international doubts.
Turkey’s whole policy with respect to Syria throughout the civil war has centered on this narrative that the YPG must be defeated. The initial backing for the rebellion came under the assumption the Arab nationalists, if they won the war, would crack down on Kurdish national ambitions more than Assad has, and as the war has morphed into the YPG taking territory fighting ISIS, Turkey’s talking points have shifted to “stopping Kurdish expansion,” even if it means saving ISIS from losing territory.
And while the US might be willing to give NATO member Turkey the benefit of the doubt on policy within Turkey itself, it’s taking considerable effort to sell them on backing away from fighting ISIS, and focusing on defeating the Kurdish group they’ve invested so much money and arms into supporting.
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