Top US General Told Kurdish YPG to ‘Change Its Brand’

Says Putting 'Democratic' In Their Name Is a Stroke of Brilliance

Back in 2015, media reports about the Kurdish YPG, a US-backed faction in Syria, suddenly started referring to a group called the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which was in  the same area, controlled all the same assets, and literally had all the same fighters.

Today, Gen. Raymond Thomas, the head of US Special Operations Command, revealed that this sudden rebranding was his idea, and that he told the YPG back then that they needed to “change your brand.” Within a day they were the SDF.

Gen. Thomas appeared quite proud of this semantic sleight of hand, insisting that the inclusion of the word “Democratic” in the new name was a “stroke of brilliance,” and gave the group credibility that they previously didn’t have as the YPG.

Whether anyone was really “fooled” is less certain, however. Turkey’s just as mad as ever about US support for the YPG, even if it’s done nominally to this SDF organization. Thomas conceded that the the YPG’s continued linkage with the PKK, at war with Turkey, is “fraught with challenges.”

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of