Marxists vs Jihadists: Perfect if Both Sides LosePosted: July 25, 2015
SINJAR MOUNTAIN, Iraq—Nine years ago, Zind Ruken packed a bag and left her majority-ethnic-Kurdish city in Iran, escaping a brutal police crackdown and pressure to marry a man she’d never met.
“America’s association with a terror-listed Maoist-inspired militia, even if indirect, shows how dramatically Syria’s conflict has reconfigured regional alliances and eroded once-rigid borders.”
Now the 24-year-old is a battle-hardened guerrilla, using machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades to fight Islamic State extremists in Syria and Iraq.
She has deployed to reverse their advances on self-governing Kurdish communities. Last summer, she says, she helped rescue Kurdish-speaking Yazidis besieged on Sinjar Mountain. Her unit has fought Islamist insurgents and conventional armies in Syria, Turkey, Iran and Iraq—countries where an estimated 30 million Kurds live.
“Constantly shifting alliances in the region mean the PKK’s rise isn’t certain to continue. But the guerrilla group’s growing stature has alarmed Turkey, a crucial North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally of the U.S., with whom the PKK has fought a three-decade war costing some 40,000 lives.”
Ms. Ruken’s journey provides a glimpse behind the remarkable rise of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, the cultlike Marxist-inspired group she fights for and whose triumphs against Islamic State have helped it evolve from ragtag militia to regional power player.
The PKK and its Syrian affiliate have emerged as Washington’s most effective battlefield partners against Islamic State, also known as ISIS, even though the U.S. and its allies have for decades listed the PKK as a terrorist group. The movement in the past has been accused of kidnappings, murder and narcotics trafficking, but fighters like Ms. Ruken have presented the world an appealing face of the guerrillas—an image of women battling as equals with male comrades against an appallingly misogynist enemy.
“Obama administration officials acknowledged the PKK and YPG have links and coordinate with each other in the fight against Islamic State, but they said the U.S. continues to formally shun the PKK while dealing directly with YPG.”
U.S. war planners have been coordinating with the Syrian affiliate—the People’s Defense Units, or YPG—on air and ground operations through a joint command center in northern Iraq. And in two new centers in Syria’s Kobani and Jazeera regions, YPG commanders are in direct contact with U.S. commanders, senior Syrian Kurdish officials said.
“There’s no reason to pretend anymore,” said a senior Kurdish official from Kobani. “We’re working together, and it’s working.”
By contrast, Ankara agreed only on Thursday to allow coalition airstrikes from an eastern-Turkey air base, after months of negotiations in which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ’s government resisted international calls to enter the war with Islamic State. U.S. officials said the base deal shouldn’t affect U.S. air support to Kurdish fighters in Syria and may help increase collaboration with the YPG because jets and drones will be closer to the battlefield.
U.S. defense officials said coordination with YPG units, including some inside Syria, has improved the ability of coalition aircraft to strike Islamic State positions and avoid civilian casualties. U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter during a visit to the region this week said YPG forces in Syria are “extremely effective on the ground.”
Constantly shifting alliances in the region mean the PKK’s rise isn’t certain to continue. But the guerrilla group’s growing stature has alarmed Turkey, a crucial North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally of the U.S., with whom the PKK has fought a three-decade war costing some 40,000 lives. The PKK is in peace talks with Turkey, and a political party linked to the PKK won a record 12% of the vote in Turkey’s June parliamentary elections. Troubled by the PKK’s battlefield victories, Ankara has vowed to prevent the formation of a Kurdish state in Syria.
“We recognize YPG are fighting [Islamic State] and that Americans are giving support to it,” a Turkish foreign ministry official said. “We transmit our views to American allies.”
On Monday, an Islamic State suicide bomber killed 32 Kurdish and Turkish activists in a Turkish border town opposite the Syrian city of Kobani, a YPG stronghold. The PKK on Thursday said it had killed two Turkish police officers in retaliation for not stopping the bomb.
Obama administration officials acknowledged the PKK and YPG have links and coordinate with each other in the fight against Islamic State, but they said the U.S. continues to formally shun the PKK while dealing directly with YPG. The groups operate under separate command structures and have different objectives, the officials said.
America’s association with a terror-listed Maoist-inspired militia, even if indirect, shows how dramatically Syria’s conflict has reconfigured regional alliances and eroded once-rigid borders….(read more)
- Obama condemns pair of deadly attacks in Turkey (sandiegouniontribune.com)
- Erdogan calls on pro-Kurdish party to sever ties with PKK (en.trend.az)
- President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech during the inauguration cermony in Turky (nation.com.pk)
- Turkish warplanes strike ‘Islamic State’ in Syria and Kurdish militants in Iraq (phantomreport.com)
- Turkey’s Voters Slap Down an Autocrat (nationalreview.com)
- Turkey’s President Erdogan Calls for the Islamic “Liberation of Jerusalem” (thegatewaypundit.com)
- Obama Promises to Help Turkey Secure Border While US Border With Mexico Remains Wide Open (thegatewaypundit.com)
- Turkish Prosecutor Taken Hostage in Istanbul (punditfromanotherplanet.com)