The PYD & the PKK: two sides of a coin

Last week, questions were addressed to the US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter by the Republican Party Senator, Lindsey Graham, and the answers were highly interesting in terms of the Turkish public opinion. For some time Turkey has put an effort to prove the US affiliation between the PYD-PKK through top level negotiations  but to no avail up till now. Ashton Carter’s admission that the PYD is an affiliate of the PKK was the first Turkey heard from a high-ranking US official. In this Q&A argument, Senator Graham successfully received these answers: The USA was indeed arming a terrorist organization that is a branch of the PKK, and therefore the resentment its ally, Turkey, expressed was not at all surprising.

Despite the extensive warnings and reports issued by Turkey for a long time, the US  administration had been disregarding this kinship. The US believed that they had secured a military ally in Syria in the fight against ISIS without ignoring that the PYD was a Stalinist terrorist organization that oppresses even its own people and not a legal democratic party as suggested by some.

Thus, it will be crucial to provide some details about the elements of this association.

The leader of the PKK who is responsible for 40,000 deaths in Turkey, Abdullah Öcalan, was forced to flee to Syria together with its members in the 1990s. After Öcalan was caught in 1999, the organization was consigned to the Syrian intelligence service. Under the guidance of Al-Mukhabarat, Osman Öcalan, who is Abdullah Öcalan’s brother as well as one of the senior commanders of the PKK founded a new structure named the PYD [Democratic Union Party] in 2003.

In his interview in 2013, Osman Öcalan stated the following:

“I founded the PYD, as I did PJAK (the PKK’s Iranian arm). We did not use the word “Kurdistan” in the party’s title since we did not want to provoke the Syrian regime. The PYD is connected to the PKK, and acts upon on PKK orders. We founded the PYD in Qandil. We held the first general PYD congress in October 2003. We trained the cadres in Qandil.”

The PYD constitution states that it is subject to Kongra-Gel (Kurdistan People’s Congress) in official management.  Kongra-Gel is, in fact, none other than the PKK itself; there is only a name change and the US recognizes Kongra-Gel as a terrorist organization. The facts that the PYD is a branch of Kongra-Gel and its leader is in fact Abdullah Öcalan are stated in the PYD’s constitution as follows:

“The PYD acknowledges Abdullah Öcalan as its leader, KONGRA-GEL as the legislative power of the Kurdistan peoples, and the KCK,  city-based structure of the PKK, as the democratic system for the Kurdish people in Syria.”

Nevertheless, it is quite interesting that these phrases that had been featured in the bylaw as a non-amendable article since 2003, was mysteriously removed from the constitution in 2015 after the USA officially provided arms for the PYD.

Just like the PKK, the PYD aims to establish a Stalinist regime on  Syrian territory.  Therefore, the Kurds have never been the main concern of the PYD; it has always been the Kurdish people who suffered oppression at the hands of these terrorist groups. However, despite this, the Kurds have always been  used as a shield for the PKK-PYD.

According to a report by the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR), in regions under its rule, the PYD inflicts persecution especially upon the Kurds, and commits human rights violations against civilians and documents that during the period from March, 2011 to the end of 2015, the military branch of the PYD (the YPG) arbitrarily arrested at least 651 people, killed 41 women and 51 children, and forcefully recruited 1,876 children into the army. Additionally, from the beginning of 2014 until  October, 2015, 88 women, 34 of whom were children, were abducted by the YPG and until the end of 2015, 51 children were slaughtered in random shootings or by a sniper’s bullet. The campaign launched against the PYD’s child soldier deployment  received support from many German politicians including the Co-President of Germany’s Green Party, Cem Özdemir, Christian Democratic Union Party Member of Parliament  Uwe Schummer, and Social Democratic Party Member of Parliament  Gerold Reichenbach. Highly-placed politicians such as the members of the European Parliament’s  Committee on Foreign Affairs, Alyn Smith and Petras Austreviclus, and Vice President of the Human Rights Committee, Dan Christian Preda, were among the supporters as well.

The Chairwoman of the German-based European Center for Kurdish Studies Eva Savelsberg, summarizes the gravity of the situation by saying “The PYD has started a process that rivals the human rights violations of the Syrian regime,” and added: The West must realize who they are arming and consider the potential consequences. Responsibility for human rights violations rests with those who give support for those who engage in such violations. The PKK is making much money in Syria. The border fees collected through the PYD, the taxes collected in Syria, in other words, the money that belongs to Syria, is being transferred to Qandil, to the PKK. It is not spent within Syria. Furthermore, in Syria, the PKK can easily provide people with military training in camps.”

It is quite obvious that many international human rights organizations such as IHCR, Amnesty International, and UNESCO have written countless reports clearly documenting that the PYD is directly affiliated with the PKK and revealing human rights violations. It is a well-known fact that the PYD acts directly in unison with the regime forces in Syria, and is in an alliance with Russia at this stage. Despite all these facts, the US insistently arming and supporting a Stalinist-Marxist terrorist organization is, in many ways, quite shocking. By doing so, the US both causes tensions with its own ally, Turkey, and acts in defiance of the principle of collaboration against terrorism that was established among  NATO members. Moreover, the USA defies the very values it claims to uphold by arming a Stalinist terrorist organization. It is a historical mistake for a country which fought in both Korea and Vietnam in order to protect the world from the communist scourge to support a communist group that, in the future, might very well became a nuisance for itself as well.

The USA is our ally and friend; we would never want the USA to bear such a great burden, neither for its friends nor for itself. Just as we do against radical terrorism, we should fight together against communist terrorism as well. Supporting one terrorist organization in order to eliminate  another might bring forth an even more horrible nightmare to the world. Acting in awareness of this and fighting against all  terrorist acts and ideologies as two allied countries should be our joint principle.

Harun Yahya is a Turkish author of the bestseller “Islam Denounces Terrorism.”

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