U.S. anti-ISIS military assistance is emboldening Syrian Kurdish Marxist rebels, threatening to destabilize the region for decades.
The Kurdish rebels, known as the Yekîneyên Parastina Gel (YPG), subscribe to a Marxist ideology propagated by a jailed terrorist leader. The YPG has deep ties to the Turkish, Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), which is a Kurdish independence group and recognized as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.
The YPG, however, has proven to be the most effective force in the anti-ISIS fight in Syria. Hundreds of U.S. military advisors are embedded with Kurdish militias, and they frequently receive aerial assistance from the U.S. military. The increasing reliance on such groups by the Obama administration has caused a major rift between the U.S. and Turkey, and made the YPG stronger than it has ever been before.
Turkey regards the YPG as big of a threat to its existence as the Islamic State, and invaded northern Syria in late August to deny any further Kurdish attempts at establishing a de-facto state along its border.
“The military support has boosted the YPG’s confidence to move beyond Kurdish populated areas and grow their ambitions even beyond Syria,” International Crisis Group expert Maria Fantappie told The Washington Post. “It has huge political implications not only for Syria but also for neighboring countries,” she continued.
Reporters overheard several Marxist screeds in a recent visit to Kurdish-controlled northern Syria. One man was head saying, “The state is an instrument of oppression.” Another said of the ideology, “It is like having a democratic mother who does not discriminate against her children.”
President-elect Donald Trump has not indicated what his anti-ISIS strategy will be, but has expressed sympathy for Iraqi Kurds in the past. A recent Syrian ceasefire struck by Russia, Syria, Turkey, and Iran may indicate that the Kurds will not have as large as a say in the future of Syria. Turkey is highly unlikely to cede any major power to the Kurdish rebel groups.
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