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» » » Why America Supports The YPG - People's Protection Units

Common interests, goals and strategies bind the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria and the United States and their allies.

    US soldier takes part in folk dance with YPJ - The Women's Protection Units


There are a number of reasons for the US supporting the Syrian Kurds and their allies within the SDF. US support for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) - a multi-ethnic, multi-religious alliance that initially consisted primarily of YPG fighters



First, in September 2014, the United States officially began to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels, including the Free Syrian Army and its affiliates. The US government has reportedly supported opposition groups with $ 500 million. It was not long before the Pentagon admitted that its efforts in Syria lag behind because "they do not have a capable local partner". Ashton Carter, the Secretary of Defense, announced that the United States in search of skills are motivated forces on the ground to retrieve territory from ISIS. The YPG proved to be the motivated alternative that the United States sought.

Second, the willingness of the YPG fighters and their resilience to a strong enemy proved as they defended Kobane. Calls to support the YPG have allowed the United States and its YPG allies to help counter the attack of a well-armed Islamic state. Due to the military support of the international coalition, initial contacts were established between the YPG and the United States. Representatives of the Pentagon often described the YPG and (later) the SDF as "a reliable and capable force" who had "fought and sacrificed" for Syria. In fact, the SDF units showed that they could attack, free and hold the ground. The strength and skill displayed by the Manbij fighters consolidated the relationship between the SDF and the United States. The direct contact between US military personnel and the YPG fighters and the positive experiences that resulted from such contacts strengthened their ties as American personnel were seen in YPG patches.

Image result for us special forces ypg


Third, at the beginning of the Syrian crisis, Americans realized that Turkey was at best a poor ally. As early as 2013, it became known that Turkey provided arms to opposition groups such as al-Qaida base Jabhat al-Nusra (called Jabhat Fateh al-Sham in July 2016). Later, Turkey's involvement with terrorist groups became more apparent as researchers from Columbia University's Peacebuilding and Human Rights Program compiled a report on providing military equipment, logistical support, and training for ISIS fighters, and facilitated the passage of its recruits to Syria , The United States and coalition forces stated that the best way to stop the cross-border movement of terrorists is to support the YPG and the SDF.

Fourth, the United States needed a group that needed support and was able to fight effectively in Syria. The Syrian Kurds are surrounded by enemy neighbors such as Turkey in the north and west, the KDP-KRG in the east, the Syrian government and the IS in the south. The Syrian Kurds urgently needed support from the United States and its coalition partners and had proven its effectiveness as a disciplined fighting force. A strong symbiotic relationship between the two sides was a natural consequence of their needs and characteristics.



Fifth, Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) took power in Turkey in 2002. Ahmet Davutoglu, who was Chief Adviser to Erdogan from 2003 to 2009 and Foreign Minister from 2009 to 2014, believed in the notion of "strategic depth," which provided the doctrinaire framework for a dramatic change in Turkish foreign policy. This strategy resulted in Turkey turning east. The shift in Turkey's attention caused consternation among policymakers in the US. Such fears became clearer as Turkey asserted itself as the keeper of the Middle East during the "Arab Spring". Support for the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates throughout the region has been the focus of US concern over Turkey's new priorities. Moreover, since the AKP's election victory in 2002, the behavior of the Turkish state has become increasingly Islamist and sometimes even a nuisance to other US ally in the region and beyond. Withdrawing Turkey's attention to the East became one of the reasons for US support for the Syrian Kurds and SDF.

Sixth, in March 2015, former Secretary of State John Kerry said that "there is no military solution [to the Syrian crisis], there is only one political solution." Kerry's reassuring statement encouraged the Russians to support their direct military support of Syrian President Bashar al -Assad intensify. The shift of priorities in the US was almost complete. Russia could now support the besieged president and give the regime a decisive position at the negotiating table. The intense Russian participation also helped Iran gain a profitable hand in Syria and the wider Middle East, while further reducing options for the United States. The shift in power relations in favor of Iran, Russia and Hezbollah brought new realities in Syria. It prompted the United States to further strengthen its links with the SDF in order to reduce Iranian and Russian influence in Syria.

Seventh, the US invasion of Iraq and the "Arab Spring" led to instability in the Middle East and North Africa. The restoration of stability in the region has become one of the main objectives of the United States, especially after the emergence of the Islamic State. In search of actors who could help achieve this goal, the US government gained new importance. The achievements of the Syrian Kurds in maintaining a degree of stability in an otherwise chaotic country have often been described as unique and have provided a good model for stability in a region that has witnessed repeated failures in democratization efforts.

One of the main causes of volatility in the Middle East is ethnic and denominational conflict. The model of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria is an exceptional example of peaceful coexistence between different ethnic and religious groups. Arabs, Yazidis, Christians and Turkmens participate alongside the Kurdish majority in the public. More than half of the forty-five thousand strong SDF consists of Arabs. Research shows that instability and discrimination are among the causes of radicalization and extremism. The support of the SDF by Western powers also supports the model that has brought stability and peaceful coexistence in the areas they control. In other words, with the support of the SDF, the US and the West want to bring stability to the region while fighting extremism

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Research shows that instability and discrimination are among the root causes of radicalization and extremism. Support for the SDF by western powers is also support for the model that has brought stability and peaceful coexistence to areas they govern. In other words, by supporting the SDF, the United States and the West aim to bring stability to the region and fight extremism at the same time.


Eighth, while the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, founded by YPG and SDF, has become a prototype of the indigenous government in the Middle East with secular, democratic and egalitarian values, the old established countries in the region are moving in the opposite direction (eg Turkey) ). By adopting secularism and respecting equality, notable advances in women's rights are the key factors in supporting the international community and the media for the experiment in northern Syria.



Common interests, goals and strategies bind the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria and the United States and their allies. These commonalities include the fight against IS and other extremist groups that limit Turkish and Iranian influence in Syria and the Middle East, achieving stability and peaceful coexistence among various ethnic, sectarian and cultural groups, as well as promoting secularism, democratic values ​​and human rights 

Sherko Kirmanj is the author of Identity and Nation in Iraq.





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