“… the tracks have vanished, we’ve lost our way, what shall we do? It must be a demon’s leading us, this way and that around the fields.”
Frustration and agony. Those are the terms that summarize what I’ve experienced over the past eight years as the Obama, Trump, and Biden administrations chose, and then continued, to arm, train, and fund a designated terrorist organization; the PKK. This policy was mendacious from the start and aided by the US media in a broad scale effort to prevent the US public from comprehending the situation’s reality. Creating the "Syrian Democratic Forces" SDF moniker was simply a PR technique to help the charade, but the SDF is an organic part of the PKK.
For Turkish citizens, however, the issue is far more horrifying. The weapons, the training, the money provided by the US to the PKK are then turned against Turkish citizens. Turkish brothers and sisters, their children, their mothers and fathers, are being killed by a terrorist organization that the US insists on aiding, despite the fury that all Turkish citizens feel towards the US on this issue. That fury is the source of Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu’s angry rejection of the US Ankara Embassy’s condolences after the recent PKK bomb in central Istanbul ended the lives of three parents and three children.
As an American who has resided in Istanbul for more than 20 years, I fully support Soylu’s sentiments. I am disgusted by the US choice to support the PKK, and have been since the policy was initiated. US foreign policy in Türkiye’s region long ago lost any pretense of morality or reason. The US partnership with Türkiye, which was originally based on shared interests and preferred values, has now devolved into a sort of grotesque Melian Dialogue, with various US officials, members of Congress, and pundits uttering dark threats about Türkiye’s regional policies. Meanwhile, the White House, the Pentagon, CENTCOM, and the State Department claim to support Türkiye’s right to defend itself while hypocritically criticizing Türkiye’s efforts to do just that in northern Syria and northern Iraq, against that same terrorist organization that the US has been propping up for most of the past decade.
The PKK/PYD/YPG’s ideology is Marxist and proto-fascistic
US officials claim that the SDF (PKK/PYD/YPG) aids the fight against Daesh/ISIS in Syria, but in Türkiye’s region, essentially no one believes that. Instead, we know that the PKK is trying to create a statelet in northern Syria. Few people in US society understand that a PKK-run state would be the Kurdish equivalent of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.
The PKK’s guiding doctrine is a combination of militant, violent Kurdish nationalism and Marxist concepts – those versed in political ideologies will easily recognize that as a rough form of fascism, or proto-fascism. That fact explains why such militant movements produce despotic, murderous regimes. Despite the pro-PKK propaganda spread in Western societies over the past decade, the terrorist organization’s Marxism also makes it fundamentally anti-democratic.
Regardless of the hype and masking, the ideology described in the previous paragraph is indeed professed by the PKK/PYD/YPG terrorist group. In the regions that the PKK has established control over, it already institutes the kind of oppressive policies that are the logical ends of its political beliefs. Because the US press does not report that reality, the vast majority of US citizens remain blissfully unaware. Maybe someone can explain to New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez that the SDF’s ideology is similar to that of Fidel Castro’s regime?
Turkish-American relations at an impasse
After so many years of writing about this subject, finding new angles to focus on is not only challenging, but also discouraging because the issue is so basic and clear: the PKK and all of its branches, including the SDF (PYD/YPG), is a violent terrorist organization, and is designated as such by the US and the EU.
America’s choice to aid the PKK has deteriorated its relationship with Türkiye to the worst condition since the “strategic partnership” between the two states was founded in the aftermath of World War II. The one current bright spot is that trade between the two countries continues to expand, and Türkiye has recently moved into a trade surplus vis-à-vis the US. The political damage done to the relationship, however, is severe. Not even the Johnson Letter or the 1970s US arms embargo created such a gloomy, antagonistic atmosphere.
Let me be clear: This situation is the fault of the US political and military leadership. They act as if they are possessed by the demons of Pushkin’s poem, have lost their mental faculties, and stumble aimlessly in the trackless fields of foreign policy, what late US Supreme Court Justice George Sutherland called “this vast external realm.” Top US civilian and military officials have chosen to make a Faustian bargain with a murderous, ideologically-driven, and proto-fascistic terrorist organization. The only way to begin repairing the situation is for the US to immediately end its support for the PKK and all of its branches.
From the American side, honest cooperation, dialogue, and the will necessary to comprehend Türkiye’s perspective and interests, and to work out compromises with Türkiye’s political leadership, must be developed urgently. US officials meeting with notorious PKK members – and then tweeting about it! – has left a deeply negative impression in Turkish society that will take years of concerted, sincere effort to alleviate. Possibly, if US officials finally comprehend that their use of the PKK as a regional proxy is a devastating mistake, not just in terms of tactics and strategy, but also in terms of America’s relationship with Turkish society, the situation may be rescued.
There is no time to lose.
AA/Dr. Adam McConnel