The Chameleons of Rojava

The Chameleons of Rojava

Text about PKK/PYD's politics by Ben Davies. It has since been pointed out that Davies holds extremely dubious pro-Islamist politics; as such, we reproduce this text for reference and for the more enlightening discussion below the article itself.

The recent exploitation of the collapse of the rebel front line in Aleppo by the PYD’s armed wing (YPG) and its allies in the Syrian Democratic Forces took some observers by surprise.

Having been praised by many (including Syrian revolution supporters) for determined resistance to the Da’esh juggernaut, the YPG became a pariah almost overnight for [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Aleppo_offensive_(2016)]attacking[/url] every rebel group in Aleppo in its bid to grab as much territory as possible before the regime got there first.

In 2014 there had been something of a thaw in relations between the YPG and various rebel groups after years of fighting that had raged ever since the YPG took control of Syria’s northern Kurdish regions. The threat of Da’esh bearing down upon them forced several groups into an uneasy truce against a common enemy. The crucible was Kobane, which almost fell to Da’esh in September 2014 before FSA and YPG units drove the group back with heavy casualties on both sides (and more than a little help from US airstrikes). The Euphrates Volcano was the most prominent of the joint operations rooms.

Yet over a year later attempts at unity have fallen apart once again as the YPG assaults the rebels in Aleppo via the Efrin canton, accusing anyone and everyone who stands in their way of being “Islamist” aggressors. Indignation was expressed by observers online and offline, Syrian and non-Syrian. But given the YPG’s recent history, this move was hardly unexpected.

The YPG (“People’s Defence Units”) established in 2011 originated in the PYD (Democratic Union Party) established in 2003, the Syrian wing of the Kurdish Marxist rebel group PKK. The PKK has been engaged in a decades-long struggle against the Turkish state. The Assad regime had massacred tens of revolting Kurds in al-Qamishli in 2004, displacing thousands. The PYD was seen as an opponent of the regime in the aftermath of the massacre.

Up until April of 2011 when the anti-regime uprising was in full swing, the PYD was said to be engaged in a very lop-sided struggle against the regime. Up to 1400 YPG-linked activists were arrested, tortured and killed. The leadership (including current PYD leader Salih Muslim) was exiled abroad, unable to enter Syria for fear of arrest.

When the uprising began in March 2011 the PKK was initially supportive of the anti-government rising. Anti-Assad activists were interviewed on the PKK’s RojTV, given over to Syrian opposition use. Known opposition figures such as Abdulrazak Eid, Haytham Manna, Fayez Sara, Hassan Abdul Azim and Yassin al-Haj Saleh were interviewed. The PKK also encouraged Syrians to rise up and stage demonstrations.

That same March, Iran’s army began heavily shelling the PKK’s bases in the Qandil Mountains. The Qandil Mountains are a crucial stronghold; from this natural fortress the various PKK-aligned groups receive orders from the central command. Several branches of the PKK are garrisoned there alongside the PYD. This includes the Iraq-based Kurdistan Democratic Solution Party (PCDK) formed in 2002, and the Iran-based Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK) formed in 2004.

After the shelling increased, jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan got the message. He ordered the pro-revolution discourse to cease from his Imrali Island prison. The tables turned; PKK propaganda outlets now smeared the revolution – for everything from demonstrations being carried out outside mosques (the PKK is avowedly atheist) to the revolution allegedly being “controlled” by the Muslim Brotherhood.

On April 6th 2011 Ocalan told his lawyer to transmit a message to the regime. The following was part of it; Ocalan declared that Assad should “met with the Kurdish organizations. The PYD is there, and if Assad’s Syria carries out democratic reforms we will support them.” In exchange for supporting the regime Ocalan suggested several steps:

Cultural and self-administration rights could be recognized as part of these reforms; for example, municipalities could be run [independently]. Kurds could be given the chance to administer their affairs for themselves and have their identity recognized. If they [the Syrian regime] do that, we will support them […]

He finished off his statement with a nonchalant remark: “The Assad family knows my approach to the cause.”

This is hardly an exaggeration. From 1979-1999, the PKK was welcomed by Hafez al-Assad. Syria’s late ruler helped the PKK to establish training camps and Ocalan gave him permission to use PKK fighters for operations in his proxy war against Turkey. The PKK also held official conferences (at least two by 1982) on Syria’s territory. Ocalan also received weapons and financial support from the regime. His organisation was essentially controlled by Syrian intelligence; Ocalan was too indebted to Hafez to resist.

When the PKK declared war against Turkey in 1984, Hafez allowed Ocalan to recruit thousands of young Syrian Kurds for the bloody struggle. By the 1990’s Ocalan was so obliged to the Assad family that he denied Syrian Kurds (or Kurdistan in Syria) existed; he claimed most were “immigrants.” As such, the PKK would “return them to their original homeland.”

Such was Ocalan’s dependency on Hafez al-Assad’s clique for support that he was even prepared to deny that the existence of the Kurdish people in Syria had any historical basis. His statements never came close to criticising Assad’s tyrannical mistreatment of his own Kurdish population – in fact he encouraged Assad’s “Arabization” (expelling Kurds from Syrian Kurdistan and supplanting them with Arabs) by claiming they should never have been there in the first place.

By 1999 Turkey had tired of the PKK launching assaults against their state from Syria; Hafez was told to either give up Ocalan or face war. In 1998 Syria expelled Ocalan (he was then arrested and deported to Turkey in 1999) and went about normalising relations with Turkey. When Bashar al-Assad succeeded his father in 2000 he closed the PKK’s camps, renditioned key PKK members to Turkey and dismantled the infrastructure. However, some claimed that clandestine Syrian support for the PKK continued, and that the PYD may have been collaborating with the regime, even of engaging in subversive activity against the Kurdish population on behalf of the regime.

In by April 2011, Ocalan and the PKK had seen the opportunity to re-establish their organisation within Syria – on the side of the Assad regime. On April 13th 2011 Ocalan released another statement to his lawyer, reiterating his previous demands and adding:

If Syria accepts these demands, support will be given to Assad […] If the state moves in the opposite [direction], takes temporary steps and adopts a dilatory political approach, the Kurdish people, led by the PYD, will fight alongside the Arab opposition, following the principle of democratic self-administration.”

In other words, the PKK would side with whoever was guaranteed to grant it the breathing space it needed within Syria’s borders to take advantage of the collapsing regime and establish a Kurdish “state” based on Ocalan’s blend of hard-line socialism and “Democratic Confederalism”.

Assad took the bait. In April 2011 Ocalan sent 1000 PKK fighters from the Qandil Mountains into Syria in coordination with the regime’s security apparatus. They began to organise themselves into the “People’s Defence Units” (YPG), completely unmolested by the omnipresent regime forces. By late 2011 Assad had allowed the PYD to open six Kurdish language schools in territories under his control. These schools are openly used for propaganda and indoctrination purposes. In March 2012 another 2000 PKK fighters were allowed to enter Syria’s borders.

In July 2012 the regime put a plan of action into effect in coordination with the PYD and withdrew its forces from Kobanî, Amuda, and Afrin. In fact the regime abandoned most of Syrian Kurdistan, save Qamishli and al-Hasakah province. The PYD’s YPG units then systematically took control of the towns the government forces handed to them (with barely a shot being fired), claiming they “liberated” the territories from Assad’s grip.


The PKK also staged demonstrations in support of the regime when the links were reforged. This demonstration in Beirut was staged in 2011.

Consequently anti-regime demonstrations that had previously raged in the Kurdish territories were repressed by the PYD. Anti-Assad graffiti was painted over, Syrian Air Force Intelligence (secret police) headquarters were allowed to continue operations unmolested, and anti-Assad activists were assassinated by the YPG. Kurdish opponents of the PYD are subject to arbitrary arrest (which has continued to this day) and media outlets which the PYD deems too critical are shut down. This month the PYD banned the Kurdish Rudaw network from Kobane.

Kurds in Amuda protested against the YPG in 2013. The demonstration was reportedly fired upon and resulted in 7 fatalities and 40 injuries. The PYD/YPG became known as the “shabiha of the Kurds” for repressing demonstrations on Assad’s behalf. A 107-page report entitled, “Under Kurdish Rule: Abuses in PYD-Run Enclaves of Syria,” was released by Human Rights Watch in 2014. The report documented arrests (including abuse in captivity), killings and use of child soldiers.

Popular Kurdish opposition leader Mashaal Tammo had already been assassinated in suspicious circumstances in October 2011 as he organised an anti-regime coalition. Now others began to fall; tribal leader Abdullah Bedro was also shot and killed. The PYD denied any involvement, eventually admitting complicity when the body of a fallen YPG fighter was discovered at the scene. The PYD was also accused of killing of Dr. Serzad Hac Resid, the Aleppo-based representative of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYDKS). He had been involved in distributing video footage exposing the Assad regime’s brutality.

In 2013 YPG leader Salih Muslim (whose first act upon returning to Syria in 2011 was to meet with Bashar al-Assad as part of the “patriotic opposition”) was claiming the anti-Assad opposition forces were responsible for the 2013 chemical massacre in Ghouta, regurgitating pro-regime propaganda by essentially claiming rebel fighters gassed themselves and their families to induce foreign intervention. Muslim also claimed the collapse of the regime would “be a disaster” for Syrians. Muslim’s statements have often been overlooked by the media at large; in November 2011 he stated that PKK summary executions of Kurds deemed to be “traitors” were justifiable. “If the PKK punished people, it had its reasons,” Muslim remarked.


Free Syrian Army members killed in clashes with the YPG were displayed on YPG propaganda channels.

When Muslim was asked if his men would eventually join forces with the Syrian army, he was open to the idea. “Why not join forces if the Syrian forces are trying to return to the region in a different perspective and under new conditions? In that case the PYD will become a part of the Syrian army.”

When Assad’s advisor Bouthaina Shabaan boasted that the YPG was an integral part of the regime army the YPG strongly denied it – only for UN Ambassador Bashar al-Jaafari to back her up. “These Syrian Kurds supported by the American administration are also supported by the Syrian government – just for your information,” Jaafari said.

Shabaan and Jaafari aren’t the only ones to speak up in support of the PKK. Assad himself claims to have supplied them with many of the weapons they later used against his enemies. Architect of the Baniyas massacre Mihraç Ural claims the YPG hasn’t clashed with the regime and should be seen as “necessary.” Ural was responsible for introducing Abdullah Ocalan to Hafez al-Assad decades earlier.


Mihrac Ural and Abdullah Ocalan together in Syria during the Cold War.

It later emerged that Iranian forces had arrested PKK leader Murat Karayilan in 2011 after a tip-off from Turkish intelligence. After initially planning to rendition him to Turkey, Iran brokered a deal with Ocalan. They would free Karayilan in exchange for a ceasefire and the PJAK withdrawing from Iran. Iran also wanted the PKK’s central command to order the PYD to support the Assad regime to take some pressure off Assad. The request was granted; Karayilan was released and PJAK units withdrew from Iran to Turkey.

By 2012 the PYD and its YPG military wing as avoiding confrontation with the regime at all costs. Instead they turned their attention to the anti-regime opposition. In July 2013 the YPG seized Ras al-Ayn and its border crossing from anti-government forces. Two days later they stormed Tal A’lo. By September the YPG was even clashing with the FSA and shelling the refugee-populated town of Atme. By November the YPG had grabbed 40 more villages, including Aleppo province’s strategic Tell Tamer, and was actively clashing with Da’esh fighters (Da’esh also fight the anti-regime opposition) throughout the region.

By early-2014, cooperation between the FSA and various YPG groups began, as Da’esh presented a growing menace. The Euphrates Islamic Liberation Front, Liwa Ahrar Souriya (Brigade of Syrian Free Men) and the Liwa Thuwwar al-Raqqa (Brigade of Raqqa Revolutionaries) joined the YPG in fighting Da’esh.

By September 2014 the YPG had been pushed back to the tiny border town of Kobane by Da’esh. By then, the Obama administration had seen fit to make the YPG the sole benefactor of US arms and support. Backed by an immense volume of US airstrikes (and smaller FSA formations) the YPG managed to break the siege, recapture all the lost territory and launch an offensive that eventually unified the two YPG-controlled “cantons” in Syria with the fall of the border town of Tall Abyad in July 2015. Every battle fought by the YPG since Kobane has been heavily aided by US airstrikes.

What followed was less than positive. The YPG initially let the FSA formations put the green revolutionary flag up for the cameras before taking it down and replacing it with their yellow standard. Local FSA commander Abu Ali said the move violated an agreement between the two sides that both flags would fly. Merely a day after the fall of the city, his men left to rejoin their comrades in the north.

“We sacrificed so many martyrs for this flag,” he said. “Would you accept your flag being insulted in this way?” He wearily admitted that some FSA-affiliated groups would remain fighting with the YPG however, claiming the support (and weapons) they receive makes them dependent on them.

But this is hardly the most serious allegation; far more serious are the multiple witness accounts and reports by human rights groups claiming the YPG forcibly displaced thousands of Arabs and Turkmen from Tel Abyad and the surrounding regions. Methods of displacement included threats and burning down houses of non-Kurds, even though Tel Abyad and the surrounding towns aren’t historic been Kurdish territory.

Local civilians claim the YPG forced them to leave Tel Abyad, some 16,000 were displaced as the YPG advanced with heavy US air cover. In an unusual display of unity, more than a dozen anti-Assad opposition groups (from Islamic factions to secularists) signed a statement condemning the group.

One refugee claimed the group told local Arabs their territory was part of “Rojava” and they should go back to the Tadmur desert where they “belong.” Ibrahim al-Khider, a powerful local tribesman, was told that he and his people should “Go back to your desert.”

Spokesman for the Syria’s Turkmen minority Tarik Sulo also complained bitterly of his people facing displacement. Although the YPG is traditionally perceived as having a cordial relationship with Syria’s minorities, the Assyrian Khabour Guards nullified their alliance with the YPG. In a statement they claimed the group turned on them, killing their commander and trying to drive them out of their villages. One Amnesty report claimed the Arab-populated village of Husseiniya had seen more than 90% of its buildings demolished by the YPG to ensure that residents couldn’t return.

Although the YPG strongly denies these claims, their conduct in Tal Abyad seems rooted in long-standing YPG policy toward Arabs. In 2013 YPG leader Salih Muslim said that Arabs in lands they deemed to be Kurdish “will have to be expelled” because “all the villages” there belong to the Kurds. The reference to all the villages can now be understood in the aftermath of the takeover of villages with little to no Kurd inhabitants.

Some foreign fighters embedded with the YPG have also expressed reservations. A German volunteer described the YPG as sending untrained minors into battle with little training as if it were “a school trip with guns.” Adding that he couldn’t confirm systematic displacement, he admitted “they’ll trash the place” if it’s an Arab settlement.


Western reluctance to arm anti-Assad forces in case weapons fall into the “wrong hands” hasn’t applied in the case of the YPG, which has repeatedly given US arms to its counterpart in Turkey. This has included German anti-tank missiles and drones.

The YPG continued advancing, unifying several FSA groups in the “Syrian Democratic Forces” in October 2015. The groups included Jabhat al-Akrad (Kurdish Front) the FSA’s 99th Brigade and Special Operations Center 455. It also included Jayth al-Thuwar (Army of Revolutionaries) composed of former members of the now-defunct Syria Revolutionaries Front.

Despite friction with the anti-Assad resistance the YPG was often given the benefit of the doubt until February of this year during the regime assault on Aleppo.

On February 1st the Syrian Army’s 4th Mechanized Division, Hezbollah, Kata’ib Hezbollah (Iraqi Hezbollah) and Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba (an Iraq Shi’ite militia),attacked positions of the anti-Assad forces around Bakshoy, heading to the besieged Shi’a enclaves of Nubol and al-Zahraa. By February 3rd they overran opposition defences and relieved the two towns.

The assault cut opposition forces off from their Turkish supply line which had enabled them to get supplies into Aleppo and withstand the regime siege. However this could have been reversed or blunted (as the earlier Aleppo offensive had been) had it not been for the YPG and its SDF umbrella assaulting rebel positions 24 hours later on February 4th, grabbing the northern towns of Ziyara and Khreiybeh north of Nubl in coordination with the regime. The regime simultaneously attacked and captured Mayer and Kafr Naya.

Previously the YPG had taken towns in raids. However this was a prolonged assault on rebel-held Aleppo in coordination with the regime and allied forces. On February 6th the YPG and Jaysh al-Thuwar took two villages, al-Faisal mill and a hill as the regime advanced. They also coordinated with the Russian Air Force which bombed the town of Menagh for them. The YPG warned rebels to hand over the town or they would get the Russians to bomb them again (it’s worth noting that the YPG allegedly threatened Arab residents of villages surrounding Tal Abyad with US airstrikes in 2015).

On February 7th the regime’s forces were some 7km from opposition-held Tell Rifaat. At the same time the YPG & aligned forces took three villages and then (by the regime’s own admission) set up a joint checkpoint with the regime forces to coordinate their assault on the opposition.

The SDF has expressed no reservations on ignoring the regime, claiming they’re not a “a problem.” It may be surprising to some as various SDF’s factions claim to be FSA. However some groups (Jabhat al-Akrad and Jaysh al-Thuwar) are controversial; al-Akrad was expelled from the FSA for being too close to the PKK. Jaysh al-Thuwar members are former fighters for Jamal Maarouf. His SRF was expelled from Idlib and Aleppo for looting and extortion, practices which SDF members have continued throughout Aleppo province. Even their US allies refused lethal aid to the SRF in its early days, reluctant to be seen to be seen as close to them.

In fact SDF commander Abu Ali Bard claims the SDF is far from an anti-regime force as they “protect” Kurds alongside the regime (no mention of Arabs, despite the coalition allegedly having an inclusive focus) and “received weapons from them and fought against the organization (Da’esh) together.” Another nail in the coffin of the YPG’s denials.


A gathering of regime and PYD/YPG loyalists in Hasakah province. The Hezbollah flag should also be noted; Hezbollah backed up the YPG by sending 100 fighters to assist in operations.

On February 10th Mennagh was hit with over 30 Russian airstrikes and finally fell to the YPG/SDF. On February 11th they began an assault on rebel-held ‘Azaz (as boasted about by pro-regime Al-Masdar News) the most strategic anti-regime town in the province. On February 13th the SDF continued trying to take ‘Azaz, coming within 500 metres of the town. This prompted Turkish artillery to open fire on the SDF from across the border.

Prime Minister Davutoglu demanded that the SDF withdraw. The SDF refused, parading captured anti-Assad fighters on their TV networks as “al-Nusra.” On February 16th the SDF attacked the Castello road (the opposition’s crucial supply route) in an attempt to besiege the city. The attack was repelled.

The SDF then started taking opposition strong-points in the city with the backing of Russian strikes (as reported by pro-regime media). On February 26th the regime launched an assault on rebel groups through PYD-held territory. On February 27th regime forces handed over the village of Ahras to the SDF. Fighting continues around the city and its rural areas. The YPG has been accused of looting Arab towns and committing atrocities. Many Arabs fled into Da’esh-controlled territory in fear.

The Future of the PYD in Syria

Turkey has long viewed the YPG with suspicion, seeing it as synonymous with the PKK. As did the US Counter-Terrorism Centre until 2014 (the link was abruptly removed and the text altered). US association with the YPG has done more to put Syrians off the group and its allies than anything else. As analyst Kyle Orton put it:

The U.S.’s support for the PYD is sustained by a legal fiction—that the PYD is a separate entity from the PKK. It is not: the PYD is subordinate to the PKK command structure. As one fighter put it, “Sometimes I’m a PKK, sometimes I’m a PJAK [the Iranian branch of the PKK], sometimes I’m a YPG. It doesn’t really matter. They are all members of the PKK.” Understandable, then, that the U.S. arming the PYD upsets Turkey. But the PYD’s history means that the U.S. supporting it upsets many Syrians.

When heavy Russian bombardment of opposition forces began in September 2015 (under the guise of fighting Da’esh) the PYD immediately made themselves available to the Russians, claiming they would be willing to become partners in exchange for arms and air support. The YPG had made the same offer to the US-led coalition only a month earlier, inviting them to establish bases (the US has since established an airfield in PYD-controlled territory).

The PYD’s claim of being an ally of the FSA as it coordinates action with the US coalition and the Russian forces did nothing to make the group welcome in the eyes of the majority of Syrians. The US is widely seen as supportive of Assad and Iranian influence in Syria, a viewpoint which unfortunately stands up to the facts (and was hardly dispelled by Kerry’s threats directed at the opposition recently).

The PYD cannot be both anti-regime and pro-regime, anti-intervention and pro-intervention. In fact the PYD/YPG is often referred to as “the Kurds” collectively, as if Syria’s Kurds support the group as a whole. This misconception is clouding our ability to interpret events on the ground. Kurds are overwhelmingly anti-regime, rebel groups are full of Kurds and the Syrian opposition blocs are full of Kurdish groups. The one-time leader of the Syrian National Council was Kurdish politician Abdulbaset Sieda. Even the Da’esh attack on Kobane was led by a Kurd.

Since 2011 the PYD has been firmly on the side of the Assad regime. For now this is a tenable position. The opposition are too distracted by Da’esh onslaughts, Russian bombing and fighting the Assad regime to defeat them, to say nothing of the fact that they enjoy the protection of the US coalition. Although Turkey is shelling their fighters and proxies, it is also curtailed from moving against them. To intervene with ground troops would involve attacking a force aided by their supposed allies; US special forces are intermingled with the very units Turkish armed forces would be obliged to attack. It would create a backlash that Erdogan certainly doesn’t need.

It is true that the YPG has sometimes clashed with the Assad regime as many PYD supporters often claim. However these clashes have been limited, local skirmishes which are often ignited by disputes between YPG and regime commanders over control of territory or attempts to forcibly conscript Kurds into the regime army. There have been no permanent disputes or serious grievances between the two.

Should the balance of power tip in favour of the anti-Assad fighters, or should the regime fall, the PYD could quickly find its position untenable. Widely detested by Syrian opposition groups from Islamic fighters to secular forces, the YPG could easily be set upon by various groups in a marriage of convenience. Such was the case in 2012 and 2013 when the FSA, Ahrar al-Sham and al-Nusra Front rallied against them. Only next time the YPG may not be able to count on the regime to draw opposition fighters away from their fragile hold on Syria’s Kurdish regions.1

Posted By

Guerre de Classe
Sep 23 2016 17:17

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potrokin
Sep 29 2016 11:49

First time I've read this. Very informative, thankyou for posting.

Spikymike
Sep 29 2016 17:32

Given the more recent Turkish military intervention in Syria and the increased bombing and shelling of 'rebel' forces in eastern Aleppo and the history of shifting alliances between the Kurdish PYD/YPG and other global and regional players where has this left the Kurdish controlled area of Aleppo - are they also being bombed by Assad and Russian air forces?

baboon
Sep 29 2016 20:08

I'm not entirely au fait with the latest military placements, but I don't think that there are any Kurdish forces in Aleppo, certainly not in the firing line - which looks to be just about anywhere the Russians and the Syrian regime decides. The Kurds control two great chunks of the Turkish border area to the north-east and north-west of Aleppo and it's neither in the interests of Turkey or Damascus for these to consolidate and join up, though the latter have worked with the Kurds before. It was raising an American flag over their base that the Kurds recently averted a direct Turkish bombardment. An attack on a direct US ally, the Kurds, by Russia or the regime would be a major escalation but it can't be ruled out.

On the coup and counter-coup in Turkey and more generally: http://en.internationalism.org/icconline/201609/14098/new-turkey-brings-...

jesuithitsquad
Sep 30 2016 13:55

I'd be interested to hear what Flint has to say when fact- checking this article, but this

Quote:

based on Ocalan’s blend of hard-line socialism and “Democratic Confederalism”.

caught my eye. I don't know anything about Ben Davies but the phrasing of that sentence implies to me he doesn't think highly of 'socialism' to begin.

Devrim
Sep 30 2016 19:58

"The previous secular Kemalist system was seen as indirectly favouring the Shiite Aleviminority at the expense of the Sunni majority, since the Alevi form of Islam is seen as more adaptable to the modern world."

There are lots of problems with the ICC article, but this is pretty shocking. I wonder if the author thinks Alevis were being favoured in Maraş, Çorum, Sivas, and Gazi Mah.

Devrim

Richard 1917
Oct 2 2016 17:50

http://basnews.com/index.php/en/news/middle-east/289288
US Airbase in Rojava “Almost Finished”: Source
The airbase consists of a landing runway and a base for logistical support

Quote:
KOBANI — An informed military source from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) revealed on Sunday, July 24, that the US troops have almost finished the construction of the military airbase in the southern Kobani in Syrian Kurdistan [Rojava].
The source told BasNews on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the information that "the US experts are now at the final stage of building the US airbase in the village of Sabit (35 km south of Kobani)", noting that "the US military support for SDF has reached advanced levels."
He further explained that "the airbase consists of a runway and a base for logistical support."
Regarding the significance of building two US airbases in Kobani and the Ramelan in Hasaka, the source indicated that "these bases will reinforce the US presence on the ground, and can be used as an alternative to the current demanding airbases subject to conditions, and they may hinder or affect the plans in the fight against Islamic State (IS).
"The construction of such bases is highly significant to the region as it will secure the US long-term support for the region and is an important step towards building political relations with the self-governing administration of Rojava, ruled by the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), the source said.
He pointed out that the US bases in Syrian Kurdistan are a great achievement for Rojava while it is seeking to gain international recognition for its democratic self-ruling administration.
The source also explained to BasNews that "another vital aim behind the US bases constructed in Rojava is to get rid of Turkey's conditional airspace use as this base can be an alternative to Incirlik base which Turkey frequently threatens to shut it down for the anti-IS global coalition warplanes.
A senior military source in the US-backed SDF, revealed earlier that the US troops began building two military airbases in Syrian Kurdistan. The US officials however denied the report at that time while satellite images showed the expansion of an airbase near Ramelan.

http://basnews.com/index.php/en/news/middle-east/280945
France Setting up Military Base in Kobani
The French military advisors are overseeing the project

Quote:
KOBANI — France has started setting up a military base in Kobani, Syrian Kurdistan [Rojava], said an official from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
The source confirmed to BasNews that the French army is establishing a military base for their troops on Mushtannour hill, southeast of Kobani, and a number of French military advisors are overseeing the project.
The source also revealed that dozens of French and British military advisors have arrived in Rojava, ruled by the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Party (PYD), to assist SDF in their fight against the Islamic State (IS) in Syria.
A number of French and British military advisors are also providing advisory support to SDF in their operation to liberate Minbaj from IS, the source added.
The French defense ministry previously stated that French military advisors in Syria support Syrian Democratic Forces — in which the Kurdish forces are the major component — in the fight against IS by providing them with advisory assistance.

http://basnews.com/index.php/en/news/middle-east/269248
US Changes Plan of Building Air Base in Syrian Kurdistan
The Air base will be included in a large military compound in southern Kobani

Quote:
KOBANI — USA has allegedly made shifts in its plan and decided to instead relocate it to the western outskirt of Kobani, and build its air base in a village in the southern part of the town.
A source from the Syrian Kurdistan administration in Kobani Canton, confirmed to BasNews that the US has halted its plan for setting up an air base in the Kharab-Ashiq village, eastern Kobani and it is now planning to build the facility within a larger military base in Sabt village.
According to the source, the US has previously bought a wide area of land in Kharab-Ashiq, but ultimately changed the plan to include the air base within a military compound in Sabt village.
Some local farmers from Kharab-Ashiq confirmed to BasNews that they have already sold their farms to the US air forces as they were planning to use the area for military purposes.
Sabt is an Arab village where the residents have abandoned their homes due to the military conflicts; the village is now under the control of the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
Meanwhile, the Obama administration is considering sending 250 additional US special forces to Syria to advise the rebel groups as part of a broader Pentagon recommendation on how to increase the pace of operations against IS, a US defence official said on Friday.
The new deployment is to lay the groundwork for local forces to retake both Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq, and eliminate IS' ability to use them as areas from which they plan external attacks, CNN reported.

Red Marriott
Oct 3 2016 20:01
Quote:
the US bases in Syrian Kurdistan are a great achievement for Rojava while it is seeking to gain international recognition for its democratic self-ruling administration.

the French army is establishing a military base for their troops on Mushtannour hill, southeast of Kobani, and a number of French military advisors are overseeing the project.
The source also revealed that dozens of French and British military advisors have arrived in Rojava, ruled by the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Party (PYD), to assist SDF in their fight against the Islamic State (IS) in Syria.

So that's what anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist Kurdish autonomy looks like.

Blesk
Oct 4 2016 15:10
Quote:
He pointed out that the US bases in Syrian Kurdistan are a great achievement for Rojava while it is seeking to gain international recognition for its democratic self-ruling administration.
The source also explained to BasNews that "another vital aim behind the US bases constructed in Rojava is to get rid of Turkey's conditional airspace use as this base can be an alternative to Incirlik base which Turkey frequently threatens to shut it down for the anti-IS global coalition warplanes.

All my congratulations to the “proto-state” Rojava that allows thus the murderers of US Air force to compensate for the difficulties to use the Incirlik air base of their Turkish ally. Rojava is not yet a member of the Atlantic alliance NATO, but just a little more effort “comrades”. All the bullshit on “democracy without a state”, anti-capitalism, and revolution is nothing but just for show intended for libertarian and Marxist-Leninist milieus in line with any reform of capitalism.

Flint
Oct 6 2016 22:37
jesuithitsquad wrote:
I'd be interested to hear what Flint has to say when fact- checking this article, . I don't know anything about Ben Davies but the phrasing of that sentence implies to me he doesn't think highly of 'socialism' to begin.

Well, since you ask... Davies is an Islamist, not a socialist. Guerre de Classe/antiwar/Třídní válka doesn't care what sources they use as long as it is anti-PYD, and they don't bother to fact check as long as the claim is anti-PYD.

Ben Davies wrote:
“Islamists” (bar one or two groups with clearly questionable strategies) are the only ones that will save Syria. In other words, the Islamic groups that won’t sell their struggle or their country for a handful of US dollars, Turkish tanks or token small arms.

Syria’s Enemies Are No Longer Hidden, Internal Or External

The "questionable strategy" he links to is about Ahrar al-Sham potentially being involved in Turkey's incursion "Euphrates Shield".


Caption: تضامن يا أنصار الله. إن شاء الله مصر قريبا.
Solidarity O Ansar Allah. God willing, Egypt soon.

#الاسلام #الاسلامية #سوريا #سوري #حمصي #حلبي #سوريا_حرة #جيش_السوري_الحر #الثورة #حرية
# # # Islamist Islam Syria Syrian # # # Homsi Halabi # Soeria_hrh Jeic_alsora_ahar # # # Freedom Revolution

#selfie #FreeSyria #EnoughWithAssad #solidarity #freedom
Source: Ben Davies tumblr

Ben Davies wrote:
there’s nothing wrong with “Islamists” unless you’re referring to extremists like Da’esh. Being a normal Muslim who wants your country to be run on Islamic principles is NOT a bad thing.

Ben Davies comment on "Chameleons of Rojava", Unfettered Freedom, September 29, 2016 at 1:11 am

Ben Davies wrote:
I know people who are part-Kurdish. I’m a Muslim; there’s no racism in Islam. If you’re a Muslim and you think people are racially superior then you need to sort your life out. In regard to my funding, I take no funding from anyone. The most I get in terms of funding is having been paid for a single news article in February of 2016.

If you read my recent pieces, you would know that I’m not at all friendly to Erdogan either. Erdogan is a hypocrite who murders Muslims and allies with imperialist powers like the US and Russia while feigning Islamic credentials. I recommend you read “Syria’s Enemies Are No Longer Hidden”, in which I implicate Erdogan in deliberately helping to compromise Aleppo’s defences in order to let the city starve.

Ben Davies comment on "Chameleons of Rojava", Unfettered Freedom, September 29, 2016 at 1:14 am

Erdgoan isn't Islamist enough for him because Erdogan't launched an incursion against Daesh in Jarabulus and al-Rai and pulled rebel fighters from Aleppo city to do it. Davies is criticizing Erdogan as not Islamic enough because Turkey is backing a rebel FSA/Islamist campaign along the border with Turkey rather than at this very moment fighting Assad in Aleppo city.

(LOL! One of my friends is part-Kurdish! See, I can't be racist!)

He also believes "There was never persecution of minorities in Islamic systems...The Prophet created an ideal system, and the caliphates afterward continued it."

Bonus: He's also an apologist for the Taliban.

Ben Davies wrote:
The Taliban movement began as a movement to punish child-raping warlords, hanging them and driving them from their fiefdoms. The Taliban started out with as few as 30 men, but rose to prominence and popularity because of their Islamic principles and refusal to tolerate paedophiles. Now the US has brought those same warlords back into power. An uncomfortable truth that has not got unnoticed by the Afghan population...

The Taliban don’t come from outer space. This group isn’t mutually exclusive to the Afghan people. The Taliban are anything but; they are local men drawn from villages and towns across the country. Men join them because their country is occupied by foreign powers that have installed child molesters in positions of power, dissolving the Islamic system (an affront to a devout population) and indiscriminately killing civilians.

In contrast to the conduct of the government, the Taliban strictly forbade looting and killing when they took over Kunduz in 2015. Although traditionally viewed in the west as racist Pashtun fighters seeking to marginalise Afghanistan’s other ethnic groups, the Taliban fight alongside a patchwork of different ethnic groups which includes Arab and Turkistani fighters.

The Coming Collapse of the Afghan “Government”, Ben Davies, Unfettered Freedom, Septenber, 28, 2016


Meet Ben Allinson-Davies, the British student interrogated for his support of the Free Syrian Army, ISABELLA ECKERT,The Tab, 2014/04/11

The main point of the article seems to be to criticize the YPG for its action east of Afrin in early 2016. I discuss that as a comment here. I've also written about it on these forums.

There are a lot of other points I will raise. The article is rather long and the approach of the author is to throw shit at the wall and hope something sticks. Its tedious.

Flint
Oct 6 2016 00:44
Ben Davies wrote:
"When the uprising began in March 2011 the PKK was initially supportive of the anti-government rising. Anti-Assad activists were interviewed on the PKK’s RojTV, given over to Syrian opposition use. Known opposition figures such as Abdulrazak Eid, Haytham Manna, Fayez Sara, Hassan Abdul Azim and Yassin al-Haj Saleh were interviewed. The PKK also encouraged Syrians to rise up and stage demonstrations.

Haytham Manna went on to become the co-chair of the Syrian Democratic Council the political organization of the Syrian Democratic Forces which was created by TEV-DEM and the PYD. That was before Davies wrote this hatchet job. Manna is leader of the Law–Citizenship–Rights Movement (Wheat Wave Movement/Teyar El-Qemih/QMH). QMH has three seats in the Syrian Democratic Council. One of the QMH representatives in the SDC is Macid Hebo, who recently was a founder of the Syrian National Resistance, a group opposed to Turkey's incursion into Syria that uses obvious Syrian Democratic Forces imagery.


Syrian National Resistance


Kino Gabriel (Syriac Military Council/MFS), Colonel Tala Selo, Haytham Manna with Ilham Ahmed and members of the Syrian Democratic Forces, March 4, 2016, Heysem Menna Rojava’da: “Cenevre’den çözümün çıkacağından kuşkuluyum” / Haytham Menna in Rojava: "I doubt it will be the solution from Geneva"


Ilham Ahmed and Flint, October 8, 2015

Manna also formed the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change with Hassan Abdul Azim. The NCBDC also included the PYD and the Syriac Union Party--the two parties that founded Rojava's TEV-DEM. The NCBDC also included the Democratic Socialist Arab Ba'ath Party which has a seat in the Syrian Democratic Council.

Ben Davies wrote:
"The one-time leader of the Syrian National Council was Kurdish politician Abdulbaset Sieda. Even the Da’esh attack on Kobane was led by a Kurd."

The one-time leader of the Syrian National Council was Arab politician Ahmed Jarba and the political party he leads Syria's Tomorrow Movement and its militia have now joined Rojava.


Ahmed Jarba, head of the Al-Ghad Front, shakes hands with Rojava envoy Aldar Khalil in Cairo. September 13, 2016

As to Abdulbaset Sieda, he has "joined the ranks of the enemies of Kurdish people" when he refused to walk out of the SNC in March when the other Kurdish parties left. A representative of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Syria accused him of "following the Turkish agenda" and said he "represents only himself". The KDPS is a rival of the PYD.

Ben Davies wrote:
"Popular Kurdish opposition leader Mashaal Tammo had already been assassinated in suspicious circumstances in October 2011 as he organised an anti-regime coalition."

The implication Davies is making here is that the PYD killed Tammo. However:
"in October 2012, Saudi-owned TV channel Al-Arabiya published documents allegedly proving that Bashar al-Assad himself had engaged the Air Force Intelligence Directorate to assassinate Tammo"

Flint
Oct 8 2016 18:32
Ben Davies wrote:
"the Assyrian Khabour Guards nullified their alliance with the YPG. In a statement they claimed the group turned on them, killing their commander and trying to drive them out of their villages."

David Jendo/Daoud Gendo being honored as a martyr by Syriac Military Council (MFS) and the Khabour Guards.

I've written about the Jendo murder before on Libcom forums. Noone seemed particularly interested in discussing it, but I think it was an important event.

The murderers of David Jendo were turned over by the YPG to the Cizre Canton courts. The murderers were found guilty and sentenced to imprisonment for 20 years for the 2 killers, 4 years and 1 year for the 2 other accomplices.

People’s defense Court issued its final judgment in the case of the killing of the citizen Jendo

Jazira canton's human rights commission said the trial was fair, opened to public & independent orgs

ANF News wrote:
"CPFE continued by responding another allegation that “YPG militia killed David Jendo, the commander of the Assyrian Khabour village guards, in April this year. The guards were established to defend the Khabur villages from ISIS.” The Foundation said those who killed David Jendo got between 12 and 20 years sentences."

Christian Political Foundation denies AINA allegations against YPG, ANF News, Nov 9, 2015

Christian Political Foundation for Europe (CPFE) is a Christian Democrat group with no particular tie to Rojava, Kurds, KCK, or even the SUP/MFS or the European Syriac Union.


MFS putting images of martyrs. David Jendo in the top right corner.
Rojava News, October 6, 2016

The YPG has not driven the Khabour Guards or Assyrians out of their villages. The Khabour Guards have not been dissolved. The Khabour Guards were recently observed in uniform raising a cross ontop of Mar Zayya Church in Tell Gorãn, Hasakah. Recently, during the SDF's "Wrath of Khabour" Operation to seize ash-Shaddadi, Khabour Guards joined the SDF, fought under SDF banners as part of the campaign.

The PYD has a strong alliance with the Syriac Union Party. Together, they formed TEV-DEM. Syriac Union Party, the Syriac National Council and the Assyrian Democratic Party all have representatives in the Syrian Democratic Council. The Vice-President of the Cizre/Gozarto/Hasakah Canton is a Syriac--Elizabeth Gawrie. The Syriac Military Council (MFS) is part of both the Syrian Democratic Forces. The SUP has its own police force for Syriac/Christian villages and neighborhoods in Gozarto Canton called Sutoro.

As part of TEV-DEM's emphasis on Mother Tongue education, The Rojava Administration will provide education in Syriac
.

ANHA wrote:
"50 teachers are getting ready now to teach Syriac syllabus in Jazeera canton schools... Pedagogy Body has opened in Jazeera canton the first institute for preparing teachers of Syriac syllabuses in Qamishlo city in preparation for giving them in the official schools this year, 2016-2017. A 3-month summer courses of training were given to 50 teachers, who are supposed to be distributed to Syriac schools. The Pedagogy Body is seeking opening other similar institutes in the city of Derek and Hasake where the Syriacs live.

"The first 3 grades to be taught in Syriac language

"Teachers graduated from Orhi institute will be distributed on schools of Sere Kaniye, Tirbe sipi, Hasake, Rimelan and Qamishlo.

"During the next term, these syllabuses will be given in the first 3 elementary grades, while the Syriac language will be given as a basic course in other elementary schools...

"Lorina concluded that the Baathist regime has deprived them of learning their mother language, and giving syllabuses in Syriac at this time will be a historic step."

Video.

Flint
Oct 6 2016 00:25
Ben Davies wrote:
"One Amnesty report claimed the Arab-populated village of Husseiniya had seen more than 90% of its buildings demolished by the YPG to ensure that residents couldn’t return."

I've written about the Amnesty International report on Libcom before and I recall there was a lot of discussion about it.

You can read the Full Amnesty International Report here. I suggest reading it in its entirety, not just reading a headline or soundbite. If you are curious, I can even show you were most of the villages mentioned are. AI was very specific with their choice of words and did not claim the YPG was conducting ethnic cleansing. I extracted some of the details of the report here. Not just the village of Husseinya but also the village of Asaylem (35km south of Suluk) had a demolition of 100 of 103 homes. These are the two largest incidents reported on by AI. In comparison, the SDF/YPG has liberated hundreds of villages and significant towns from Daesh and not displaced residents or destroyed homes.

Ben Davies wrote:
"Spokesman for the Syria’s Turkmen minority Tarik Sulo also complained bitterly of his people facing displacement"

In contrast, the Spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces is Colonel Talal Selo, a Turkman. He is also commander of the Seljuk Turkmen Brigade. During the Jarabulus offensive (2016) the Seljuq Brigade in Manbij said that they will join the fight against Turkey and allied rebel forces with the Jarabulus Military Council.


Colonel Tala Selo, Seljuk Turkmen Brigade, Spox of the Syrian Democratic Forces

Also, the president of the Syrian Turkmen Assembly downplayed accusations of displacement by the YPG:

al-Monitor: wrote:
"The president of the Syrian Turkmen Assembly, Abdurrahman Mustafa, told Al-Monitor there were no Kurds in Hammam Turkmen, where Turkmens of Tell Abyad lived and a limited number of Turkmen refugees had come to the border to escape IS threats, air raids and clashes. Turkmens who took refuge in Kilis were escaping from the clashes between IS and the Islamic Front. Syrian Kurdish journalist Barzani Izo, who is in the area of the clashes, said Turkmen villages are not controlled by the YPG. He said, “The YPG could not even get the Kurds who had left the region earlier to return to their own homes. Where are they going to find Kurds to settle in Turkmen homes? There is not a single example to prove this allegation.”

Erdogan fears fall of Syria's Tell Abyad, Fehim Taştekin, al-Monitor, June 14, 2015

The largest case of Turkmen displacement documented by Amnesty International was in Hammam al-Turkman

AI wrote:
"1,400 Turkmen families in the village along with 10 Kurdish families... approximately 1,000 homes in the village..."

There were skirmishes and 2 VBIED attacks after the YPG took the village. After those attacks, the YPG temporarily emptied the village.

AI wrote:
"18 June killing a YPG fighter and injuring one civilian and three days later IS shot and killed a second YPG fighter near the clinic. It was after the death of this fighter that the residents were told by the YPG that they had to leave the village... After extensive negotiations, Farid explained that 50% of the residents were finally able to return home on 17 August 2015."

In May 2016, it was announced that "Rojava adm. to open a Cultural center in Hammam Turkmen village to preserve Turkmen history, culture and language."
Here is a longer article in Kurdish about about the Turkmen Cultural Center: Tirkmen cara yekemîn wê bi zimanê xwe perwerde bibin

Flint
Oct 8 2016 18:52

And for those who are really into tracking what different Arab opposition leaders think about the PYD...

Yassin al-Haj Saleh wrote:
This is the main cause of the Turkish government’s biggest mistakes in Syria. Turkey has not been able to deal with its own Kurdish problem on a basis of equality, freedom and fraternity. Just now, there is a real war in the Kurdish regions in Turkey, with poor people being humiliated, displaced and killed. To Syria, the Turkish government exported its bad experience in dealing with the Kurds. And to make things worse, the Syrian PYD imported from Turkey its experience there, people to apply this experience, and with spades of the modernist ideological rubbish, designed specifically to enchant middle class left-wing spinsters (mostly males) in the West. This has already caused a lot of suffering, and I am afraid it will only cause more. What we are witnessing is, in my view, the building of an ultranationalist, one-party system, with hidden connections to the Assad regime and Iran, and less hidden ones with the US and Russia."

"Syria is a unique symbol of injustice, apathy and amnesia", Yassin al-Haj Saleh, The Chronikler, 20 January 2016

I imagine that sort of position has not encouraged an invitation to the Syrian Democratic Council

Western mostly male middle class left-wing spinsters are a very important group to appeal to if you want to succeed in the Syrian Civil War! tongue

Flint
Oct 5 2016 22:50
baboon wrote:
I'm not entirely au fait with the latest military placements, but I don't think that there are any Kurdish forces in Aleppo, certainly not in the firing line - which looks to be just about anywhere the Russians and the Syrian regime decides.

For the entire war, the YPG has been in control of Şêx Meqsûd / Sheikh Maqsood neighborhood. I've written about it extensively here on the libcom forums. It has taken in thousands of refugees from Aleppo city, but thousands have also fled Şêx Meqsûd such as many Kurds leaving the neighborhood for a safer position in the Afrin canton.

Quote:
Leafing through the residential records, he told Al-Monitor, “Around 90,000 people from diverse religions and races live in Sheikh Maksoud. More than half of the residents are displaced people seeking security. Our doors are open to everyone.. “Around two months ago, the population in the neighborhood reached 120,000, but recently, many were displaced outside Aleppo to flee the blockade,” Daoud added.”

Aleppo's displaced find refuge in Kurdish regions, February, 2015

Sheikh Maqsood is sometimes called "the 4th Canton".

Şêx Meqsûd is about 12.5 kilometers from Afrin SDF/YPG's front line in Tall Qarah. It is currently mostly Daesh and Assad loyalists that separate them. At the moment, SDF can't reach Şêx Meqsûd without crossing through territory that Assad loyalists hold. The most narrow bit of which is along Castello road.

It has an advantageous elevated position over much of the city and particularly over looks Castello Road ("the roman road", 214) which both rebels and Baathists see as a strategic supply line. The recent failed cease fire called for Castello road to become a demilitarized zone for the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Baathist besieged rebel held eastern Aleppo. Jabhat al-Nusra supporters and some FSA supporters organized a demonstration against that humanitarian aid. Then either Russia/Assad, the U.S. or rebels (the best guess seems to be Assad) attacked and destroyed the humanitarian aid convoy.

Spikymike wrote:
Given the more recent Turkish military intervention in Syria and the increased bombing and shelling of 'rebel' forces in eastern Aleppo and the history of shifting alliances between the Kurdish PYD/YPG and other global and regional players where has this left the Kurdish controlled area of Aleppo - are they also being bombed by Assad and Russian air forces?

If you mean Aleppo city, then it gets attacked by different rebel groups, sometimes small arms, sometimes artillery like "hell cannons". Plenty of videos on youtube about it. There have also sometimes been Assad airforce bombs that hit the neighborhood, but rebel groups are the primary aggressors against the neighborhood. Russia hasn't bombed the neighborhood.

For the rest of Aleppo Governorate that includes the Afrin and Kobani cantons. Assad largely does not attacked either canton. Russia hasn't attacked either canton. Rebels and Daesh attack them. Turkey shells all three cantons.

The official political difference between Assad and Russia relates to Rojava. Assad wants total dictatorial control over all Syria. Russia has said its fine with a political solution and federalism particularly in regards to Rojava. Russia has avoided attacking Rojava. During the recent fight over the control of Hasakah, Russia did not intervene on Assad loyalist behalf and it is rumored that they were involved in the cease fire that seceded most of the Assad loyalist holdings in Hasakah to SDF.

Flint
Oct 5 2016 22:38
Ben Davies wrote:
In 2013 YPG leader Salih Muslim said that Arabs in lands they deemed to be Kurdish “will have to be expelled” because “all the villages” there belong to the Kurds. The reference to all the villages can now be understood in the aftermath of the takeover of villages with little to no Kurd inhabitants.

This quote has been discussed on libcom before.

The pro-KDP/anti-PYD Rudaw is taking that quote out of context.

Wladimir van Wilgenburg wrote:
PYD leader Salih Muslim outlined a clearer Arab policy in a recent interview, saying that the PYD’s militias would fight against jihadi groups, but would not force out local Arabs, whether settlers or native Arabs:

"There are three sorts of Arabs among us: there are those with whom we have always lived and who we have fought alongside. We defend the brotherhood between these peoples. There are those who do not belong, Arabs who came from outside, other countries or the region, the jihadists who have burned our homes, and decapitated Kurds. Finally, there are the Arabs who were moved to Kurdistan by force by [former Syrian President] Hafez al-Assad ... to Arabize the region. They are victims ... and we advocate a peaceful solution for these populations. Those who can return to their hometowns should do so and the others can live in peace with the Kurds" (AFP December 2).

Kurdish Strategy Towards Ethnically-Mixed Areas in the Syrian Conflict, Wladimir van Wilgenburg, Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 11 Issue: 23, December 13, 2013 10:35 AM

The above quote is printed in the AFP just 6 days after the Rudaw article. So consider it a direct clarification/refutation of the Rudaw quote.

Wilgenburg's entire article is well worth reading. Also, relationships between the PYD and many Arabs has improved since 2013. TEV-DEM's Project for a Democratic Syria clearly describes a multi-ethnic polity. The Syrian Democratic Council is carefully balanced in regards to ethnicity. Increasingly, Arabs make up an increasing share of the Syrian Democratic Forces.

I think there are many valid criticisms that can be made of the PYD, but ethnic cleansing isn't one of them.

Flint
Oct 6 2016 15:32
Ben Davies wrote:
Western reluctance to arm anti-Assad forces in case weapons fall into the “wrong hands” hasn’t applied in the case of the YPG, which has repeatedly given US arms to its counterpart in Turkey. This has included German anti-tank missiles and drones.

This bit is just hilarious. The U.S. has supplied a number of TOW anti-tank missiles and other weapons to various anti-Assad forces.

Youtube playlist with 180 videos of U.S. made TOW anti-tank missiles used by CIA-vetted opposition. See, to get more TOWs, they have to record videos of how they are using them. Which has made TOW videos on youtube a thing.

The YPG and SDF don't get anti-tank weapons, though they do benefit from air strikes against Daesh by the U.S. Some French and U.S. Special Forces (about 300 involved in the Mabij campaign) are armed with anti-tank weapons. YPG isn't getting anti-tank or anti-aircraft weapons, and they aren't then giving them to the HPG(PKK) or YPS in Turkey. The one helicopter the HPG shotdown in Turkey was done with a Russian weapon. The HPG hasn't existed as a guerrilla group for almost 40 years without finding ways to smuggle weapons.

Most U.S. armament of the YPG so far has gone through "Arabs in the SDF". Thats pretty much just optics. But the arms have been limited to small arms and ammunition for them. There was only a couple of pallets at the battle of Kobane. It increased for the Ash Shaddadi, Tishrin and Manbij campaigns. Manbij was the largest coordination and commitment from the U.S. to the SDF so far.

Germany doesn't arm the SDF/YPG. They do arm the KRG Peshmerga (KDP and PUK). Some PUK Peshmerga arms probably have made their way into the hands of the YPG.


YPG fighter with a Milan anti-tank missile
Source


YPG released photo from the siege of Kobane of Milan anti-tank missile, probably in the hands of a KRG Peshnmerga heavy weapons squad
source

Al Jazeera wrote:
Iraqi peshmerga fighters have begun entering the Syrian border town of Kobane where they were expected to join the battle against Islamic State and the Levant (ISIL) fighters beseiging the town. Peshmerga forces entered through the Yumurtalik crossing on Friday armed with heavy weaponry, including anti-aircraft machine guns and mobile rocket launchers.

Iraqi peshmerga fighters cross into Kobane, Al Jazeera, 1 NOVEMBER 2014


KRG Peshmerga with Milan anti-tank missile, probably from Germany
Source

There were PUK Peshmerga elite troops from Dizha Terror (Counter Terror) unit with the SDF in the Manbij campaign.

Source


An earlier arms delivery from PUK Peshmerga Dizha Terror to the YPG (back when the YPG was still using the red patch, and its an older DT patch too)

Source

jesuithitsquad
Oct 6 2016 06:22

fwiw--with such a complicated situation, so much misinformation and active attempts at disinformation, i--for one--am very grateful for your contributions, Flint.

Flint
Oct 6 2016 11:39

You're welcome. It is a very complicated war.

AndrewF
Oct 6 2016 11:44

Thanks a lot for this Flint, the sheer length and 'throw mud at the wall and see what sticks' methodology of these c'critiques' exhausts me, its great you somehow still have the patience to pick them apart.

Flint
Oct 6 2016 14:18
Blesk wrote:
All my congratulations to the “proto-state” Rojava that allows thus the murderers of US Air force.

"Member for 1 day 22 hours"

Hi there, new user! Welcome to Libcom! Unless you are a sock puppet. The U.S. airforce has been coordinating with the YPG since the battle of Kobane as of September 27, 2014. This is not news unless you have been living in a cave. Actually, quite a number of people living in caves know about it..

Flint
Oct 7 2016 13:18

Flint
Oct 7 2016 17:13

(removed)

WithDefiance
Oct 7 2016 21:39

Thanks Flint for your efforts to counter disinformation. Why is this bullshit even on the frontpage of LibCom. Though I think its important to stay critical, we also must also make clear efforts to counter misinformation.

Ed
Oct 7 2016 22:21

Thanks Flint for the heads up on this dubious Ben Davies character; article removed from front page. Was going to remove the article in its entirety but you've now posted lots of info below it so don't want that to be wasted. Will just change the intro to mention issues with author.

As an aside, I asked you a question a while ago that I don't think you responded to: basically, with the UK voting for more airstrikes in Syria, I (and most lefties) opposed it on the grounds of it being yet more Western involvement in a war in the Middle East. But where does this leave the YPG? Don't they want/rely on heavy Western involvement? Where does that leave pro-YPG and anti-war movements?

mikail firtinaci
Oct 8 2016 14:05
Quote:
Where does that leave pro-YPG and anti-war movements?

Obviously in the same camp with the NATO minus Turkey...

potrokin
Oct 11 2016 22:38

Well I feel stupid- just goes to show that you shouldn't just automatically believe everything you read. Thankyou for straightening things out Flint.

altemark
Oct 12 2016 20:16

Thanks for your informed posting, Flint.

baboon
Oct 14 2016 12:27

A September 2014 exchange of e-mails between Hillary Clinton and her campaign manager, John Podesta (a counsellor for Obama) released by wikileaks this week, shows confirmation that Isis is funded by US allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar with further support from "western and US intelligence agencies". So much for the "lesser evil" argument above.

The document calls for increased support for the Iraqi Peshmerga forces, pointing to the Kurdish militia's "long-standing relationship with CIA and special (US) forces".

Clearly the YPG falls into elements supported, trained and armed by US imperialism (along with the British and French), which is further supported and cheered on by some anarchist elements on this thread above.

Blesk
Oct 25 2016 15:43

Thanks to Flint, everybody here know what is allowed to be read and what is not.
So let's devote our precious time to believe in the propaganda of PKK, PYD, YPG, SDF, etc., those who are the only ones to say the truth.
But let's nevertheless have a last and final deviation, just for fun:

Syria's Kurds Are Contemplating an Aleppo Alliance with Assad and Russia
by Fabrice Balanche
October 7, 2015

http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/syrias-kurds-are-contemplating-an-aleppo-alliance-with-assad-and-russia

Quote:
The PYD will not hesitate to cooperate with Damascus and Moscow in the north if Turkey and the United States continue prohibiting the unification of Kurdish enclaves.
[...]
Currently, the Syrian army still controls a third of Aleppo, which is connected to the rest of the government-controlled zone by a narrow road. But this corridor is being squeezed by the Daesh/ISIS on the east and al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra on the west. To win the battle for Aleppo, Assad will therefore need to cooperate with the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the Syrian franchise of the Turkish Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The PYD is eager to connect its cantons around Kobane and Afrin and open a corridor to Sheikh Maqsoud, the Kurdish district of Aleppo. An October 1 al-Monitor interview with PYD leader Salih Muslim suggests that the group may be seeking a strategic alliance with Assad and Russia in order to achieve that goal.

Okay, okay, nothing very new in these affirmation published one year ago.
Just to point out the strategy of our beloved "Rojava Revolution" partisans.
May their partners of Russian and Syrian Air forces continue to bomb rebel districts of Aleppo.