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Is the U.S. Ready to Back a Kurdistan?

In late September, Saleh Muslim, co-chair of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), said in a press conference in Kobani that there are no obstacles to cooperation between the PYD military wing known as People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Iraqi Kurdistan Peshmerga forces. The statement came after Muslim met Iraqi Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani to discuss the necessity of tight political and military coordination between Iraqi and Syrian Kurds. According to the local media, the meeting between the two leaders and discussion of upcoming integration was held in the presence of the U.S. military and diplomats.

It is well known that the U.S., for quite a long time, has been deeply involved in Iraqi/Kurdish issues, including the military training of Peshmerga forces.

Now Washington has turned its attention to Syrian Kurds in order to use them against the forces of Bashar al-Asad and Islamic State cells in Syria. To these ends, the U.S. Special Forces have prepared several thousand Kurdish YPG fighters in training camps in Iraqi Kurdistan.

According to sources in Erbil and Kobane, the creation and trial by fire of the ‘Kurdish corps’ could be followed by other steps to establish a Kurdish entity in north Syria. Syrian Kurds believe, and with good reason, that U.S. assistance will inevitably lead to Kurdish sovereignty. The United States also considers this a valid option, exclusively based on the condition of loyalty from Barzani and Muslim in addition to active combat participation against the Syrian Arab Army and IS fighters.

Obviously Turkey doesn’t welcome Washington’s approach and interprets military and technical assistance to Syrian Kurds as a serious threat. During his speech to the UN General Assembly, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmed Davoutoğlu stressed that PDE was a terrorist organization and must be banned like the PKK. Ankara’s message is clear: the White House should refrain from double standards in dealing with its NATO ally and traditional partner in the region.