Turkey’s security concerns over Syria Kurds baseless - opinion

Turkey’s security concerns in Syria over links between Kurdish-led People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) are not legitimate, said Kurdish journalist and writer Daryaous Darwish in an article for the Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.

Turkey this month launched a military operation in northern Syria against the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and its affiliate, the YPG. Turkey ended offensive operations last week after it agreed with Russia agreed on a deal that included the SDF withdrawal from territories near the Turkish border. 

Darwish said Turkey’s security concerns were baseless and the SDF and YPG had repeatedly denied links to the PKK and had taken real practical steps to distance themselves from the armed group that has been fighting inside Turkey for more than three decades. 

“The only clue that Turkey could came up with was that PYD and YPG are raising pictures of Abdullah Öcalan, a Kurdish leader and one of the founders of the PKK, and adopting his ideology,” Darwish said. 

After PKK leader Öcalan was captured and imprisoned by Turkey in 1999, he became a symbol, a Kurdish “Mandela” who is respected for his struggle to ensure the freedom of Kurds, the journalist said.

Kurds have also praised Sheikh Saeed, a religious leader who led a revolt against the Turkish government in 1925, as well as the late Iraqi Kurdish leaders Mustafa Barzani and Jalal Talabani, and Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou, an Iranian Kurdish leader assassinated in Vienna in 1989.

The journalist said Öcalan had also criticised guerrilla tactics since he had been imprisoned and had vigorously defended a peaceful resolution of Turkey’s Kurdish conflict. 

“The principles that Öcalan is defending are peace, coexistence and democracy, which are universal principles in the possession of every political party willing to adopt them,” Darwish said. “It will be a great shame to turn such ideology into a pretext for Turkish security concerns, echoing Turkish official propaganda.”

“Instead, tell Turkey what she wants to hear rather than what she must hear: There has been not a single attack on Turkish soil that originated from Kurdish regions in Syria, so Turkey has no legitimate security concerns,” he said.