The U.S. cannot afford to give up on the Kurds - journalist on AhvalTV
London-based journalist and Kurdish expert Abdulla Hawez has said that "the U.S. position is clear, and Washington is determined to support Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and People’s Protection Units (YPG) as the main pillar” in the region.
Hawez, in a conversation with AhvalTV, predicted that U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's visit to Ankara would not change anything and that the U.S. would not give up supporting Syrian Kurdish forces.
"The SDF are the only capable forces on the ground," Hawez said.
The government of Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been angrily asking the U.S. government to halt any and all support to Syrian Kurdish forces, which Ankara sees as "terrorists".
Turkish-led forces recently launched a military operation into Syria's northwestern Kurdish city of Afrin. Senior U.S. officials have called the operation "a distraction" from the wider military campaign against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria.
Hawez argues that "the U.S. is not choosing Syrian Kurds over Turkey" but this is how things have evolved.
"At the beginning, the U.S. really wanted Turkish support against ISIS but Turkey didn't seem like very enthusiastic. Instead, Turkey appeared to see ISIS as a golden opportunity to crush Kurdish aspirations in the region.”
“Then the U.S. discovered Kurds as a willing partner to fight against ISIS and now U.S. sees it is a moral responsibility to support Kurds."
Hawez thinks the Afrin operation, launched almost a month ago by Turkish forces and their Syrian proxies, "is going very slowly. The Turkish forces face very tough resistance from the YPG. The YPG is able to send reinforcements via Assad's roads.”
“Turkey seems not to want to go to the center of Afrin, but appears to be trying to create some kind of belt from the Euphrates Shield to Idlib region."
According to Hawez, the YPG having ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been waging a longstanding conflict inside Turkey and is listed by the United States and European Union as a terrorist organisation, does not mean they should be classified as terrorists themselves.
Hawez argues that the Kurdish issues in the region are very political. "Turkey needs to restart the solution process" with its Kurds, he said.
“However, Turkish authorities keep arresting pro-Kurdish party HDP MPs everyday.” “This issue is at the root is Kurdish issue in Turkey."
Hawez, who is keeping a close eye on Kurds inside various states in the region, argues that "The Kurds are supportive of the YPG in Afrin: even pro-Barzani people are supporting them. They view the Turkish operation as intending to suppress the Kurdish project. Erdoğan's remarks that Afrin's majority is Arab also did not help, because even historically the city has been Kurdish."
In this way, Hawez argued, the Erdoğan factor is uniting Kurds in the region.