Turkish pro-gov’t media welcomes Washington’s PKK-YPG-link in Florida man arrest

The arrest of a Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG)-linked U.S. national in Florida and the subsequent reference by Washington to the YPG as a  “sub-affiliate’’ of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has been met with enthusiasm by Turkey’s pro-government media.

U.S. federal law enforcement agents on Friday arrested a Florida man linked to the YPG - a U.S.-backed group on Turkey’s terror list - on charges of attempting to organize an armed response to pro-President Donald Trump protesters,CBS reported.

Tallahassee resident Daniel Baker is accused of issuing a “call to arms” on social media to recruit people in a plot to create an armed circle around protesters at theFlorida Capitol Building, it said.

A military veteran, Baker joined the YPG in Syria in the U.S.-led fight against the Islamic State (ISIS), the U.S. Department of Justice said, citing the veteran’s claimon social media that he was a trained sniper for the YPG.

“The YPG is a sub-affiliate of the Kurdistan’s Working Party (PKK), which is designated by the United States government as a Foreign Terrorist Organization,’’ the U.S. Department of Justice went on to say, in a deviation from Washington's outlook on the Syrian Kurdish group it has long-backed.

The YPG is one of a string of issues causing tension in Ankara-Washington relations.

The Kurdish-majority YPG militia has played a vital role in the U.S.-led coalition’s ground operations against ISIS. But Turkey views the YPG as a PKK offshoot– thus a threat to national security – and has conducted three campaigns into Syria to push the group south from the Turkish-Syrian border region. 

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency covered Washington’s reference to the YPG as a PKK affiliate, saying the“acknowledgement’’ arrives amid mass demonstrations this weekend in U.S. state capitols across the country to protest the results of the presidential election. 

The U.S. Department of Justice’s statement contains striking remarks on how correct Turkey’s stance on the YPG is,  state-run TRT journalist Ahmet Görmez said on Twitter, while pointing to information shared on Baker in the criminal complaint filed against him. 

The Baker file is an important step in “unveiling the truth upheld by Ankara for years’’ about the ties between the PKK and YPG, Görmez said, noting that the case against the U.S. veteran will be followed closely in Turkey. 

The U.S.-backed YPG, which Washington has labelled freedom fighting movement, has with the arrest of Baker ``conveniently been called a terror organisation,’’ by the United States, Turkish security expert and author Abdullah Ağar said on Twitter.

Washington’s latest take on the YPG “is good news for Turkey, but bad news for those backing a support policy for the group,’’ pro-government media figure Bora Bayraktar, who briefly served CNNTürk as a general manager, said on Twitter.

The FBI and the U.S. Justice Ministry have, through the criminal complaint against Baker, recorded at a federal level the tie between the PKK and the YPG, according to Bayraktar.

The YPG-linked suspect at the heart of Turkish pro-government media’s rejoice is set to appear in court for a detention hearing on Jan. 21.

Turkish Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun had told U.S. ambassador to Ankara David Satterfield last summer during the Black Lives Matter protests that the Antifa movement in the United States had acted with the YPG in Syria.

During the U.S. protests, Trump blamed Antifa for inciting the protests and the Turkish government offered a new angle to support the Trump doctrine over the cause of the protests.

The Turkish offer did not go anywhere, and was soon forgotten.