Antony J. Blinken, former Deputy Secretary of State in the Obama administration, called on Trump to directly arm Syrian Kurds to take Raqqa, regardless of Turkey’s opposition.
However, Blinken also urged President Donald Trump to help Turkey to take al-Bab city in northern Syria and to kill the leadership of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
“The only fighters capable of seizing Raqqa belong to our most effective partner on the ground — the Syrian Democratic Forces, a mixture of Arabs and Kurds dominated by the People’s Protection Units, a Kurdish militia,” Blinken said.
“The S.D.F. can succeed only if it is armed to overcome the Islamic State’s ferocious urban resistance of snipers, suicide bombers and improvised explosive devices,” he said.
The Pentagon is urging president Trump to directly arm the Syrian Kurds, who recently received a small batch of armored vehicles from the US-led coalition.
However, Ankara is vehemently opposed to any form of support to the SDF and the YPG, arguing it would end up in the hands of the PKK.
Blinken, as a deputy secretary of state, spent hours arguing with Turkey over US support to the SDF, with President Obama each time stepping in to engage with Turkish president Erdogan to prevent a breakdown of US-Turkish relations.
“At every juncture — from the liberation of Manbij in northern Syria to the isolation of Raqqa — they protested angrily and threatened repercussions, including denying the international coalition access to Incirlik air base and slowing counterterrorism cooperation,” he wrote.
The former US official argued that president Trump should arm the Kurds, since Raqqa cannot wait to be liberated. “Pushing the pause button in the illusory search for an alternative liberation force more amenable to Turkey would delay any move on Raqqa for months,” Blinken said.
However, he also suggested that armed support to the SDF should be enough to do the job in Raqqa, and the SDF should promise to not use any weapons against Turkey. “We should insist that it commit to not use any weapons against Turkey, to cede liberated Raqqa to local forces, to respect Syria’s territorial integrity and to dissociate itself from the P.K.K,” he wrote.
On 10 January, the SDF released a statement disassociating itself rom the PKK, which was retweeted by US Central Command (CENTCOM) that runs the US-led operations against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
Moreover, Blinken argued that keeping the SDF focused on Raqqa would prevent them from focusing on uniting their three Kurdish cantons in northern Syria into a contiguous Kurdish region or state. “Turkish troops entered Syria to prevent the emergence of such a state. President Trump should clearly reiterate our own opposition to such a development,” he said.
Aldar Xelil, a senior Syrian Kurdish official, on 26 January urged President Trump for support to unite those cantons, which could be used as safe zones. “If the areas between Manbij and Afrin are liberated at the hands of the SDF, they could serve as safe zones to be managed by it’s components,” he argued.
Meanwhile, former Deputy Secretary of State in the Obama administration Blinken said the US should provide strong air support to the Turkish operation to take al-Bab, and also increase support to Turkey to fight the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), including its leadership in Qandil.
Although the Syrian Kurds would most likely welcome more additional arms support, it’s unlikely that the YPG would welcome more support for the Turks in al-Bab, or the targeting of the PKK-leadership.
Foreign volunteers with the YPG also urge the US to support the Kurds, but not Turkey.
“The West needs too arm and support the Kurds to take Raqqa as they are the only people capable of doing it,” Jac Holmes, a Western volunteer with the YPG on the frontlines against ISIS told ARA News.
He added that supporting Turkey to take al-Bab or fight against the PKK would not help, since the Turks are losing ‘hard’ to ISIS in al-Bab.
“Also there is no way the west can physically support Turkey anymore in their fight against the PKK. They already have the most modern equipment and weaponry. Their army and soldiers are just simply not strong enough and not motivated enough to defeat the PKK,” Holmes told ARA News.
“The PKK is an organization of freedom fighters. They will fight for anyone who’s oppressed to help them restore their rights. Turkey doesn’t want the Kurds to be free and to be Kurdish. That is why they claim to be fighting a terrorist organization. It’s not the truth. It’s because of Turkey’s fascist agenda against Kurds and other minorities, that is the reason the PKK even exists,” the Western YPG volunteer said.
“In the meanwhile, Turkey is destroying and enforcing curfews in Kurdish cities in Turkey just because they are Kurds,” Holmes stated. “The West cannot be supporting this behavior. It has nothing to do with fighting the PKK, it’s only about genociding the Kurdish people and destroying their culture,” he concluded.
Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News
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