A former Pentagon official called on the US government on Friday to delist the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and tell Turkey that the age of ethnic incitement is over.
Analyst Michael Rubin, in an article published in the Washington Examiner, referred to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken who promised last month, following a meeting with his Turkish counterpart, “close coordination and collaboration in the efforts to fight against terrorist organisations” such as the Islamic State (ISIS) and the PKK.
“This might be boilerplate diplomatic language, but it hides a logical problem: The defeat of ISIS and the PKK are mutually exclusive. Syrian Kurds sacrificed more than 12,000 men and women to fight ISIS at a time when Turkey and its Syrian proxies supported the group,” wrote Rubin, who is now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a centre-right US think-tank.
“Still, whether in Syria or Sweden, Turkey makes supposed Western tolerance of the PKK original sin,” continued Rubin, referring to Turkey’s threats to veto NATO’s Nordic expansion over Sweden’s and Finland’s tolerance to the PKK and other groups Ankara designates as terrorist organisations.
The analyst said instead of indulging Ankara, Washington should stop pretending that Syrian Kurds, which Turkey sees as a national security threat linked to the PKK, are anything but allies in the war against terror and the fight for democracy.
Rubin recalled that the State Department did not designate the PKK as a terror group during the height of its violence during the 1980s. That designation came later when President Bill Clinton wanted to clinch a multibillion-dollar weapons deal with Turkey.
Peace will not be possible if Washington embraces the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s hatred for the PKK and diplomacy means more than making opponents happy, added Rubin.
“It is time for a major course correction in US policy in the Eastern Mediterranean” said the analyst, arguing that for a new peaceful order, Washington should recognise the Syrian Kurds as its best ally in the region and stop succumbing to Ankara’s blackmail over the PKK.
“Rip the Band-Aid off. Delist the PKK. Reward allies. Be a peacemaker. Tell Turkey the age of ethnic incitement is over,” Robin concluded.