No, the Syrian Kurds are not Terrorists

On January 20, Turkey invaded the Kurdish region in northwestern Syria to destroy what it calls the terrorist army. No, it does not fight against ISIS. On the contrary, in the fight against US-backed militia that effectively destroyed the IS last October and helped liberate the city of Raqqa. 

According to Turkey’s increasingly authoritarian president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) are a terrorist organization supported by the United States. That phrase should be enough to make you doubt what Erdogan is selling, but you may not be sure. Few in the West know much about the YPG. Most Americans have not even heard of it. And if all people know that in Syria it’s an armed group that a NATO ally calls a terrorist organization, well … Syria is full of terrorists, right? 

Syria is indeed full of terrorists, but the YPG is one of the few armed groups in the war that adhere to moral Western warfare norms. It is also one of the few factions that are truly pro-Western. The YPG is supported by the Pentagon and 2,000 American soldiers under Washington’s plan to effectively control 28 percent of Syria’s territory so that ISIS can not come back. It consists mainly of ethnic Kurds, although there are Arab, Assyrian and foreign fighters, including women in the women’s protection units. 

They are the armed wing of the Democratic Union Party, which was founded in 2003. Their ideology is not Islamist. It is on the left. In their own words, they represent “social equality, justice and freedom of belief” as well as “pluralism and the freedom of political parties”. They hope to “implement and develop a democratic solution that includes the recognition of cultural, national and political rights” and strengthen their peaceful struggle to govern themselves in a multi-cultural, democratic society.

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