Tuesday, May 30, 2017

US has started to provide weapons to the Kurds in Syria.

A YPG fighter stands in front of a picture of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Reuters. 

The United States has begun to provide weapons and vehicles to Kurdish forces fighting ISIS in Syria. Reuters. The move will likely anger Turkey who considers the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) as an extension of the communist PKK terrorist group. Turkey has not reacted to the situation yet. Spokespeople have said that the Kurds have received small arms in the past 24 hours. The United States considers the Kurds to be a crucial ally in the war against ISIS and a key player in the battle to liberate the ISIS capital of Raqqa. In an effort to placate the Turks, the United States has suggested sharing information about the PKK with them, but it is unclear if the Turks will be placated because of it. 

My Comment:
There is an obvious reason for why this is happening now. Apparently, our allies are at the very gates of Raqqa right now. According to this report from AP, our allies are only 2 miles away from the de facto capital of the Islamic State. 

The battle for Raqqa will be the most crucial in the war. It will be bigger than the battle of Mosul, which ISIS is currently losing. It will be bigger than when they lost the battle for Dabiq, which has huge religious and prophetic importance for Muslims. Losing Raqqa will rob ISIS of their legitimacy and will force them into a new phase of the war where they no longer a state but a terrorist organization on the run and underground. 

It's a crucial battle and the Kurds and their Arab rebel allies need every advantage they could get. Will these weapons and vehicles help? I think they will make a difference. The Kurds have to be running out of weapons and they are going to need a lot of support to take ISIS on in their capital. The vehicles will also help to resupply front line units and evacuate the wounded.

It's unclear what kind of weapons the Kurds are getting. The article said small arms so that probably just means rifles. I doubt they are getting anything heavier than that, such as anti-tank rockets or heavy artillery. I think Trump learned the lessons of the Obama administration and realizes how dangerous it is to give rebel groups weapons that could fall out of their hands. Especially with the threat of the PKK.

This move will probably infuriate the Turks. Their hatred of the Kurds goes beyond the actions of the PKK terrorist group. They consider the possibility of an independent Kurdistan to be an existential threat to the survival of the Turkish state. They don't believe in multiculturalism and consider the Kurds to be a huge threat because they practice their own culture. 

And I think their anger is understandable. The YPG and PKK are somewhat close and it is very hard to tell them apart. In ordinary circumstances I wouldn't be happy with giving either group arms due to their leftist political beliefs. And if these arms do end up being used against the Turks they will be understandably furious. 

On the other hand, I don't really care what the Turks think anymore. Tayyip Erdogan has gone off the deep end and has even threatened fellow NATO allies due to their opposition to his government campaigning in their countries for a giant power grab referendum. Turkey was also a very bad ally against ISIS for much of the war. Sure, after they became victims of ISIS terror attacks, they clamped down, invaded Syria and shut down the border, but that doesn't make up for the fact that they let ISIS get away with a lot for a long time. The main corridor for ISIS fighters flooding into Syria and ISIS oil flowing out was always Turkey... 

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