If you pay attention to the Syrian Civil War then you are probably aware the PYD (Democratic Union Party) and its militia the YPG are the most effective force in Syria against ISIS and al-Nusra front. Since the Siege of Kobani we have worked with the YPG to attack ISIS in Syria. They have reclaimed a great deal of territory from ISIS and have started to do so from al-Nusra, but the sheer amount of territory held by the YPG has alarmed Turkey. This has alarmed Turkey because the PYD is a Syrian Kurd political party that is closely affiliated with the PKK. The PKK is a militant group that fights to give greater independence to Turkish Kurdistan that started out as a separatist insurgency in the 1980s. The PKK is regarded as a terrorist organization by NATO countries in general. Among the NATO countries, I think only Turkey views the PYD as a terrorist organization. The Turkish government does not want a repeat in Syria of what has happened with the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq because they fear this independent government within Syria will be run by the PYD who will inflame problems with the PKK in Turkey.
In recent months, the Turkish government has made increasingly strident accusations against the PYD, from ethnic cleansing in Syria to claiming they are responsible for yesterday’s terrorist attack in Ankara. Militarily, they have gone from periodically shelling YPG positions in Syria, to the sustained artillery shelling in the town of Azaz since the weekend. Another part of Turkey’s problem is that the US government does not view the PYD as a terrorist organization and does not support Turkish claims made against the PYD. In fact, both Russia and the US are extremely supportive of the YPG in Syria.
Which leads to the choice. Along with Turkey’s diplomatic and military campaign that is steadily intensifying against the PYD they are making harsher calls for the US government to make a choice between the desires of the PYD and the desires of the Turkish government. Today, Prime Minister Davutoglu even claimed that perhaps we won’t be such good friends anymore if we continue to support the YPG:
I don’t believe a word of the Turkish government. I don’t believe the PKK and PYD have any relationship that allows the two to be regarded as branches of the same organization. I believe ISIS or the PKK probably committed yesterday’s attack (with bias toward PKK). Regardless, should we still choose? If we continue to fully support the YPG then we will lose Turkey as an ally while the current government exists. If we choose Turkey we will lose the YPG to Russia. If we don’t choose we will be left in the position of reacting to what happens. So in this facet of the Syrian Civil War, what is the smartest position to take?