The Trump administration has presented a plan to re-take the strategic city of Raqqa from ISIS. Raqqa represents the political stronghold and the Capital for the ISIS Caliphate and its defeat and liberation is essential to the defeat of the ISIS threat. Key to this strategy is a plan to arm the SDF (Syrian Defense Forces) which is a coalition of Arabs and the YPG, a Syrian Kurdish group. This has inflamed Turkish sensitivities and particularly Turkish President Erdogan who considers the YPG as an offshoot of the Turkish Kurdish group, the PKK.
Turkey has long considered the PKK a terrorist organization and an enemy of the state. They vehemently oppose any attempts to arm or aid the PKK or the YPG. The YPG in alliance with the SDF have proven effective in fighting the ISIS threat. The YPG is also the same Kurdish group that Turkish forces bombed recently, so it’s obvious to see that the decision to arm this group will affect the United States’ already tenuous relationship with the Erdogan government.
The Kurds are an ethnic group of about 25-35 million that inhabit southeast Turkey, northern Syria, northern Iraq, northwest Iran and southern Armenia. When you see it on a map, it carves out a portion of all these countries that geographically could become what the Kurds have been wanting for years- their own identity and country, Kurdistan. The Kurds remain a people without a country and have a tumultuous history inside the countries they inhabit. Anytime there is an offer for western support or alliance with any Kurdish group, it inflames the sensitivities of the countries where they live. The Kurds themselves are divided by culture, religion, tribes and political ambition, although they are primarily Sunni. Read more