The United States public holiday of Thanksgiving is among the most peculiar of celebrations as it commemorates a brief moment of peace when native Americans of the Wampanoag people fed English colonists who were unfamiliar with many of the foodstuffs of what is now the north-eastern United States. This moment of good will however did not last long as European colonists eventually built a new nation on the blood of native American peoples who were slaughtered, imprisoned and forcibly relocated to the hinterlands of North America.
In spite of this very unhappy ending, the modern American feast of Thanksgiving has become a largely secular holiday where Americans celebrate that which they have to be thankful for. Among other things, the people of the United States should be thankful for the fact that the most stable nation in western Eurasia, the Republic of Turkey is a long standing ally that continues to seek healthy relations with the United States even as under the leadership of the fiercely independent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey like many other nations seeks to embrace a multipolar win-win approach towards geopolitical relations. This means that while Turkey has warm relations with Russia, China and Iran, Turkey equally seeks continued healthy relations with the United States, European Union and other fellow NATO members.
As a secular democracy with a renewed emphasis on religious freedom, most Americans would feel uniquely safe in Turkey which is something that cannot be said of most of Turkey’s neighbours. And yet in spite of the fact that Turkey has been a loyal ally of the United States throughout its modern history, Washington continues to forge a battlefield alliance with one of the world’s most notorious terror groups that since the late 1970s has killed 40,000 people in Turkey, many of whom were civilians.
The PKK terror group does not share the kinds of values that ordinary Americans would feel comfortable with. Operating with a mafioso mentality, the group is notorious not only for attacking, murdering and disfiguring policemen, soldiers and civilians but they are also guilty of harassing, pillaging and murdering those of an ethnic Kurdish background they deviously claim to defend. By contrast, one can be of an ethnic Kurdish background and a full Turkish citizen without facing any form of legal prejudice. This contrasts sharply with the rights of African-Americans in the United States prior to 1964 where various southern states enacting so-called Jim Crow laws which deprived black American citizens of their most basic rights.
Like most responsible nations, the United States lists the PKK as a terrorist organisation and yet in Syria, the United States military continues to arm, fund and fight beside the PKK’s Syrian branch – the YPG. Beyond simply being a supreme insult to a long time NATO ally, the short term thinking behind allying with a violent terror group will come back to haunt the US in one form or another as any alliance with terrorism ultimately becomes a pact with the Devil that is not easy to crawl out from under. Already, local Arabs in the north-east of Syria are beginning to rebel against the pseudo-regime of YPG/PKK terrorists that under US supervision have occupied parts of northern Syria, thus turning historic Arab majority regions into a gangsters’ nest of ethnic cleansing that has seen both Arab and non-Kurdish minority populations suffer under the whip hand of ethno-centric terrorist extremists.
Is the United States really so desperate for an ally in Syria that it is willing to retain an always ill-conceived alliance with a group that has committed acts of violence against not only Turkomen but against Muslim Arabs and the Christian minorities of the region? Is the US proud of arming a group that has launched mortars into Turkey from Syrian soil after the US cleared a path for YPG/PKK occupation of some of Syria’s most strategic northern cities and towns?
If the US government is thankful for this, surely the American people ought to be thankful for a dose of reality that might lead them to openly challenge their government’s alliance with YPG/PKK terrorism in the same way that Turkey’s handling of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi has led many Americans to question their governments position vis-a-vis Saudi Arabia. For all that Saudi Arabia is, it is still a state. By contrast, the PKK is a terror group according to the American government itself and yet that same American government is fighting with the PKK in Syria.
If Americans learned anything from the horrors of 9/11, it should have been that there is no such thing as an acceptable terrorist group. There are no “good terrorists and bad terrorists”. All terrorists are in fact bad or in the words of George W. Bush “evil doers”. A group that uses remote detonation devices, mortars, violent armed assaults, bondage, extraction, torture, mass murder, ethnic cleansing, blackmail and the sale of narcotics to achieve its vague political aims cannot have a single saving grace. And yet by allying with the YPG/PKK in Syria, the US is effectively saying that the disgusting and criminal methods used by the terror organisation are somehow appropriate or even desirable. This becomes all the more tragic when one realises that the PKK threatens the security of a sovereign state that is not an enemy but a long time partner of the United States.
The war in Syria has been a polarising one for many people across many lands, but just as most level headed people draw a line when it comes to supporting groups like Daesh (aka ISIS), the same red line applies or at least must apply to supporting the PKK in all its forms. This is why news that the US has set up observation posts in north-eastern Syria to ostensibly separate Turkish forces from the YPG/PKK, feels duplicitous than transparent. While the US claims that these observation posts will help American forces to keep the YPG/PKK out of Turkey, the reality is that these observation posts will ensure the survival of a terror group that should be mutually neutralised by both Turkish and American forces in order to ensure long term regional peace not just for Turkey but also for Syria and Iraq.
Turkey is an invaluable partner as multiple nations ranging from China and Qatar, Russia to Sudan, Pakistan to Malaysia have come to realise. As one of modern Turkey’s long term allies, rather than offer thanks for the stabilising presence of Turkey in an otherwise fraught region, the US government is squandering this alliance on the altar of violent terrorism and squandering good will among the vast majority of Syrian Arabs in the process.
Just as Turkey would never fund anti-US terror groups operating in Mexico, nor should the United States fund an anti-Turkish terror group operating in Syria. If Americans want to express thanks to a steadfast ally in the multi-layered wars against terrorism, the best thing they could do is to publicly express their outrage at their government’s support for a YPG/PKK terror group that does not belong in the 21st century.