In the recent weeks, the Kurdish led Syrian Democratic forces has been advancing and capturing the opposition held territories backed by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Turkish government in Ankara has warned the Kurds about their advancement but they continued towards the city of Azaz which made the Turkish army respond strongly by shelling the Kurdish forces for several days trying to stop their advance.
Turkey sees the Syrian Democratic forces as a terrorist organization since the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit [YPG] is the backbone of this force, YPG is also the armed wing of the Democratic Union Party [PYD] which is a Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party [PKK] which is classified as a terrorist organization by Turkey, Europe and United States. Syrian Democratic forces is supported by Turkey’s ally, the United States and by Turkey’s rival, Russia for different purposes.
The Russian-Kurdish relations is not a new relation it dates back to World War I, when the Russian Empire supported the minorities in the Ottoman Empire to stir up unrest inside the empire. During 1960s and 1970s Soviet Union has supported the leftist Kurdish organizations and political activism which ended up in the creation of Kurdistan Workers’ Party in 1978 which later began a separatist war against Turkey.
Russia now openly supports the Syrian Democratic forces military and politically to anger Ankara because of the Russian Su-24 shootdown last November 2015 by Turkish jet fighters, Russia is trying weaken Turkey’s role in the Syrian conflict since Turkey is one of the main backers of the Syrian opposition militant groups. Russian forces and airforce are currently supporting the Assad regime forces and Kurdish led Syrian Democratic forces.
Russian airforce has been effective in the Syrian conflict this has made the Assad regime forces gain a lot of new areas in Aleppo’s suburbs and now they are closing to make a siege on Aleppo city. Also the Russian airforce has supported the Kurdish led Syrian Democratic forces advance in the northern suburbs of Aleppo which made them capture Tal Afrat and now they are at the outskirts of Azaz which is just 6 kilometers (4 miles) away from the Turkish border. This advancement is meant to weaken the Syrian opposition and to force them to accept Moscow’s terms regarding Geneva III peace talks, also to push the Kurdish presence next to the Turkish borders from Aleppo which definitely Turkey does not like to see.
However, Moscow did only support them militarily and logistically but also politically. They allowed Democratic Union Party [PYD] which is a Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party [PKK] to open a consulate office in the Russian capital Moscow.
US support for the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit [YPG] began when the Islamic State fighters stormed the Kurdish town of Kobani in September 2014. US government has forced Turkey to allow the Iraqi Peshmerga forces to cross the Turkish borders and to assist the YPG and FSA fighters inside the town of Kobani. US airforce has supported the YPG forces effectively and also dropped weapons to them then later it helped them re-capture the town of Tal Abyad from the Islamic State which resulted in displacing thousands of Turkmen and Arab families.
US airforce is considered to be the air power of the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit [YPG] fighting on the ground against the Islamic State. United States sees YPG as the only organized local force that can fight against the Islamic State, but in reality the Syrian opposition militant groups have more experience in fighting against the Islamic State but they were not supported by US since they were told to stop their fight against Assad regime and to fight Islamic State only but they refused and continued to fight them both without any air support.
Turkish President Erdogan has called on United States not to support the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit [YPG] since it has links to the PKK, Washington has ignored Turkey and said that they don’t consider YPG to be a terrorist organization despite its strong connection with the PKK which is classified as a terrorist organization by both countries.
Kurdish People’s Protection Unit [YPG] are not willing to fight against the Islamic State to defeat it or to march towards the ISIS capital of Raqqa, their main objective is clear which is to connect the three cantons [Jazira, Kobani and Efrin] with each other, they see this as an opportunity in case the regional and global superpowers agree to partitioning of Syria, Syrian Kurdistan [Rojava] which is a de facto autonomous region at the moment will be declared as an Independent state and split from modern Syria.
Turkey considers the connection of the three Kurdish cantons a real threat to its national security which is a clear red line for Ankara. Turkish government believes that Rojava will be a new safe haven for the PKK organization where they can recruit, train and later on launch terrorist attacks against Turkey. The Syrian opposition will lose northern Syria and especially the border crossing of Bab Salama which is the only gateway to the outside world where they receive the humanitarian and military aid to survive in this bloody conflict.
Kurdish People’s Protection Unit [YPG] are being used as a fighting proxy by the two super powers United States and Russia to implement their military interests in the Syrian conflict, YPG or SDF are used by Russia to fight against the Syrian opposition militant groups in the name of fighting “al-Qaeda\ISIS” and at the same to challenge Turkey by helping SDF forces gain new grounds in order to connect with the other cantons. United States are using the SDF forces to fight against Islamic State while ignoring the atrocities and destruction committed by the Assad regime, Hezbollah and the Iranian backed Shiite militias.