Thursday, March 24, 2016

Was Syria Cooperating Militarily With Turkey Against The PKK? I Would Say YES

Stumbled across this article, quite by chance- from Jamestown Foundation
Written in 2010- Before the NATO destabilization of both nations began in earnest.
And this is an anniversary post of sorts, also, as you'll find out at the end!

Let's have a look back, keeping in mind all we know from then to present time:
Recent media reports suggest that a new phase of Syrian-Turkish military cooperation has begun against Kurdish militants of the Parti Karkerani Kurdistan (PKK - Kurdistan Workers Party) in Syria. However, a closer examination of the rapprochement between Damascus and Ankara and their respective policies on Kurdish nationalism reveals accounts of greater military cooperation may be premature.
The author of this piece (Wladimir van Wilgenburg) suggest accounts of greater military cooperation may be premature- And yet, I don't think so. Not from reading below.

In the past, Syria has supported the PKK against Turkey and allowed the PKK to recruit Syrian Kurds to fight against Turkey. [1] However, this changed after Syria decided to force PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan out of the country in 1998, when Turkey threatened to invade Syria. After 1998, Syria started to crack down on remaining PKK networks and forged better ties with Turkey. On Öcalan’s orders, most PKK rebels moved to the Qandil Mountains of northern Iraq.
In 1998 Syria and Turkey began to forge better ties and crack down on PKK networks.
By time this Jamestown piece was written a whole lot of crackin' down would have taken place.
I wonder if this concerned certain parties? Israel. NATO. US.

The PKK created the ethnic-Kurdish Partiya Yekiti ya Demokratîk (PYD - Party of Democratic Union) in Syria in September 2003. This party was targeted by the Syrian state, as were other Kurdish political parties in Syria. Hundreds of its members were arrested and PYD meetings were repressed by Syrian security forces. Some PYD supporters were killed during PYD-organized Kurdish New Year celebrations in the town of al-Raqqa near Aleppo in March 2010. [2] Despite this, Öcalan, the currently imprisoned PKK leader, remains positive about Syria, suggesting “Syria will not take part in the annihilation concept of the Kurds,” in a statement published by a pro-PKK news agency (Ajansa Nuceyan a Firate [ANF], June 18).
Readers here are or should be very well aware that PYD and PKK are one in the same. And considering the fact that PKK/PYD is a terrorist outfit, I can understand Syria, as well as Turkey, reigning them in

Syria maintains good ties with Turkey out of concern over Kurdish nationalism, perceived as a threat in both countries. Syria especially fears that the new Kurdish autonomous region in Iraq could affect its own Syrian Kurds. [3] Unrest in the north-eastern Syrian city of al-Qamishli in 2004 convinced Damascus to take harsher measures against Kurdish nationalists. Kurds are the largest ethnic minority in Syria, with their community of 3 million forming 16% of the population. The Syrian government is highly critical of federalism in Iraq, and prefers a strong central Iraqi government. Unlike Turkey and Iran, Syria does not have a consulate in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq.
So when the US birthed the Kurdish autonomous zone in Iraq in 03, they knew very well that this would destabilize Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran. Talk about killing many birds with one stone?

Ties between the two nations have also grown due to the increasingly assertive foreign policy of Turkey’s ruling Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi (AKP - Justice and Development Party). The Turkish-Syrian rapprochement began before the Islamist AKP came to power in 2002. Previously in 1999, Syria had signed the Adana Treaty on security cooperation with Turkey. [4] The seven years of rapprochement under the AKP have brought about a significant strengthening of Syrian-Turkish ties. [5] This has resulted in visa-free travel between Syria and Turkey and joint cabinet-level meetings. These good relations have created positive changes for the Kurds in Syria, since Kurds in both countries no longer need visas for cross-border visits. [6]
Ties between Syria and Turkey had been growing since 2002 (at least until the time of this article in 2010) In 1999 Syria and Turkey sign a security cooperation agreement. I can think of several parties that would not have like this at all. Israel. US.  That cooperation makes a lie of the whole Sunni/Shia split. Interesting

Last summer media reports suggested there was new Syrian-Turkish security cooperation against the PKK. (2009) According to the state-run Anatolian News Agency (ANA, a.k.a. Anadolu Ajansi), 400 PKK members were arrested in the Syrian cities of Aleppo, Kamishli, Afrin, al-Hasaka and Ar-Raqqa and 11 PKK fighters were killed in joint Turkish-Syrian operations at the end of June 2010 (ANA, July 1).  In addition, sanctions were taken against Kurdish families supporting the PKK. The New York Times described this as a sign of growing Syrian cooperation with Turkey (July 1). There were also claims that Israeli-made Heron drones from Turkey were used against the PKK in Syria (Gazete Vatan, July 23). At the same time, Turkish media talked about clashes between the PKK and Shi’a militants in Lebanon (Hürriyet, July 13). But Turkish security analyst Emrullah Uslu thinks it is unlikely that Herons would be used in Syria. [7] The PKK has no armed presence in Syria or Lebanon.
Perhaps the Israeli drones were not used, but, I can't discount out of hand the clashes between the PKK and militants in Lebanon
The PKK’s news agency described accounts of both incidents as “lies” by the Turkish state (ANF, July 17). PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan remarked he does not believe Syria would kill Kurds (ANF, July 18). PKK spokesperson Roj Welat told Jamestown that Turkey is providing misinformation to the public in order to convince Syria to work with Turkey against the PKK. [8] He stated, “There were no such clashes between Syrian military forces and the PKK. Of course they are arresting Kurds and oppressing Kurdish people in Syria, but there have been no such clashes as the Turkish media claims.” 
So Syria was arresting PKK and oppressing PKK but "there were no clashes"? Oh, I think there were clashes. I don't believe the PKK spokesperson at all. So these terrorist, smugglers criminals were just taking their oppression lying down? Only a fool would believe that nonsense. If it don't make sense. It can't be true.

PYD member Shirwan Hassan confirmed a total of 400 PYD supporters have been arrested in Syria in the last three years but not just in the last summer, as reported. [9] During the last Newroz event in Ar-Raqqa, several PYD members were arrested. Other Kurdish politicians like Sherko Abbas and Kurdistan Democratic Party Syria (KDP-S) secretary Ebu Sabir say not only PKK members were arrested in the recent years, confirming there are frequent arrests of Kurdish political activists in Syria. [10]
Syrian President Assad indicated that he did not know anything about the alleged military operations, but said that security meetings with Turkey are not new and happen on a regular basis. The Syrian leader said that his country could give amnesty to “1,500 Syrian-origin terrorists within the PKK” to contribute to a solution of the Kurdish issue in Turkey (Today’s Zaman, July 17). Assad has been clear that military means alone will not solve the Kurdish issue, stating, “We embrace anyone who lays down arms because our goal is not to take revenge but to end terrorism. We cannot end terrorism by hunting terrorists. Because every terrorist killed is replaced by another one” (Today’s Zaman, July September 17).  
Assad the politician. But astute.
It seems as though reports of a wave of arrests of 400 people and military operations against the PKK have been exaggerated. Syria is neither obtaining military support from the Turkish army against the PKK nor is Turkey pressuring Syria to do more against the PKK, although political and security cooperation continues to expand. It is likely that in the future Syrian-Turkish cooperation will continue, especially after the recent rise in tension between Turkey and Israel. Syria and Turkey will need such cooperation to curtail the threat posed by Kurdish nationalism, which has typically taken advantage of cross-border refuges in Syria and Iraq when pressured by the Turkish military.
How does this author draw the conclusion that reports have been exaggerated?  I can't make that conclusion myself especially when he goes on to say in 2010 ' It is likely that in the future Syrian-Turkish cooperation will continue" And "Syria and Turkey will need such cooperation to curtail the threat posed by Kurdish nationalism, which has typically taken advantage of cross-border refuges in Syria and Iraq when pressured by the Turkish military"
And in March of 2011 the destabilization began.

 I wrote my very first post on the Syrian destabilization March 24/2011:Western backed Social Media "revolution" coming to Syria That was 5 years ago today- And being a bit wiser and more informed I'm confidently suggesting the first fighters to cross the Turkish border and kill Syrian law enforcement were PKK aided by NATO forces. I mention the killing of these men in June 2011 in the post titled:  Israel wants to deliver "aid" to syrian refugees- NATO troops in Turkey/Recon flights over Syria
NATO forces will be on the ground in Turkey

Turkey has agreed that NATO can turn its airbase in Turkey into a base for ground operations into Syria.

NATO’s Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said the alliance will transfer the bulk of its ground forces from a military base in the city of Heidelberg in southwestern Germany.

Other troops will arrive from Spain to be placed at the Izmir Air Station in western Turkey, which will now become the centre for ground troops.
That was in 2011. NATO moved it ground forces from Germany and others were set to arrive from Spain- This was a NATO operation from start to finish. And for those who may not know
Izmir Air Station is a US Air Force Facility in NATO occupied Turkey
 Izmir Air Station is a United States Air Force facility in Izmir, Turkey. It is located 320 km (200 mi) SSW of Istanbul, on the western coast of Turkey.
U.S. responsibilities in the Izmir area began on September 8, 1952 with the activation of Allied Land Forces South-Eastern Europe and the arrival on October 14, 1953 of the Sixth Allied Tactical Air Force at Sirinyer Garrison south of Izmir.
Notes from the Jamestown article

1. Human Rights Watch, “Group Denial: Repression of Kurdish Political and Cultural Rights in Syria,”
2. “Three young Kurds shot dead, 41 injured at a Newroz event in Syria,” International Support Kurds in Syria Association, March 21,
3. F. Stephen Larrabee, "Turkey Rediscovers the Middle East," Foreign Affairs 86(4), July/August 2007, pp.103-114.
4. Author’s interview with PKK spokesperson Roj Welat, August 2, 2010.
5. Human Rights Watch, op cit.
6. Author’s interview with Syrian Kurdish journalist Sirwan H. Berko, July 28, 2010.
7. Author’s interview with Turkish security analyst Emrullah Uslu, July 28 2010.
8. Soner Cagaptay, "AKP reshuffles Turkey’s neighbors," Middle East Strategy at Harvard (MESH), October 26, 2009,
9. Author’s interview with a PYD member who is responsible for external contacts of the PYD in the Netherlands, September 2, 2010.
10. Author’s interview with KDP-S secretary in Iraq, August 14 and Dr. Sherkoh Abbas, President of the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria, August 1, 2010.


  1. Five years ago today I started covering the destabilization of Syria by NATO forces. I've learned lots along the way and it seemed a good time to step back and look at this information with a wiser mind then I had 5 years ago.

  2. Jamestown is the "series" rferl

    1. Jamestown is carnegie endowment for Eurasia. Caveat emptor

    2. Oh so a mouthpiece for the elites?
      I had sort of figured that...
      must've been why I had trouble with the conclusions..

  3. Penny,
    A coup find ! excellent and it ties this whole debacle together

    Thanks for your diligence over these years

    1. Hey karin
      you gotta come back and see what I'm working on right now!

  4. Thanks for being all over this subject. I so appreciate you (and Scott - can't forget him ) doing the research and picking it apart. You're a force for good in this world.

    1. You're welcome :)
      And know way can we forget Scott :)
      " You're a force for good in this world'
      And so are you :)

  5. "If it don't make sense. It can't be true."
    Except when NATO or the US Dept. of State is providing information. Where everything makes no sense and yet is completely true. :)

  6. Penny, not relevant to Kurds et al.. but falls under I believe you 'need to know'

    El Murid says COUP attempt thwarted in Kyrgyzstan

    saw it when I did a quick check on news at twitter. More time after tomorrow to read and catch up