A top US diplomat has formally asked Germany to send German military personnel to Syria in order to support the YPG/YPJ-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a pro-PKK armed organization in North-Eastern Syria.
James Franklin Jeffrey, the US Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State of Iraq and former US Ambassador to Turkey, has called on Germany to send military trainers, logistics specialists and technicians to help the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) which are a new brand name of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ). Both YPG and YPJ share the same ideology and political goals as the PKK which is listed as a terrorist organization by several states and organizations, including the USA and the European Union.
American Defense Secretary Ashton Carter confirmed „substantial ties“ between the YPG/YPJ and the PKK. Testifying to the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee Congress, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats, the top U.S. intelligence official, explicitly defined the YPG/YPJ as the „PKK’s militia force in Syria”. Turkey has designated the YPG/YPJ as a terrorist organization, and in 2018 Turkey captured most of Afrin region from the YPG/YPJ.
According to U.S. Special Forces Commander General Raymond A. Thomas at the Aspen Security Forum (Colorado) in July 2017, the SDF is a PR-friendly name for the YPG/YPJ, which Thomas personally suggested because the YPG/YPJ is considered an arm of the PKK, which is designated as a terrorist group by the U.S. government. Thomas personally told the leaders of Syria’s YPG and YPJ forces: „You have got to change your brand“. This happened a day or so before the US forces unveiled an alliance with YPG and YPJ under their new brand name SDF.
Thomas said he made the Turkish concerns known to the YPG back in 2015: “We literally played back to them: ‘You have got to change your brand. What do you want to call yourselves besides the YPG?’ With about a day’s notice they declared that they are the Syrian Democratic Forces. I thought it was a stroke of brilliance to put democracy in there somewhere. But it gave them a little bit of credibility.”
Thomas also acknowledged that perceived links between YPG/YPJ and PKK create problems: “They got to work on their own branding. If they continue to keep linkage to their past product – the PKK linkage, specifically – the relationship is fraught with challenges,” General Thomas said.
On Friday, Envoy Jeffrey was in Berlin on a mission to draw pledges of military and financial support from the German government. Jeffrey has asked the federal government of Germany to support the SDF in the northeast of Syria with trainers, logisticians and Bundeswehr technical assistants.
Johann Wadephul, the deputy parliamentary leader of the ruling Christian parties CDU and CSU has spoken out in favor of a careful examination of the US request for German ground forces for Syria. The request should not be „reflexively rejected,“ said the politician on Sunday. „In any case“, he called for the use of „Tornado“ reconnaissance aircraft of the German air force Bundeswehr in the fight against the terrorist organization Islamic State (IS) to continue. „This region is about our security, not the American one,“ he said.
Foreign and defense expert Wadephul will act as a candidate to succeed Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen should the CDU politicians become EU Commission President in Brussels.
Germany is involved in the anti-IS coalition with „Tornado“ reconnaissance aircraft, a tanker aircraft and trainers in Iraq. The aircraft operate from Jordan. Actually, their mission should expire on October 31st. The Bundestag advises on a possible extension at the earliest in September.