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US alliance with YPG/PKK not long-term: former envoy

US withdrawal from Syria is not betrayal of alliance with PKK's Syrian affiliate, says Robert Ford

  | 17.01.2019
US alliance with YPG/PKK not long-term: former envoy Former US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford

By Umar Farooq

WASHINGTON

The U.S. relationship with the YPG/PKK terrorist group in northern Syria was a tactical military alliance, not long-term, the former American ambassador to Syria said Thursday.

Speaking on a conference call with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Robert Ford said he did not see the U.S. withdrawal from Syria as a betrayal of their alliance with the YPG/PKK, due to the nature of their relationship.

"We did not have a formal relationship with the Syrian Kurdish fighters on the ground, the YPG militia connected to the PKK. They were up to their necks in alligators, in ISIS alligators," Ford said, referring to the Daesh terrorist group by another name. "We stepped in first with airstrikes and later supplies and began to help them.

"It was in the Syrian Kurds' interest to fight ISIS. They were not doing it as a favor to the United States."

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU -- has been responsible for the death of some 40,000 people. The YPG is the group's Syrian branch.

Ford, who served as Syrian ambassador from 2010 to 2014, referred to the U.S.-YPG relationship as a "tactical alliance," and during his time under former U.S. President Barack Obama, he said he was assured that "no long-term commitment to the YPG or the PYD, its political branch" was being made.

"This was a tactical, military operation against a common enemy," Ford added.

Last month, U.S. President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of 2,000 military troops from Syria.

The pullout decision came during a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in which the two leaders agreed on the need for more effective coordination over the civil war-torn country.

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