Sign In / Up

Add contribution as a guest

Your email will not be displayed publicly
Benefit of signing in/signing up to personalize comment

Comment as a guest

Your email will not be displayed publicly
Benefit of signing in/signing up to personalize comment


Not a member Register   Forgot Password
or connect using





Trump’s team balancing Kurdish and Turkish allies in Syria

By Rudaw 12/1/2017
Rex Tillerson, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State. Photo: Kristoffer Tripplaar/AP
Rex Tillerson, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State. Photo: Kristoffer Tripplaar/AP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The defeat of ISIS will be the new US administration’s priority in the Middle East and their strategy includes reaffirming America’s alliance with Syrian Kurds, said President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for the position of top diplomat, who advocated reengagement with Turkey at the same time. 

“Defeating ISIS must be our foremost priority in the Middle East,” said Rex Tillerson on Wednesday at the senate confirmation hearing assessing his nomination to the post of Secretary of State. 

He described Syrian Kurds as “our greatest allies” and said the US must “recommit to the Syrian Kurds that we intend to continue to support you with the capability to continue the advance on Raqqa and then build coalition forces that can contain ISIS if it attempts to move into other parts of the country.”

The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) are the largest force in the diverse coalition Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) who are the US’ key allies on the ground in northern Syria and are fighting to rout ISIS from their self-proclaimed capital of Raqqa. 

The US is supporting the SDF with air power, advice, and training. They are also providing military equipment to the Syrian Arab Coalition, another of the forces fighting under the SDF flag. 

Tillerson’s comments on the Kurdish forces came in response to a question from the Republican Senator for Wyoming, John Barrasso, who asked how Tillerson envisioned restoring America’s position in the world, since, he claimed, it is not as respected internationally as previously.

The presumptive secretary of state said the US has to reengage with friends and allies, fulfilling any existing commitments and agreements that are already in place.  “It means projecting the strength of our US military might, but hopefully not having to use it,” he added. 

The US has repeatedly stood by its Kurdish and SDF allies, despite strong objections from fellow NATO member Turkey, who has labelled the YPG, and therefore the SDF, a terrorist organization with links to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). 

The SDF issued a statement on Tuesday stressing that they are a Syrian force and have no ties with the PKK. “We are a Kurdish, Arabic, Turkmen and Assyrian force from Syria under the banner of the Syrian Democratic Forces. We affirm that we are not part of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) as claimed by some regional countries,” reads the statement released by the SDF on social media.

The US military’s Central Command (CENTCOM) tweeted the SDF’s statement, quickly attracting the ire of Turkey. “Is this a joke or @CENTCOM has lost their senses?” asked Ibrahim Kalin, Turkey’s presidential spokesperson on Twitter. 

Tillerson, in his hearing, appears to be continuing the current administration’s policy of trying to balance their relationship with the Kurds and Turkey. Current State Department statements have been aimed at keeping the two allies from firing on each other and the guns pointed at ISIS – the common enemy. 

Tillerson advocated reengaging with Turkey in order to ensure the US has a voice in Syria’s future, noting that Turkey, along with Russia, Syria, and Iran were dictating how things were playing out in Syria, where the US had been sidelined.

“We have to reengage with the president of Turkey, a longstanding NATO ally. He got pretty nervous about the situation and turned to who next was available and turned to Russia. That is not a sustainable ally. You’re sustainable alliance is with the United States of America, so the first step is that reengagement and reinforce what had been longstanding commitments to stability in this part of the world.”


Data pager
Page size:
Brzoo Kurdi
Brzoo Kurdi | 12/1/2017
the terrorist state of Turkey should stop helping Hamas and the Arab terrorist around the world against Israel.we must unite against the terrorist state of Turkey .and push them to close the Hamas office in Turkey.
guest worker | 12/1/2017
Either way Erdo looses, if he breaks his deal with Putin and steers towards the Americans Putin will teach him a lesson and that lesson will most likely involve Kurds, and if he keeps his current trajectory the Americans will just increase their support for Kurds. Once again the stupid turkeys managed to cornere themselves quite well in their blind hatred and irrational fear of Kurds, everyone knows their weak spot (Kurds) and uses it actively against them.
dude40 | 12/1/2017
love the fact that most Turks and Kurds are vying for Trumps approval. Nothing going to change. Turks will get the preferntial treatments like always. Kurds are only a pawn in the middle-east game. They are expendable.
rex | 12/1/2017
balance is a keyword in everything in life. probably in entire universe.
Pete | 12/1/2017
The irony is that there is no more dangerous terrorist organisation in the middle east than the government of Turkey...

Be Part of Your Rudaw!

Share your stories, photos and videos with Rudaw, and quite possibly the world.

What You Say

Sepah e Noor | 5/14/2017 4:05:37 PM
Iraqi Kurds compare them self to somali people and sudanese, you really are scum of the kurdish three. I hope KRG never split from Iraq and that Iran...
littlebird | 5/24/2017 6:57:12 AM
Iraq is one country with 3 states. Why the US gave them a constitution that was a total failure we can only guess. As far as I'm concerned it was...
Newly established party seeks autonomous Sunni region in Iraq
| 13/5/2017 | (14)
FAUthman | 5/13/2017 3:40:12 AM
The best blueprint plans for the future of Mosul will prove to be inadequate. Your best approach for Mosul and its problems after or even during the...
truthsayer | 5/24/2017 6:54:39 AM
Prepared for what? There will be open rebellion due to corruption. That's just been shelved, there is going to be allot of political blood spilled,...
Is Iraq prepared for the day after ISIS in Mosul?
| 10/5/2017 | (3)
Ryo | 5/23/2017 9:57:26 PM
The so-called Somaliland is just one clan, If the world is going to recognize this so-called state then the world might as well recognize every...
Ayoub | 5/24/2017 6:45:39 AM
Than you Rudaw for this post. Long live Kurdistan and Somaliland!
Why Somaliland split from Somalia, state-building and struggle for recognition
| yesterday at 09:31 | (8)
A Kurd in exile | 5/23/2017 10:48:43 PM
In my book, any Kurd who travels to Turkey as a tourist, or travels on Turkish Airline, or buys any Turkish-made product, is a traitor. Period! No...
kurdi Sabllaghim | 5/24/2017 1:02:22 AM
My Kurdish nation: Well-done go and spend your hard earned money in Turkey to improve the enemies economy....!!!. Go and spend your money in a...
Number of Kurdish travellers visiting Turkey doubles
| 18 hours ago | (3)

Elsewhere on Rudaw

PM Barzani: Baghdad-Erbil relations akin to landlord and tenant, neither party likes it 1 hour ago |

PM Barzani: Baghdad-Erbil relations akin to landlord and tenant, neither party likes it

“Kurdistan has never had a better opportunity more
Court near Mosul hears civilian compensation claims and ISIS trials 15 hours ago |

Court near Mosul hears civilian compensation claims and ISIS trials

People accused of collaboration with ISIS are more
Kurdistan holds first mountaineering competition 15 hours ago |

Kurdistan holds first mountaineering competition

It involved a 4 km run, a climb reaching the top more
0.5 seconds