The Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA), which represents the interests of over half million Turkish Americans living in the United States, is deeply concerned with the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent remarks on Turkey’s military intervention targeting Kurds in Syria. Secretary Pompeo’s identification of US-backed People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria with Kurds shows worrying lack of knowledge of ties between the terrorist organization Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and YPG.

The YPG is an armed wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), a Kurdish nationalist group linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been declared by Turkey, the United States, the European Union, NATO, and major world governments a terrorist organization having taken thousands of lives in Turkey since early 1980s. The YPG poses a direct national security threat to Turkey, a strategic military and political ally of the United States and NATO member since 1952.

Both YPG and PKK’s close ties have been acknowledged by many US officials including the former US Defense Secretary Ash Carter during a Q&A session at the Armed Services Committee hearings. 1

An official report prepared by US National Security Director Daniel Coats and presented to the US Congress acknowledged that YPG, the Syrian wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), is seeking autonomy in Syria. 2

Turkey’s military intervention in Syria aims to establish stability along the Turkey-Syria border region, to protect Syrian civilians from the YPG, PKK and ISIS attacks and to ensure the safe return of displaced Syrians including Syrian Kurds to their homes in Syria.

Turkey has provided refuge for more than 3.5 million Syrians including Syrian Kurds since the start of war, 500,000 Iraqi Kurdish refugees In the 1990s, as well as 200,000 Azeris from Armenian-occupied western Azerbaijan, 100,000 Armenians from Armenia, 75,000 Bosnians, 50,000 Bulgarians, 20,000 Albanians and Kosovars, and thousands of others.

The ongoing US support for YPG and misrepresenting Turkey’s fight against terrorism in Syria jeopardizes not only the security of Turkey but the mutual trust and the long-standing partnership between the two countries.

The ATAA urges the governments of the United States and the Republic of Turkey to do their utmost to avoid further deterioration of relations between two great allies.