WASHINGTON, August 22, 2014 – The enemy of my enemy is my friend, a 4th century BC Sanskrit proverb, may unite the world against the Islamic State. And if the world stands up together against IS, IS will fall.
One of those groups emerging to fight jihadist are the PKK, or the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. There are approximately 20,000 fighters in Syria with up to another 40,000 fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Turkey.
“The Iraqi army collapsed and the Peshmerga failed. We are the only force who has repeatedly defeated jihadist,” said Kawar Singali, who carries a U.S.-made M16 rifle he said he captured from a dead Islamic State fighter. “They fear us, and although no one is helping us, we are getting bigger and more experienced.”
Washington considers the PKK, or the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, a terror organization and therefore will not “officially work with them.” However, PKK commanders reported that conversations with U.S. representatives have been constructive.
The U.S. and its Western allies are prohibited by law from providing weapons or training to designated terrorist organizations, but now find themselves fighting on the same side as the PKK and its affiliates to counter the Islamic State threat.
“The Iraqi Peshmerga have had tough times in the last two weeks, and the PKK guys seem to be on their game,” said Michael Knights of the Washington Institute for Near East Affairs, a think tank. “The U.S. doesn’t do business with terrorist organizations…but there’s a lot they could turn a blind eye to.”
The PKK follows a Marxist, or Communist, political theory that has led to an ongoing war against democratic Turkey for the last three decades.
That has been changing. 2012 peace talks have deescalated the violence and in 2013 the groups jailed leader, Abdullah Ocalan, said that the PPK would end the armed conflict with Turkey.
Last Sunday peace negotiations between the two groups were said to be “almost complete.”
That peace is now in jeopardy. Riots in southeastern Turkey have broken out over the tearing down of a relatively new statute of a PKK militant Mahsum Korkmaz, a senior PKK official who led the groups first attack against Turkish forces in 1984.
The statue was unveiled last week on the anniversary of those first attacks and a local court ordered its demolition, causing a clash between the PKK fighters and Turkish army that left a 24 year-old PKK fighter, Mehdi Taskin, dead.
Turkish soldiers went on the attack against Kurds in Lice Diyarbakir. They destroyed the statue of Mahsum Korkmaz. pic.twitter.com/Q72n2BwKPu
— Wasan Shoresh (@K4life_) August 19, 2014
Military officials speaking to Turkish media outlets said that the army was aware of the statue and the date it would be unveiled. Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay said the statue was erected by the PKK to derail the reconciliation process between the PKK and Turkey.
The PKK have been strong warriors in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq engaging the Islamic State in Syria for the last two years and they are showing some serious military gains using guerrilla techniques and without heavy weaponry, buying their arms – guns, ammunition and rocket propelled grenades – on the black market with funds from European supporters.
The PKK Syrian branch is in control of security in Kurdish Syria and they are working with the Peshmerga, which means “those that face death” which is under control of Iraq’s Kurdistan’s ruling parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.
The PKK, at the request of Iraqi Kurdish principals, asked PKK fighters for help in the war against IS jihadist. The PKK Syrian units got through Islamic States lines to assist tens of thousands of Yazidis escape from Mount Sinjar where the Christian based groups escaped as the IS overran their homes in Mosul.
Today they are working with many of the Yazidi youth, male and female, they helped to escape from Mount Sinjar last week when they advanced into Iraq and broke IS lines.
As U.S. drones, jets and bombers pummeled militant positions, IS militants backed off from their positions around the Mosul Damn. PKK fighters reportedly assisted Kurdish ground forces in recapturing positions around the dam from the IS.
A unit of female PKK soldiers are seeking the Islamic State forces who have captured 3,000 non-Muslim girls and women who will be forced into marriage with IS soldiers, sold as sex slaves or shot if they refuse to convert to Islam.
Hundreds of heavily armed female Turkish PKK fighters have moved into Northern Iraq to force IS fighters out. The Iraqi government said that the movement of PKK fighters into its territory is a “flagrant violation” of its sovereignty and said it would complain to the UN Security Council.
The Kurdish fighters arrived in the autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq on Tuesday following a week-long journey armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles, light machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.
They were greeted by Iraq-based PKK members who embraced them and shook their hands.
“We are the first group to reach the safe area in Iraq,” said Jagar, leader of the group of PKK fighters that comprised nine men and six women.
“Our support is just as important for the Peshmerga as these US strikes – bombings alone cannot get rid of guerrilla groups,” said Sedar Botan, a female PKK veteran commander. We will keep fighting until all of Kurdistan is safe.”
Jihadist have such little respect for women that they do not want to fight them – because if they are killed by a woman they will not go to heaven (note to ISIS fighters: you are not going to heaven anyway.)
Iraqi terror expert Nasser Kataw said: “There has been a re-drawing of battlefield alliances as people who were once enemies have joined together to try and defeat the scourge that is the Islamic State.”