Response to allegations made by US Secretary of State Blinken concerning the PKK

If the US wants to stop Al-Qaeda, then they should tell their NATO partner Turkey to end their cooperation with al-Qaida affiliate of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) in Idlib, Syria, said the KNK regarding the “Strategic Mechanism” between the US and Turkey.


Recently, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan in Washington DC as part of the series of US-Turkey discussions dubbed the “Strategic Mechanism”. During last week’s meeting, Blinken parroted the slanderous disinformation of Turkish President Erdoğan’s authoritarian regime, making no mention of Erdoğan’s comprehensive stifling of opposition or his regime’s title as the world’s leading jailer of journalists.

One particular passage in the joint statement released by the governments of the US and Turkey was particularly offensive: “The Secretary reiterated the United States’ condemnation of the PKK terrorist organization, DHKP-C, as well as ISIS/DAESH targeting Turkey and Turkish interests. The United States and Turkey reiterated their shared commitment to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS/DAESH in Syria and Iraq and discussed cooperation to counter the threat of ISIS/DAESH and al-Qa’ida affiliates present in Africa and Central Asia.”

In a statement responding to allegations by US Secretary of State Blinken, the Executive Council of the Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) said: “We cannot and do not accept these allegations concerning the PKK in any way or this fanciful account of the Turkish state fighting against the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group, and while the US domestic press will likely let this disinformation go unchallenged, we cannot.”

The statement released by KNK on Monday included the following: “The reality, by many in the US government and military, is that, during the rise of ISIS, the Turkish state and their intelligence agency, the MIT, led at the time by Mr. Fidan himself, armed, assisted, and weaponized ISIS as their own proxy mercenaries against the Kurds in Rojava/North and East Syria and South Kurdistan (Iraq). Turkey coordinated with ISIS, supported the group, and facilitated its expansion from the very beginning in many ways, including buying their oil, treating their wounded in Turkish hospitals, and allowing the creation of a “jihadist highway” from the Istanbul airport to Gaziantep and into Syria, a path followed by many thousands of foreign fighters from tens of countries who traveled to Turkey to join ISIS.

Indeed, several statements from Bret McGurk, currently the National Security Council Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa in US President Joe Biden’s Administration, shed light on the role played by Turkey in the rise of ISIS. Mr. McGurk, who served as the Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS during much of the war against the group, stated in September 2019:

“40,000 foreign fighters, jihadis from 110 countries around the world, all came into Syria to fight in that war, and they all came through Turkey. The Caliphate was on the border of Turkey. We worked with Turkey, I was in Turkey more than any other country, to have them seal their border, and they would not do it. They said they couldn’t do it. But the minute the Kurds took parts of the border it’s totally sealed with a wall. So, let’s be honest about the record.”

In a subsequent interview, Mr. McGurk also told CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour: 

“Most of the material coming to fuel the ISIS war machine, frankly, was coming across the border from Turkey into Syria… If you just look at the northern tier of Syria and just run across what is now the Turkey border, in Idlib province, that’s an area that we don’t operate in, it is really an area of influence for Turkey. It is really dominated now entirely by groups with ties to Al Qaeda. All the border crossings with Turkey are controlled by Al-Qaeda.”

We suggest that Mr. Blinken consult with Mr. McGurk, who played a major role in coordinating with members of the global coalition and forces on the ground in Iraq and Syria to defeat ISIS, before issuing baseless statements which ignore the sacrifices of over 11,000 Kurdish martyrs who heroically gave their lives to defeat the ISIS terrorists that Mr. Fidan’s state supported for years and now wishes to revive. Moreover, if the US wants to stop Al-Qaeda, then they should tell their NATO partner Turkey to end their cooperation with al-Qaida affiliate of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a rebranded branch of the group, in Idlib, Syria. At present, the Turkish military pays the salaries of ex-ISIS fighters and a branch of al-Qaida in northwest Syria, the same jihadists who Turkey has used to terrorize and ethnically cleanse the once peaceful region of Afrin over the last six years. 

As for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) themselves, Mr. Blinken should also be aware that they have never carried out an attack against the US, nor even made a single threat against US forces. They were only listed as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) by the Clinton Administration in 1997 as part of a weapons deal to sell helicopters to the Turkish military—which Ankara then used to help destroy over 4,000 Kurdish villages. 

We wish to remind Mr. Blinken that the fighters of the PKK put their lives on the line to defeat ISIS and directly saved over a hundred thousand Yazidis on Mount Sinjar in August 2014. When coming to the rescue of the Yazidi people who had been abandoned by other security forces as ISIS approached, the PKK also opened a corridor allowing Yazidis to escape the genocidal ISIS forces which killed thousands and displaced the majority of Iraq’s Yazidi population. During this time, the PKK also battled ISIS in the regions of Kirkuk and Makhmour, preventing ISIS from advancing to the city of Hewlêr (Erbil). Through both satellite surveillance and firsthand accounts from those who were on the ground, including Americans, the Pentagon is well aware of these facts, and Mr. Blinken would benefit from a briefing by those who participated in this war and ultimately eliminated the ISIS caliphate.

We would like to emphasise that Turkey has openly violated international law and human rights conventions by invading and occupying areas in Iraq and Syria, committing war crimes, displacing hundreds of thousands of civilians, and forcibly changing the demographics of these areas in the process. It is unacceptable that, instead of criticising the crimes committed by the Turkish state and its military, Blinken choses to repeat the propaganda of the regime responsible for so much of the instability and bloodshed in the region.

Lastly, we sincerely hope that Mr. Blinken did not greenlight another Turkish invasion and expansion of brutal occupation of Kurdish regions in Syria or Iraq. Just days ago, Erdoğan—who has been relentlessly bombing the infrastructure in Rojava for months—announced he was planning additional unprovoked attacks against the Kurds in South Kurdistan (Kurdistan Region of Iraq) in the weeks to come. At this time, we wish to know if Mr. Blinken co-signed onto Turkey’s new proposed campaign of genocide against the Kurds and if such libel against the PKK could be paving the way for a future justification for a Turkish ground invasion of other areas in Kurdistan.

We hope that Turkey will not choose to intensify its war against the Kurdish people, and we wish to remind the international community that the reality on the ground will not change. The PKK is a self-defense force of the Kurdish people and their best protection against future genocides by the Turkish state. The Kurdish people wish to live with dignity in their homeland, and will continue fighting for democracy, justice, peace, and the right to self-determination, trusting that the truth will set us free.”