Unlike the US, Dutch government refuses to support Syrian Kurds

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Kurdish fighters of the YPG and YPJ gathering in al-Hawl after liberating the town from ISIS militants. Photo: ARA News

ARA News 

THE HAGUE – Although the United States sees the Syrian Kurdish forces of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) as an effective partner, the Dutch government has concerns about working with the YPG, the Dutch government said last week in response to questions about the Dutch contribution to the fight against ISIS.

The Dutch government doesn’t see any interests in working with the YPG despite the short-term interest in fighting ISIS. “In the YPG-ruled areas, there is no democracy or pluralistic rule, and in some cases Arab civilians were displaced,” the government said on Thursday, while also referring to an Amnesty report that accused the YPG of human rights abuses. 

“Other concerns are ties the PYD [political leadership of the YPG] has with the PKK [Kurdistan Workers Party] and the Syrian government. Moreover, the PYD in the last few months had direct confrontations with rebel groups, which include moderate opposition groups backed by the Netherlands,” the government said.

Although the Dutch government recognizes that Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra, as a terror group, it still supports projects in areas under Nusra control in Aleppo and Idlib. The Netherlands also backs Syrian opposition rebels after a vetting-procedure, which includes conditions that these groups do not cooperate with extreme groups.

Speaking to ARA News in The Hague, Dutch MP for the Socialist Party (SP) Harry van Bommel said that the Dutch government does not back the Syrian Kurds because of Turkey, which sees supporting the PYD as a big risk, and criticized the US-led coalition for backing the Kurds.

“Turkey considers the PYD as an ally to the PKK. We think that the Syrian Kurds should be considered as an ally to the West, and they actually deserve political support for their democratic ambitions in Rojava [Syria’s Kurdish region]. Also, there should be more pressure on Turkey to allow humanitarian aid to reach Rojava,” van Bommel said.

Nevertheless, the Dutch army has sent military experts to provide training to the Iraqi Kurds, and the Dutch government committed itself to pay one million euros to buy ammunition and military equipment for the Kurdish Peshmerga forces, as part of an American support program.

Although the Netherlands does not support the YPG, it did confirm that the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are leading major battles against ISIS. 

The Dutch government also said that until now there is no offensive on the city of Raqqa. “The offensive operations of the Syrian Kurds and their Arab allies (the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces) are so far limited to the north of Raqqa. There is no attack so far on Raqqah city,” the government said in a public statement.

“The SDF also started an operation to take Manbij, in the ISIS-controlled areas near the Turkish border. This city is surrounded. The operation was expected to take place for a while, and ISIS militants had time to prepare themselves. It is expected that ISIS, just as in earlier cases, will carry out a tough defence,” it concluded.

Reporting: Wladimir van Wilgenburg 

Source: ARA News 

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