Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has said that there’s a conflict between the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the leader of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
In an interview, Soylu said that SDF chief Mazloum Kobani, whose legal name is Ferhat Abdi Şahin, is not being embraced by pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and the PKK.
“There’s a conflict between Qandil and Ferhat Abdi Şahin,” Soylu told daily Hürriyet on Nov. 22, as he referred to PKK headquarters in Qandil Mountains in northern Iraq.
The minister also said that the PKK “invests” in former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, who has been imprisoned on charges related to the PKK for over three years, adding that the PKK has an internal conflict about its leader, Abdullah Öcalan.
“The PKK has a stance against Şahin because he was the one meeting with the U.S. in all the operations carried out in Syria. The U.S. is trying to legalize Şahin, while Qandil and the HDP don’t embrace him. This is an interesting situation. They should embrace this man, who is being tried to be legalized internationally, but they don’t,” Soylu said.
Kobani has been the source of a rift between Turkey and the U.S., with the latter maintaining dialogue with him despite the former’s objections.
U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly praised Kobani after Turkey launched its military offensive in northern Syria with the aims of clearing the border from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and establishing a safe zone.
Turkey perceives the YPG, which is the leading group in the SDF, as a terrorist organization due to it being the Syrian affiliate of the PKK.
In the interview, Soylu said that the PKK withdrew its militants from Afrin during Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch in 2018 in order to “put Şahin in a difficult position.”
“The PKK tried to lay the failure there on Şahin and tried to create the perception that he can’t rule the YPG both within the group and the public,” the minister said.
“Selahattin Demirtaş, Öcalan and their derivatives are centered in this internal conflict. For the first time, we see that a terrorist organization is entering state control,” he said, referring to Washington’s collaboration with the YPG.
“Selahattin Demirtaş is the person Qandil is investing in. They’re preparing him,” Soylu added.