They’re both key to US goals in the Middle East, but they’re bitterly opposed to one another. Turkey has bombed Kurdish positions in Iraq. The airstrikes could hamper Washington’s war against ‘IS.’
According to the Turkish government, there’s no difference between “Islamic State” and the Kurdish militant group PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party). They’re both terrorist organizations.
“Whichever terrorist organization poses a threat to the borders of the Turkish Republic, measures will be taken without hesitation,” said Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu after Turkey launched operations against both groups. “No-one should have any doubt.”
But the secular PKK has proven one of the most effective adversaries of the “Islamic State” group, according to Michael Gunter, who’s written several books on the Kurds. So effective, that there have been calls in the US to remove the PKK from the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations.
“The US should do it,” Gunter, a professor at Tennessee Tech University, told DW. “The US has been in effect supporting the PKK by supporting the affiliate of the PKK, the PYD [Kurdish Democratic Union Party], in Syria.”