Pentagon dodges SDF ‘rebranding' question
The Pentagon on Monday eluded questions regarding statements from a spokesman who said the U.S. urged the PKK's Syrian affiliate the Democtraic Union Party's (PYD) armed Peoples Protection Units (YPG) to "rebrand" itself to make the group more acceptable to Turkey.
"I don't have anything on that," was spokesman Jeff Davis' response to an Anadolu Agency (AA) question about the comments delivered last week by Army Gen. Raymond Thomas at a security conference.
Thomas said the U.S. urged its main Syrian ally to rebrand itself as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to avoid Turkish concerns and to give what Ankara calls a terrorist group a voice in Syria's future. Davis on Monday claimed he did not have information on the issue.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan criticized the name change suggestion, saying it would not hide their "terrorist activities."
"The YPG is a terrorist organization," Erdoğan insisted, adding: "Whatever they do, they cannot hide the obvious. This is clear from top to bottom."
The U.S. has supported the YPG along with several other Arab militia groups under the umbrella of the SDF. Washington continues to provide those groups with arms and equipment against strong objections from Ankara, which views the PYD and YPG as the Syrian offshoot of the PKK terrorist group, which has waged a deadly 30-year campaign against the Turkish state. It is a designated terror group in Turkey, the U.S. and the EU.
Criticizing the name change remarks coming from the U.S., Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Chairman Devlet Bahçeli said it would not affect aims of the group.
"What is the importance of its name? If this change is not the declaration of the obvious, what is it? How will the change in the name cover the murders and betrayals? Terrorism is terrorism everywhere. A terrorist is a terrorist and is inglorious everywhere. It does not matter whether it is the YPG, SDF, FETÖ [Gülenist Terror Group] or PKK. There is no difference between them, not even a little bit. The arms support from the U.S. has turned into a national security problem," Bahçeli said.