The YPG claims the Turkish president failing to win another term would be payback for Ankara’s counter-terrorism operations in Syria
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s defeat in this month’s presidential election would serve as “revenge” for Türkiye’s military operations in Syria, a top official of the People’s Defense Units (YPG) has said.
Salih Muslim, one of the leaders of the YPG — a Syrian militant group affiliated with the Turkish Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and designated by Ankara as a terrorist organization — said in an interview with Medya Haber Kurdish TV channel that his organization has grown frustrated with Türkiye’s counterterrorism operations ongoing in the northern part of Syria since 2016, Daily Sabah reported.
“Now, we have an opportunity in our hands,” Muslim said, stressing that the YPG is eager to see Erdogan unseated. “It’s the first time we have such a thing happening in elections.” He added that “If we can win at the ballot box, we will take all the revenge from [the defeat of] one person.”
Muslim’s statement comes as several members of the YPG and the PKK have openly expressed support for Erdogan’s main challenger, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, as the two head into a runoff election on May 28. In the previous round, held on May 14, both candidates failed to secure an outright majority with Erdogan gaining just over 49.4% of the vote while Kilicdaroglu received 44.96%.
Kilicdaroglu has vowed to mend Ankara’s relations with NATO and revive Türkiye’s EU membership talks, which have been effectively stalled since 2016. He has also accused Russia of spreading “conspiracies” and “deep fakes” apparently referring to footage circulating online purportedly linking him to the PKK, and told Moscow to get its “hands off the Turkish state.” Russia has rejected the accusations.
Erdogan has repeatedly accused his rival of “colluding with terrorists” and threatening to undo Türkiye’s achievements in its war on terror. He has also blasted Kilicdaroglu for trying to “detach” the country from Russia.
Türkiye has been waging low-intensity warfare against Kurdish militias along its Syrian and Iraqi borders for four decades, in a back-and-forth campaign that has claimed the lives of over 40,000 people.
The PKK and its affiliates have been waging an insurgency since 1984 demanding political and cultural autonomy with the final goal of establishing an independent Kurdish State, laying claim to territories in southeast Türkiye and northern parts of Iraq and Syria.