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Fight against IS helps PKK gain global legitimacy

Western officials say that given the Islamic State threat, it is only a matter of time before their governments initiate formal ties with the Kurdistan Workers Party and the Democratic Union Party, despite objections from Turkey.
Civilians and members of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) gesture and raise flags atop a tank that belonged to fighters from the al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), in al-Manajeer village of Ras al-Ain countryside January 28, 2014. REUTERS/Rodi Said (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT) - RTX17YNR

As the United States presses ahead with assembling an international coalition to “degrade and destroy” the Islamic State (IS), two potentially critical players are coming to the fore: the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and its Syrian Kurdish franchise, the People’s Protection Units (YPG). Their ascent has been amply chronicled by Al-Monitor columnist Kadri Gursel and Al-Monitor contributor Mohamed A. Salih.

The PKK and YPG have proven to be the most effective forces in the battle against IS both in Iraq and in Syria, never so much as when they shepherded tens of thousands of Yazidi Kurds marooned on Mount Sinjar, in northwestern Iraq, to safety and helped Iraqi peshmerga retake the town of Makhmour.

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