LET THE MAN GO -RELEASE SALEH MUSLIM NOW

The Jerusalem Post - Israel NewsThe arrest in a Prague hotel of former Syrian Kurdish PYD (Democratic Union Party) leader Saleh Muslim Muhammad is a test case. Its outcome will establish the extent to which the central role against Islamic State played by Syrian Kurds has accrued some broader political legitimacy for their leadership and organizations.

The former PYD leader, who remains among the most prominent and influential of Syrian Kurdish leaders, is set to appear before a Czech court this week. The Turks are seeking his extradition. If extradited, he will with certainty be convicted and might face incarceration for the rest of his life. Kurdish media are calling his capture the most significant apprehension of a Kurdish leader by the Turks since that of PKK founder and leader Abdullah Ocalan in 1998.
The US built the Syrian Democratic Forces – the main instrument for the defeat of IS in its Syrian heartland – around the YPG. Recent statements by senior US officials have indicated that the US intends to remain committed to its allies in Eastern Syria, and to maintain forces in the part of Syria they control, an area covering some 27% of Syrian territory that includes its main oil and gas fields.

he Syrian Kurds declared the establishment of the “Democratic Federation of Northern Syria” over their area of control in March, 2016.

No Western country has recognized or acknowledged this declaration. The Federation, which is today the governing structure in an area where US forces are located, remains entirely isolated diplomatically, even as its armed forces call in US air strikes and work on a daily basis with American Special Forces.

The ties between the PYD and the PKK are at the root of this. The latter has for the last 34 years been engaged in an insurgency against Turkey, demanding autonomy for the country’s Kurds. It is listed as a terrorist organization by both the US and the European Union. Turkey’s warrant against Saleh Muslim, a non-citizen of Turkey, depicts him as a militant member of the PKK.

The question now is whether the involvement of the PYD with the war against IS has acquired a degree of de facto legitimacy for it in the eyes of the West, even in the absence of formal political recognition.

If so, Western pressure on the Czech Republic will lead almost certainly to Muslim’s release, indicating an embryonic, unspoken political alliance now existing between the Syrian Kurdish leadership and the West. This will produce further fury on the part of NATO-member Turkey’s Islamist and increasingly authoritarian leadership.

The United States must pressure Czech to release Saleh without turning him over to the Turkish Dog Erdogan.

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