Analysis: 3 Qestions the helicopter incident in Iraq
It can be concluded that an agent who does not want to reveal its role in these dirty relations is probably using the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan as a subcontractor
In 3 questions, the retired Turkish colonel Yusuf Alabarda evaluated the underlying factors and possible actors involved in the latest helicopter incident in northern Iraq for Anadolu’s Analysis Department.
- Could the US be providing helicopters or alternative weapons to “SDF partners” in Syria?
The United States (US) openly denies her involvement in the helicopter incident where two helicopters crashed in northern Iraq. Pentagon Spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters that even they did not have any knowledge before that mission took place. Ryder also stated that the SDF has its own force and they conduct its own operations.
Despite Pentagon’s statement, the air space in Syria is strictly controlled by Russia and the United States (US). Especially fight against Daesh/ISIS is mostly carried out by coalition air force assets which require a full-scale air space control. Under such circumstances, flying all over from Syria to Iraq without registering is almost impossible. Any aircraft which does not inform the coalition and the US cannot simply fly in the region. All unregistered flights would be tracked.
Otherwise one can simply raise the question; ‘If flying in Syria is so easy with an unknown helicopter, without registering and without any flight tracking info, may the ISIS leaders have also been carried from one point to another by an unknown helicopter without the knowledge of the US?
It also seems impossible for the SDF or PKK to own their own helicopters for their goals in Syria and Iraq because Turkish authorities do not let any air assets belonging to these groups fly freely and carry terror groups from one country to another. However, it is known that the terrorist Abdo Mustafa Abdi, who was reported to have died in the helicopter accident, received pilot training. It is also known that another terrorist Azad Simi, code-named Çiya Muhammed, who carried out the Daglica and Aktutun outpost raids and terrorist attacks, flew in a US helicopter, as well.
Various claims have been made so far regarding the ownership of the helicopters. According to Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) officials, these helicopters were supplied to SDF by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). If true, this would be a tricky way of providing a helicopter to the SDF by hiding behind the PUK in order not to provoke Türkiye’s reaction.
- What could be the aims of possible perpetrators in arming the terrorist organization YPG/PKK?
There are huge efforts for mediating the Kurdish National Council of Syria (ENKS) in Iraq which positions itself against YPG for a long time. Without a doubt terrorist organization, PKK is the most important part of this equation. But all these coordination activities in these two countries are under the strict surveillance of Türkiye’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) which operates very successful anti-terror operations both in Syria and Iraq.
In order to avoid these anti-terror operations, the so-called senior leaders of the YPG can be assisted by providing helicopters. The Security Council of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq also made a statement that “The available information reveals that one side in Suleymaniyah is covertly and unofficially mediating the SDF and PKK relations and helping them in many different ways.” According to KDP officials, these helicopters were supplied to SDF by the PUK and these two helicopters were actually bought by a group within the PUK. However, KDP officials also do not know how they got into the hands of the SDF. From the above explanations, it can be concluded that an agent who does not want to reveal its role in these dirty relations is probably using the PUK as a subcontractor.
- If evidence is found on the armament of the PKK and its affiliates what would be the possible costs to the supplying states?
After the helicopter crash, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said supporters of the PKK were “caught red-handed once again” by giving helicopters to terrorists. “They should know that these efforts (of support) are futile. Our fight against terrorism will continue until the last remaining terrorist is neutralized” Akar also asserted.
Since Türkiye is so dedicated to fighting against terrorism until the last terrorist is neutralized, any contributor to terrorists will be on the target of Turkish authorities. The Turkish security forces and intel will focus from now on on the air assets of all countries flying in between Syria and Iraq because entering and leaving Iraq without informing the Iraqi authorities is a very critical security gap that should be addressed not only by Iraq but also by Türkiye. Probably that issue has already been addressed during Iraq’s Prime Minister Mohamed Shia al-Sudani’s visit to Türkiye on March 20, 2023.
If KDP’s statements come true that these helicopters were supplied to SDF by the PUK and if as the Security Council of the Kurdish Regional Government stated “one side in Suleymaniyah is covertly and unofficially mediating the SDF and PKK relations”, there is no doubt that this unknown party will pay the price.