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Perspective The U S Rewards Offer for Three Top Leaders

Perspective | The U.S. Rewards Offer for Three Top Leaders of the PKK: A Well-Thought-Out Plan?

What are the backstage strategic calculations of the U.S. rewards offer? What are the expected initial reactions of the relevant actors? What are the pragmatic implications of the rewards offer in terms of the interests of the relevant actors?

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On November 6, 2018, the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Palmer announced that the U.S. Department of State’s Rewards for Justice Program has pledged to put bounties for information leading to the identification or location of the three senior leaders of the PKK: Murat Karayilan, namely the military commander of the terrorist group (up to USD $5 million; the PKK’s co-founder Cemil Bayik (up to USD $4 million); and Duran Kalkan, a prominent member of the executive council of the umbrella organization Koma Civaken Kurdistan (KCK) (up to USD $3 million).1 Regarding the timing of the statement, it can be said that the United States intended to kill two birds with one stone. First, the U.S. tried to appease Turkey which feels emboldened and ready for conducting comprehensive and effective operations at the east side of the Euphrates River. Secondly, the U.S. tried to instrumentalize the YPG against the Iranian-backed militias in Syria with an attempt to reformulate and dissociate the YPG from the PKK; an attempt that ultimately aimed to legitimize the YPG as a local actor...