Originally published: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/00438200211063520

06 December 2021 | Azad Deewanee

Published in the journal World Affairs, Season 2021


This article explores the construction of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Turkish official discourse. In the article, I employ critical discourse analysis (CDA) to analyze written texts produced during the years 2014–2019 that reflect the position of the Turkish authorities. The article sets out the main narratives that construct the PYD and YPG as terrorist organizations and posits them as a threat to both Turkey and the international community. The analysis reveals that these narratives serve the purpose of delegitimizing the PYD and YPG and legitimizing Turkish military operations and violations against Syrian Kurds. It highlights that the Turkish official position regarding the PYD and YPG is driven by two ideological factors: first, the influence of Kurdish autonomy in Syria on the action of Kurds in Turkey, and second, the barrier that the PYD and YPG have created against the Islamist agenda of Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Syria.

About the Author

Azad Deewanee obtained a PhD in Peace Studies from Bradford University. He previously worked as a lawyer and human rights advocate, and dealt with cases related to Kurds, Iraqis, Syrians, and others. His research focuses on the Middle Eastern conflicts, political discourse, terrorism, Jihadism, human rights, the Kurdish question, and U.S. policy in the Middle East.

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