Antifa and the YPG: An Ideological Partnership
09 Haziran 2020

Antifa has recently drawn the world’s attention towards itself as President Trump announced the group guilty of on-going chaos in the US. The protests and unrest in the streets of several American cities had been triggered by the death of an African-American George Floyd caused by a police officer.  On May 31, almost a week after civic unrest in the streets of Minneapolis and several other American cities, Donald Trump found whom to blame.  Holding the Antifa movement responsible for instability in the country, he made public his intention of formally declaring the group as a terrorist one.[1]

According to the US President, Antifa is to take the blame for the consequences of Trump’s inability to settle down civic unrest. Many of Antifa affiliates are held responsible for brutal protests from American Portland to France, and Germany. Moreover, recent years have brought about the group’s other face: it gained into a trained armed side. The group’s first “armed performance” took place in a civil war-torn Syria, where it had melded into the leftist terrorist structures of YPG/PKK.  Meanwhile, Turkey tries to remind of a linkage existing between Antifa and a terrorist group YPG, whom America, despite a bunch of evidence provided by Turkey, sees as its ally in Syria.

Neither the existence of Antifa nor its cooperation (even integration) with PKK/YPG in Syria is something new. The PKK’s antifascist International Tabur was established in Syria as part of the YPG in 2016. Antifa joined YPG (PKK’s Syrian branch) under the pretext of fighting ISIS in Syria. As mentioned before, the YPG/PKK is responsible for Antifa’s militarization. A former oil facility turned into a training camp called the Academy in the hills of north-eastern Syria, is where the training has been taking place.[2] Fighting along with YPG became alluring for many Antifa- affiliated Western citizens akin to the ideas of far-left including communists, socialists, and anarchists.

The Antifa movement is active in Syria under the umbrella of YPG at least since 2016, but the first individuals joined the YPG as early as 2012. The group-affiliates had multiply fought alongside YPG terrorist formations and Turkey had neutralized several Antifa militants in Syria during its Operation Euphrates Shield, Olive Branch, and Peace Spring.

The Antifa movement not only co-sides as well as ideologically parallels with YPG/PKK terrorist formations. A recently published Daily Sabah peace sheds a light on the ideological parallels between two radical leftist formations – Antifa and YPG/ PKK.[3] A historian Mark Bray in his book “Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook” provides essential insights in this regard. According to it, both groups share a notion of libertarian municipalism and “Democratic Confederalism”; the concepts laid out by Murray Bookchin.  In other words, both groups, share a similar ideological understanding of a leftist cause in a form of horizontal collective working aimed at defending and delivering social revolution.

Ironically, the United States that is maybe about to declare Antifa a domestic terrorist organization, has been providing military and financial support to the group’s close ally- YPG- for years.

[1] Suerth, Jessica. “What Is Antifa?” CNN. Cable News Network, May 31, 2020.

[2] Harp, Seth. “The Untold Story of Syria’s Antifa Platoon.” Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone, August 14, 2018.

[3] Daily Sabah. “Antifa and YPG/PKK Share Same Ideological Ground for Terrorism.” Daily Sabah. Daily Sabah, June 2, 2020.