Trump 2021 budget proposes lower requested YPG funding

– Funding at least $100 million short of levels sought by Trump administration for 2020 fiscal year

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AA) – U.S. President Donald Trump's budget proposal for the 2021 fiscal year includes major cuts in requested funding-levels for the YPG, the Syrian offshoot of the PKK terrorist organization, compared to the previous year.

This proposal includes a request for $200 million for vetted Syrian opposition groups. The funding includes $94.3 million for training and equipping, $53.7 million earmarked for logistics, $48 million in stipends, $3 million for sustainment, and includes an infrastructure allocation of $1 million.

While the funding is for all Syrian groups cleared by the Trump administration, the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) would likely take the lion's share as it is Washington's main partner in the region.

Besides the SDF and its affiliated forces and groups, the Pentagon lists only Jaysh Maghawir al-Thawra (MaT) as a vetted force. That group is active in southeastern Syria near a U.S. garrison at a major crossroads straddling the Iraqi and Jordanian borders.

The Pentagon has relied on it for force protection in the area.

The defense budget request the Trump administration released last year sought $300 million for vetted Syrian opposition groups, $100 million more than this year's request, as well as an additional $250 million that was to be used for a since-defunct border security plan.

There are no funds allocated for the border plan in this year's budget request.

Trump's budget is a mere reflection of his administration's spending priorities, and is unlikely to match the congressionally-approved final version.

Congress ultimately signed off last year on $200 million to fund partner forces, which is in-line with the Pentagon's current request.

The PKK is a designated terrorist organization in Turkey and the U.S., but Washington has refrained from similarly labeling its Syrian cousin as it continues to rely heavily on the YPG as its primary partner in northeastern Syria despite Ankara's objections.

U.S. support for the YPG has been a major strain on U.S.-Turkish relations.