Mazloum Kobani Abdi
Mazloum Abdi in October 2019
|Birth name||Ferhat Abdi Şahin|
|Other name(s)||Noms de guerre:|
|Born||c. 1967 (aged 51–52)|
|Allegiance|| PKK (1990–2012) |
|Years of service||2015–present|
Syrian Civil War
Ferhat Abdi Şahin (born c. 1967), better known by his nom de guerre Mazloum Kobani Abdi[a] (Kurdish: Mezlûm Ebdî – Arabic: مظلوم عبدي) and his previous nom de guerre Şahin Cilo is a Syrian Kurdish military leader, serving as the commander-in-chief[b] of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Abdi was born as "Ferhat Abdi Şahin" to Syrian Kurdish parents at Kobanî around 1967. Trained as a civil engineer at the University of Aleppo, Abdi joined Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) within Syria in 1990 and was imprisoned five times by the Syrian authorities. While serving with the PKK in Syria, he became a personal friend of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan. Abdi later conducted militant activities in rural areas of Şemdinli, Turkey in 1996.
He left to Europe in 1997 where he was engaged in political work until 2003, when he travelled to Iraq where he was involved in military work. He served as member of the PKK high command in 2005, and became a member of the People's Defense Forces' (HPG) special operations board from 2009 until 2011/12, when he was sent to Syria by the PKK in order to organise the defense of the Syrian Kurdish population amid the escalating Syrian Civil War. In August 2014 he was in charge of the negotiations the People's Protection Units (YPG) held in Sulaymaniya with Iran and the United States in order to form an effective alliance against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), after which an alliance with the US was agreed to. As the commander of the SDF, Abdi commands 70,000 troops. Abdi has stated that he is open to work with the Syrian government within a federal system that includes the existing de facto autonomous region of Rojava. On 29 June 2019 Abdi, as representative of the SDF, signed the action plan of the United Nations aiming to prevent the enlistment of child soldiers in the armed forces.
In the wake of the 2019 Turkish offensive into north-eastern Syria, Abdi has stated his willingness to work with the Syrian regime and Russia and to make painful compromises with them in order to protect the local population of northeastern Syria from potential "genocide" by "Turkey and its jihadi mercenaries". As part of a deal with the SDF, Syrian government troops have been given permission to enter the cities of Manbij and Kobanî in the hopes of deterring further Turkish aggression.
In October 2019, a group of US Senators suggested that the US State Department give Abdi a visa so that he would be able to discuss Syria in the United States. In response, the Turkish Minister of Justice Abdulhamit Gül criticized the US government for treating Abdi as a "legitimate political figure" and indicated that an extradition request had been issued so that if Abdi would enter US territory, he should be detained to be extradited to Turkey. As ninth upon the Turkish government's most-wanted terrorist list, Abdi has a 9 million lira reward offered by Turkey for help in his capture. Abdi's increasing regional and international prominence has led to tensions between the YPG and PKK, as the latter frowns upon "personal popularity". Accordingly, the PKK leadership is wary of Abdi's "success and flourishing reputation" as well as his close connections to the United States.
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