Syria: How Much Does the Pentagon Pay for the YPG?


On the regular subsidies of U.S. imperialism for its mercenaries in Syria


By Michael Pröbsting, International Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 24 February 2020,




As it is well known, U.S. imperialism controls the Eastern part of Syria (about 1/3 of the whole country). They did achieve this under the pretext of the so-called “War on Terror” against the reactionary forces of Daesh/IS. While the U.S. provided the air force, artillery and Special Forces, most troops under the command of the Pentagon were not Americans but fighters of the Kurdish YPG/SDF. The YPG provides until today the main forces for the U.S. control of Eastern Syria.


In the history of colonialism and imperialism, it has been often the case that the masters did not use their own troops to achieve their goals but rather local forces. They are usually cheaper than the own imperialist soldiers and, furthermore, reducing the potential losses among them also reduces the potential political costs at home. [1] Hence, the British colonialists often used Indian troops for their military operations in South Asia. The U.S. has strongly relied on their Afghan allies since the beginning of their occupation in 2001. In the case of Syria it is the Kurdish YPG which provides the main contingent of the U.S.-led forces on the ground. In fact, the YPG/SDF acts as mercenaries for U.S. imperialism in Syria.


Naturally, mercenaries are not for free but have to be paid. Recently published articles revealed how much U.S. imperialism is paying for its allies in Syria. According to this information, the Pentagon plans to spend $900 million in the so-called fight against Daesh/IS in 2021. This means a 30% cut from current year levels – reflecting the increasing difficulties of U.S. imperialism to keep the level of global engagement of its military. In fact, as the RCIT has repeatedly pointed out, the U.S. is a Great Power which is in decline as its days as absolute hegemon are over. [2]


The largest part of the Pentagon’s budget for this purpose, $645 million, shall go to the Iraqi forces allied to the U.S. As it is well know, U.S. influence in Iraq is crucial for Washington in its conflict with Iran. [3]


$200 million of the Pentagon’s Anti-IS budget shall be paid for the YPG/SDF. [4] That sum should finance about 10,000 SPG/SDF fighters plus weaponry. This year, the YPG/SDF received $300 million from the Pentagon. [5]


There can be no doubt that the total sum which the YPG/SDF gets from U.S. imperialism is higher. First, there are also other U.S. departments which support these mercenaries. Among them are the U.S. State Department, the CIA as well as other U.S. agencies. In addition, there are also hidden payments. For example, in a recently released audit, “the Defense Department’s inspector general said the special operations joint task force for the US-led defeat-IS mission failed to properly account for nearly $716 million in American taxpayer-funded weapons for the Syrian opposition. [6]


These figures are not surprising for Marxists. They confirm once more that the YPG/SDF acts as mercenaries for U.S. imperialism. It is a shame that irrespective of their role as “Servants of the Dollar”, numerous so-called “left-wing” parties and groups still uncritically hail the YPG leadership as “progressive”, “internationalist” or even “socialist”. In fact, the YPG leadership betrayed the interests of the Kurdish liberation struggle as they failed to link this with the Great Arab Revolution which started in 2011. Instead they rather looked for a deal with the Assad dictatorship and offered their service to U.S. imperialism. [7]


We repeat that it is the duty of authentic democrats and socialists to support the popular uprising in Syria and other countries in the Middle East and to combine them with an anti-imperialist strategy directed both against U.S. as well as Russian imperialism. [8]




[1] As we have pointed out in past works, degenerated Western imperialist societies today have a pretty low acceptance limit for losses of their own soldiers. They are willing to kill indiscriminately people in the South but are highly sensitive for losing some of their own. Israel lost the Lebanon War in 2006 against Hezbollah because the public opinion felt that 121 dead Israeli soldiers were too many. For more on this see e.g. the chapter “The Moral Crisis in the Western Imperialist Countries” (pp. 229-230) in our book by Michael Pröbsting: Anti-Imperialism in the Age of Great Power Rivalry. The Factors behind the Accelerating Rivalry between the U.S., China, Russia, EU and Japan. A Critique of the Left’s Analysis and an Outline of the Marxist Perspective, RCIT Books, January 2019,

[2] See on this e.g. the above mentioned book Anti-Imperialism in the Age of Great Power Rivalry”.

[3] See on the confrontations between the US and Iran the following RCIT statements: The U.S. Aggression against Iran and Revolutionary Tactics. Defend Iran against any imperialist aggression! But no political support for the reactionary Mullah Regime in Teheran! Continue the popular liberation struggles of the Syrian, Iraqi, Yemeni and Iranian people!, 06 January 2020,; Yossi Schwartz: Iraq: Down with U.S. Imperialism, 31.12.2019,; Michael Pröbsting: What did the latest Near-War between the U.S. and Iran Reveal? Some Notes on the Inner Contradictions of the US Policy in the Middle East, 11 January 2020,; Michael Pröbsting: Iranian General Soleimani: Neither Anti-Imperialist nor Pro-People, 14 January 2020,; Aramco Attack: Defeat the US/Saudi/Israeli Warmongers! Defend Iran against any imperialist aggression! But no political support for the reactionary Mullah Regime in Teheran! 16 September 2019,; Strait of Hormuz: Escalating Tensions between the US/UK and Iran. Drive the Great Powers out of the Middle East! But no political support for the reactionary Mullah Regime in Teheran! 22 July 2019,; Iran: Down with Trump’s Sanctions and Military Threats! But no political support for the reactionary Mullah Regime in Teheran! 11 May 2019,; Warmongering in the Middle East: Down with all Imperialist Great Powers and Capitalist Dictatorships! 13 May 2018,

[4] Jack Detsch: Pentagon slashes funding for Islamic State fight, February 10, 2020

[5] Jack Detsch: SDF avoids fight with Trump over budget cut, February 20, 2020

[6] Ibid

[7] On the role of the YPG/SDF see also RCIT: Syria: Assad Regime and Kurdish YPG Strike a Reactionary Deal, 15 October 2019,; Syria: The Shameful Alliance of the Saudi Monarchy and the “Left-Wing” YPG, 4 July 2019,; The Revelations of a U.S. General on Washington’s Allies in Syria. Another Blow to the Stalinist Myths about the Character of Syrian Liberation Fighters and the Role of the Kurdish SDF/YPG, 27.10.2017,; Kissing the Feet of the Saudi Chainsaw-Crown Prince. On the Shameful Response of the Kurdish YPG on the Killing of the Saudi Journalist Kashoggi, 20.10.2018,

[8] The RCIT has published a number of booklets, statements, and articles on the Syrian Revolution that can be accessed on a special sub-section of this website: Our latest statement is this: Syria: Don’t Let Idlib Die! Support the heroic Syrian people fighting in the last trenches against the barbarous onslaught by Assad and Putin! 10 February 2020,