Syria’s Civil War is no broad two-faction conflict, but a seemingly unending array of minor battles between myriad different groups over different territory, complex and unpredictable.
Most of the fighting is stalemated, but the most recent territorial gains have been from Kurdish militias, which have ousted al-Qaeda from dozens of towns in the nation’s northeast in recent weeks. For a lot of factions, this is a somewhat welcome shift, with Western nations hoping it somewhat blunts the impact of al-Qaeda’s dominance over the rebellion and gives the more moderate (i.e. Western bankrolled) factions a chance to reassert themselves.
For Turkey it’s a big problem though. Turkey embraced the rebellion early on, envisioning a Sunni Arab nationalist Syria that would weaken Kurdish autonomy bids, but instead finding Islamist incursions uniting Kurdish blocs and pushing them toward de facto independence.
In Iraq, long-standing concerns about Kurdish autonomy may be falling by the wayside, however, as the central government comes to appreciate them as an effective foil for al-Qaeda. Either way, the Kurdish surge looks to leave a lasting imprint of northeastern Syria, and further complicates the overall war.