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By Ollie Richardson

After months and months of fighting in Aleppo, resulting in a race to create (US & Co) and prevent (Russia & Co) demarcation lines for the partition of the oldest city in Syria – the East controlled by the “moderates”, the West by the Syrian government – a new race has emerged involving the US-backed YPG: from Al-Malikiyah to Afrin, in order to create Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava).

Kurds Rojeva
This race will pass through (right to left) Al-Hasakah, Kobani, Manbij, and Jarablus, and should all the cities be captured, it will grant the Kurds a State within northern Syria. A large complex battle has emerged in Al-Hasakah between the Kurds, ISIS, SDF, and the Syrian Army. Russia has attempted to negotiate with the Kurds, who want the Syrian Army to withdraw immediately from the city, and on the evening of the 22nd August 2016, Turkey launched an artillery barrage on the YPG. If this single battle is anything to go by, the race will last a long time, and may not even reach its conclusion.

The Pentagon’s position is clear – they will support the Kurds in their “fight against ISIS”, which is actuality a fight against Assad. The liberation of the city of Manbij from ISIS on August 12th by the YPG and SDF can now be understood as a premature move to establish a Kurdish State, but Turkey has enough proxies on its payroll to prevent the capture of cities like Afrin. A spanner in the works are the “moderate” rebels and Al-Nusra, who surely will not simply allow the Kurds to create a partition corridor.

Despite Ankara’s new rhetoric (“Assad could be part of a transitional government”), Turkey actually needs Syria, Russia, and Iran to help them curb US-backed efforts to create Kurdish autonomy right on its border. Turkish PM Binali Yıldırım is quoted as saying on 22nd August 2016, “we cannot accept a Kurdish corridor on our southern border.”  The battle of Al-Hasakah could turn out to be more important than the battle of Aleppo, simply because there is a legitimate chance of a Kurdish State being formed, as opposed to an Islamic Emirate. 

The following string of tweets is a very good explanation of the Syrian-Kurdish dynamic:

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