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Noah Feldman

Syria's Kurds Work All the Angles for Autonomy

It's an idea that Syria, Russia and the U.S. all might be willing to tolerate. Turkey however ...
Small victories along the way.

Small victories along the way.

Photographer: Delil Souleiman/AFP/Getty Images

Outside the headlines, something remarkable is going on in Syria. The Kurds, making a long-term play for an autonomous region, seem to have decided that their best bet is to buy it from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. And the U.S. is signaling that it may be on-board -- a startling reflection of its pro-Russian, anti-Turkish policy.

The evidence for this reading of events starts with the upcoming fight for Raqqa, the headquarters of Islamic State. The so-called Syrian Democratic Forces, an umbrella group of fighters dominated by the Syrian Kurdish force known as the YPG, has reportedly gotten the green light to go ahead not only from the U.S. but also from Assad and Russia.