Rafik Hariri Center Nonresident Fellow Aaron Stein cowrites for Al Jazeera on why despite the fact that the Kurds are good allies on paper, alienating Syria’s central regions may cause more trouble for the United States:
The recent capture of the Syrian border town of Tal Abyad held by the fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), by Syrian Kurdish forces (known as the YPG) is a major development in the course of the war in Syria.
The result is that Kurdish forces are now poised to control the vast majority of Syria’s border with Turkey and now constitute a fighting force of some 50,000 fighters, backed by US airpower, operating in a united stretch of territory.
The Democratic Union Party (PYD) which largely represents the Syrian Kurds, has stated that its priority is now focused on uniting historical Kurdish areas of Syria (known as Rojava), stretching from Afrin to the Tigris river into one contiguous land mass. Additionally, it has signalled that defeating ISIL in its heartlands would not be anathema to solidifying its control across much of northern Syria.This suggests that the YPG will push west towards the ISIL-controlled town of Jarabulus, moving weapons and manpower from the main canton of Jazeera to assist in any future offensive. The YPG is also expected to continue its push towards ISIL strongholds, by surrounding its de-facto capital Raqqa.