World powers and Middle East regional players continue to strain without success to find a formula for winding down the war in Syria and contain its expanding terrorist spillover. But political leaders in one corner of the country are moving ahead with state-building plans of their own, undeterred by the skepticism and resistance of their critics.
Syria’s Kurds are sharply focused and achieving measurable success on a two-track campaign. On one track, their military forces, working in conjunction with the U.S. and other local minorities, are pushing hard against the self-declared Islamic State, making territorial gains and now pressuring the group in the vital town of Manbij. The second track is political, and there, too, the Kurds are forging ahead with steady efforts in pursuit of self-determination.
As the Kurds move forward, they are on a collision course with local, regional and global powers. And yet, Syrian Kurdish leaders are creating facts on the ground. Their autonomy, recognized or not, is already a reality.