You do not need a PhD in intelligence to understand what is happening. Ahrar al-Sham, largely supported by Qatar and Turkey, is at war with al-Nusrah whose support has come from Saudi Arabia (and Qatar in the past) and, so far as the Syrians are concerned, from the United States. For the Syrians, the Qatar-Saudi dispute is now being fought out on the ground between the two sides’ proxies in the Syrian war. The first battles broke out in Tel Torgan in Aleppo province and then expanded to Saragib in the countryside round Idlib. In Saragib, it appears, Nusrah killed every Ahrar man they found. Now Ahrar al-Sham have an alliance with the Turkmani groups and the gloriously named ‘Nureddin Zinki’, local fighters who once played a role in the capture of eastern Aleppo. The real Nureddin al-Zinki – or Zengi as he would have been called at the time – was a 12th century Seljuk emir of Damascus and Aleppo who fought the Crusaders but who, ironically, was also trapped in a series of internecine battle with regional Arab rivals.It's not clear who Fiske is interviewing in the air-conditioned apartment in Aleppo, if it's Syrian intelligence or regular men off the street; nonetheless, the opinion rendered is a bleak one for Rojava:
But it was the Kurdish fighters who enraged the men in the room almost as much as Isis and Nusrah. “The Kurds think they can form their own canton in northern Syria,” said the man beside the desk. “They are like the Israelis – they are telling the world that they are alone, surrounded by enemies and must be protected. But 80 per cent of the Kurdish people do not want to be separated from Syria. The Kurds like to think they can link up with the Americans, the Germans, the French, the Turks, with all of these big states.
“But Russia was betrayed by them. These Kurdish groups are liars. We gave them weapons to fight the terrorists – now we no longer give them weapons to protect themselves. We did not give them weapons so that they could make states. Now they are fully supplied by the Americans.”
Much nodding of heads around the room. The Kurds will clearly get no state in the north of the country if Syria has its way. “The Kurds are very afraid from Turkey,” the man beside the desk continued. “You know how the Kurds after the First World War lost everything. They did not get a state. They were the first losers, they were like a doll in the game of powers. They killed half the people of Cilicia, Armenians and Cilicians. Now they are trying to play the game again in the politics of the region – but they will lose.”
The rebels will surrender or die. This was the mood – hopelessly simplistic or true, depending on your point of view – in the air-conditioned room in that Aleppo apartment block. But woe betide the Kurds of northern Syria when the war is over.It's hard to imagine the U.S. letting go of its bases in Rojava, particularly with the Western-patron-pleasing announcement of local elections. But if Trump is still seriously considering retreat from Afghanistan, then it's possible.