World

The retreat of President Bashar al-Assad’s forces from parts of northeastern Syria along the Turkish border might have been welcomed by Turkey, a key supporter of the Syrian rebellion, except for one thing: The region is predominantly Kurdish, and Ankara fears the resulting power vacuum will be a major boon to its number one enemy, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) whose three-decade separatist insurgency has seen some 40,000 people killed.

Until recently, Syria’s Kurds had been divided. A coalition of roughly a dozen Kurdish parties had tentatively backed the popular uprising against Assad, while the PKK’s Syrian ally, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), appeared to align itself with the Syrian regime, intimidating opposition activists and quashing popular protests. Others sat on the sidelines, wary of closing ranks with a Sunni Arab-dominated opposition that turned a deaf ear to Kurdish demands for new rights in a post-Assad Syria. Two weeks…

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