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On this episode of Around The Empire, Dan and Joanne interview Syria expert Professor Joshua Landis on the battle for the Syrian city of Raqqa and the various competing forces in the Syrian Civil War.
Professor Landis discusses the difficulty the United States has in deciding who to work with once ISIS is driven out of its claimed capital of Raqqa. While, in theory, the Assad government is the only government recognized under international law, it appears unlikely that the U.S. will assist that government in reasserting jurisdiction.
Other factions in the Syrian Civil War on better terms with the U.S., such as Turkey and the Kurds, have their own designs for the city.
Such complexities mirror the larger struggle on how to govern Syria itself. Landis details a current plan to break up Syria into five statelets including; a Kurdish state (Rojava), Idlib state (currently run by Al Qaeda), Assad governed state, a southern state run by Jordanian militias backed by Israel, and a Euphrates valley state of Sunni Arab tribes.
Opposed to this structure are both the Kurds and the Assad government, who do not want a Sunni state backed by Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the other gulf states within Syria.
Landis believes Assad, backed by Iran and Russia, will ultimately prevail with a carve-out for the Kurds, who will continue to have U.S. backing.
Follow Josh on Twitter @Joshua_Landis