The victory of former Vice President Joe Biden in the US presidential election has raised expectations of renewed and constructive US engagement across the world. Such expectations are acutely felt by the Kurds of northeast Syria. Washington's top allies in the war against the Islamic State (IS) have suffered an undue share of tumult as a result of President Donald Trump’s erratic policies. His decision to green light Turkey’s October 2019 invasion, which resulted in the loss of a huge chunk of Kurdish-controlled territory and the withdrawal of US troops from the Turkish border, was a huge shock. But in the year that has elapsed since the Turkish assault, the Syrian Kurds — under the stewardship of Mazlum Kobane, the commander-in-chief of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) — have been striving to turn adversity into opportunity.
The universal outcry over Trump’s perceived betrayal of the Kurds led the US president to backtrack and keep several hundred US troops in northeast Syria. Trump said they would remain to protect several oil fields, which hold the bulk of Syria’s reserves.