This was probably not what Salih Muslim, the leader of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), had in mind. He had struck a deal with Syrian President Bashar Assad and secured the regime's indirect support. In return for not assisting the Free Syrian Army (FSA), Assad pledged financial support and accepted the formation of an autonomous Kurdish region in northern Syria to which Kurds refer to as Rojava. In a way, the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) proved quite beneficial for the PYD, since the central government's losses against the militants, including its control over half the country, made the organization more valuable to the regime. ISIS, moreover, served to weaken the FSA. Let us also add that almost everyone based their assessments on the assumption that ISIS would only last a short period of time.
Similarly, Muslim probably dreamed of forming an autonomous or even independent polity in Rojava when things calmed down. As such, Kurds would have finally realized their century-old dream of establishing an independent nation-state. Furthermore, such a development would represent an important accomplishment for modernist and leftist Kurdish movements to effectively alleviate their sense of inferiority to Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani's right-leaning model in Iraq. There is more of course. The idea of Rojava had been constructed in line with imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan's thinking and, according to Kurds themselves, presented an avant-garde model to the rest of the world. As such, its survival carries major psychological importance for the movement.
Whether or not this win-win situation represented a realistic scenario for the PYD, however, almost always went unnoticed. The Kurds wanted to realize the dream of Rojava so badly that they did not seem to have any energy left to devote to realism. They wished that ISIS would be stopped at some point, a balance of power would emerge between Assad and ISIS, and the FSA would become less influential and that the PYD would thereby emerge as the dominant force in northern Syria.
The plans, however, did not work out after all. ISIS not only invaded Rojava but also cut all the ties between the three Kurdish cantons in the area. Today, the organization keeps Kobani under siege from three sides, making the Turkish border the town's sole connection to the outside world. Although the U.S.-led coalition continues to launch airstrikes on ISIS targets, everyone seems to agree that the current operation will prove inadequate. The question then, relates to which forces will be part of a ground operation and which governments will opt for a supporting role. Naturally, all eyes are on Ankara. Having engaged in dialogue with the PKK to make peace with Kurds, the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government is believed to be compelled to help the PYD, an organization affiliated with the PKK. Ankara, however, has maintained a relatively firm stance over the past three years. If the PYD wants to build stronger ties with the Turkish authorities they have to distance themselves from Assad and develop better relations with the FSA. In turn, the PYD leadership believed it could strong-arm Ankara through PKK attacks and international pressures - to no avail.
Turkey's second offer required the PYD to accept assistance from the FSA and KRG. Despite its eagerness to receive weapons and ammunition, the organization resisted the entry of these groups into Rojava. The reasoning was simple - if they failed to defeat ISIS, then Rojava would have been lost anyway. But PYD members would have felt defeated if they only managed to force ISIS out of Rojava with help from the FSA and KRG - they would have to include the victors and build a pluralistic order in the area. Like a baby born prematurely and proved unable to survive, the century-old dream was eventually lost.
The lose-lose situation described above can possibly lead certain groups and organizations to take irrational steps. If anything, the PKK proved just how desperate it was by calling on its supporters to rush to the streets across Turkey and resist the authorities. This most recent wave of protests have not only deprived the Kurdish movement of its moral high ground but effectively rendered the PYD more isolated than before, hence their inability to object to the commissioning of the FSA and KRG forces.