The Syrian-Turkish border area in the early morning hours is calm and almost serene. Driving from the town of Kobane to the border crossing at Semalka one may get the impression that there is not much of a war remaining at all in the country.

Every few kilometres, to be sure, one runs into a checkpoint of the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces or the Asayish security police.

But their close presence on the ground, for anyone who knows Syria, is reassuring rather than disturbing. It is evidence of solid central authority. Such authority is the best guarantee against the arbitrary activity of armed bands that for a while constituted the chief danger to foreigners travelling through northern Syria.

The forces staffing these checkpoints were partners of the US and the West in its almost completed bid to destroy Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The successful prosecution of that war led to the present reality in which the US and its partners are the joint de facto sovereign of a large, resource-rich swath of Syria.

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