More than 600 Islamic State fighters from a variety of countries are being held by SDF in Syria, but no one thinks this situation can last. Frantic diplomatic negotiations have borne little fruit so far, and it appears a two-pronged stopgap solution may be in the works. Buckle up.
The Islamic State burst onto the world stage in 2014, capturing vast stretches of Iraq and Syria, brutally and publicly killing Western prisoners, and declaring itself a new pan-Islamic caliphate. President Obama announced an American effort to roll back and eventual defeat the Islamic State, and enlisted an international coalition of Arab and Western powers to accomplish that goal. This effort has, in turn, raised a host of new questions: about effectiveness and commitment, about international law, about presidential authority, about the interpretive limits of an out-of-date domestic authorization for the use of force, and about the general viability of American policy in the region.