On the morning of October 12th, Hevrin Khalaf, a rising young Kurdish political leader, rode along the M4 highway in northern Syria. Seated in the back of a bulletproof Toyota SUV, she rushed past the battle-scarred villages of her homeland, now three days into a brutal military assault from Turkey, made possible by Donald Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops from the region. She was on her way to Raqqa, the short-lived capital of the Islamic State and the largest and most heavily damaged city in Kurdish-held territory. Raqqa was beginning to recover, and Khalaf was headed to one of her frequent political meetings there. In 2018, she had helped found the Future Syria Party (FSP), with the lofty goal of advancing pluralism and democracy across Syria’s sectarian fault lines.
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