DENVER – No Middle East conflict is as complex as the one raging in Syria. The fight involves a government that is antithetical to Western values and a Sunni extremist insurgency that at one point captured the borderlands between Syria and Iraq and fought all the way to the gates of Baghdad. The stakes of the war are so high that a varied cast of foreign actors — including Russia, Turkey, Iran and Hezbollah — have all been drawn in.
But there are actually numerous wars being fought in Syria. One struggle, waged against the Islamic State terrorist group, is well known to the American public. Less understood is the war to succeed the House of Assad, which has ruled the country as a secular dynasty for almost 50 years. A third conflict involves northern Syria’s Kurds, who joined with the United States to fight IS but whose efforts have stoked fear among Turkish leaders that the aspirations of Syria’s Kurdish population could embolden the Kurds in Turkey.