Syria has been at war now for five years. And in that time, the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, or PYD, and its armed wing, the YPG, have skilfully gained control of almost the entire northern stretch of the country. An area the Kurds call Rojava.
Aided by US material support and air strikes, they are seen as a key ally in the fight against ISIL, but the Kurds of Syria have been frustrated as their victories on the battlefield have not translated into political gains.
Shut out of UN-brokered peace talks in Geneva, they have chosen to go it alone.
Declaring their intention to establish a federal Kurdish region in northern Syria, the Kurds say they are not pushing for independence. Rather, for a decentralised, federal model to be applied throughout Syria.
But their plan is running into major resistance. Not just from Turkey, which has threatened to go to war if necessary, to block the creation of any autonomous Kurdish region in Syria, but also from the bulk of the Syrian opposition and the government in Damascus.
On this Inside Story, we ask if federalism could work in Syria? And how will Kurdish demands affect negotiations to end the war?
Presenter: Nick Clark
Peter Galbraith - Former US Diplomat and informal Adviser to Syrian Kurds
Muhittin Ataman - Deputy General Coordinator, SETA
Lydia Wilson - Research Fellow, Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict, Oxford University
Source: Al Jazeera