The province of Idlib is in the northwestern part of Syria, near the Mediterranean Sea and the border with Turkey. Ordinarily, the world ought to have little interest in who controls it. But in geopolitics, sometimes the smallest and most obscure places generate the most concern among major powers – and Idlib is doing just that. The future of the province may itself not be a global issue, but it has become the site of a showdown among Russia, Turkey, Iran, the United States and Syria, with the Kurds thrown in for good measure, forcing them to reconsider who their allies and enemies are. This is a story of great power politics and thus the global balance of power. Idlib is just backdrop.
Right now, Idlib is controlled by forces hostile to the Syrian government. It’s increasingly clear that the government has all but won the civil war that has been raging since the Arab Spring. At the time, President Bashar Assad seemed destined to fall. Of course, he did not fall, his survival ow