The so-called Islamic State (DAESH by its Arab acronym) will be finished in a matter of weeks: Mosul is being liberated without almost any resistance, Kurdo-Arab forces have cut off Raqqa from Deir-el-Zor, Turkey marches on Al Bab along with their Al-Qaeda "moderate opposition" militias, while Syria is also force-marching to cut the Turkish advance on their sovereign territory, as well as against Palmyra. On top of that the USA has been mass-bombing Raqqa itself (and nope, nobody has cried about the "humanitarian situation" this time). There is no coalition but a general recognition that DAESH is the legitimate target, which each one is using for their own purposes.
|Military situation in Syria around February 12 per Wikimedia Commons (author: Ermanarich)|
The expected end-game situation will be a partition of Syria in three areas: the main one under the legitimate Baath government, a very sizable chunk in the Northeast (plus a Kurdish enclave in the Northwest) under independent Kurdo-Arab control (Syrian Democratic Forces) and a strip of the rural Northwest under Turkish control and that of their allied militias who until recently flew the banner of Al Qaeda.
DAESH will be then limited to dormant cells and a few guerrilla enclaves in Africa and Yemen, which may well turn their allegiance towards Al Qaeda/Turkey/Saudia/USA again or suffer the consequences.
My big question is what next for Syria. I'm uncertain that Damascus and the YPG can get along once the common enemy has been smashed, although it will remain in the form of the FSA (Al Qaeda) and Turkey, they may both feel powerless to fight against the Turkish regional power and their NATO fallback line. Surely that won't dissuade the Kurds, who are in open war against Turkey (not by whim but because Erdogan imposed it) but I'm quite uncertain that Syria, which has not fought for the Golan Heights in many decades, was pushed out of Lebanon and has been struggling to win the "civil war" without support (Russian intervention proved decisive, no doubt) is ready to fight against the much stronger Islamo-Fascist Turkey of Erdogan.
So my guess is that it will settle in some sort of unstable status quo, with Damascus demanding the pull back of Turkey with words rather than action, Turkey demanding "dialogue" (i.e. concesions to Islamo-Fascism and Turkmen tiny minorities) just to delay any retreat, Kurds growingly confronted with Turkey as leftover weapons and hardened warriors flow into the North of the country under Ankara's occupation, Turkey pressuring Syria to do something about it, Syria rebuilding while it looks at both sides between amused and concerned, etc. It's possible even that the Syrian Army and the SDF join forces to finally expel both "moderate" Islamo-Fascists and Turkish troops from Syrian territory but there will be no doubt a lot of distrust.
Unless NATO collapses in the meantime (that would be very nice indeed but most unlikely), the Baghdad Railroad line (Turco-Syrian border) is a red line that Syrian forces will never cross, nor will Russian air forces if involved, only Kurds will because for them that border does not exist, just as they do not seem to exist as nation for the rest of the world.
In any case the murderer, torturer, rapists and slavers DAESH will be gone for good. And that is indeed good. I can just hope that they arrest them as they flow back into Europe and other places, instead of letting them in as their Western protectors usually do, with the obvious intention of using them as pretext to implement every day more extremist dictatorial measures such as the permanent state of emergency in effect in France and to prop up the extremist Christo-Fascists and outright Nazis that seem to be groomed to replace the current constitutional regimes, once these are exhausted, as has happened in the USA with Trump, in Poland with Duda, etc.
Sadly enough hope alone won't do much.