Manbij Attack Gives US Hawks, and ISIS, Exactly What They Want

Opponents of Syria pullout push to keep war going

An ISIS suicide bombing in Syria’s Manbij killed four US troops. This caused a minor redesign in the narrative from hawkish US politicians and media pundits who were opposed to the US withdrawal from Syria. They’re exactly as opposed as before, only now Manbij is the excuse.

So after weeks of centering their talking points on saving the Kurds from Turkey, the focus now is on the idea that ISIS is emboldened by the announced US pullout, and that continuing the pullout will only make the withdrawing soldiers a target.

Their solution is to keep US troops in Syria, which ironically is also ISIS’ solution. Having lost their caliphate and become a desert-centric insurgency with little territory, the US pullout would be a big blow to ISIS’ already crumbling relevance as an international movement.

The easiest way for ISIS to stay relevant is to keep US troops close-by to occasional fight and attack. This would keep anti-US recruits flowing in, and international funding for their leadership.

In a way, this isn’t dissimilar to the hawks’ desire to keep US forces in Syria, as it is another chance for the advocates of the war to remain relevant, and to keep the money flowing on the American side of the war.

It may well be that the increasingly plodding US pullout does make itself into a bigger target for ISIS, and ISIS is likely to try to get what they want with further attacks. While the easiest solution to this would have been a fast withdrawal, as initially announced, instead of an ever-slowing one, ending the pullout entirely is no solution at all, and only ensures that ISIS and the hawks all get what they want.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of