March 10, 2017

Manbij and the Unforgiving Complexity of the Syrian War

By Julianne Smith

Source: U.S. News and World Report

Journalist(s) Paul D. Shinkman

Top U.S. defense officials believe all of the warring parties in Manbij got the message after American forces deployed an armored convoy through the Syrian city earlier this week. But while the U.S.-led coalition may have temporarily prevented Russians, Syrians, Turks and Kurds from attacking and killing each other, the situation there exposes far graver dangers for future conflict in Syria.

It was only a matter of time before the Syrian regime's civil war in the western part of the country, backed on the ground and in the air by Moscow, abutted the U.S.-led coalition's fight against the Islamic State group in the east. Those forces' convergence in Manbij, a key transit hub toward the terrorists' capital in Raqqa, was troublesome enough on its own, but it comes at a time when all fighting forces in Syria see an opportunity to establish strongholds today that might grant them greater regional control in the future.

The showdown in Manbij this week exposes that President Donald Trump needs to make a decision soon about which forces the U.S. will support in the final campaign to defeat the terrorist network and how the White House plans to follow through without infuriating other key allies. It's a nearly impossible choice, and the administration needs to decide fast.

Read the full article at U.S. News and World Report.

  • Julianne Smith

    Senior Fellow and Director, Transatlantic Security Program

    Julianne (“Julie”) Smith is Senior Fellow and Director of the Transatlantic Security Program at the Center for a New American Security. She is a contributing editor to Fo...