Dr Rodger Shanahan unpacks the implications of the US withdrawal from Syria and the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in October 2019 in Syria. Are the two events linked? US President Trump’s decision to withdraw US forces from northeast Syria, abandoning the Kurds who fought with the US against Islamic State, allowed Turkey to invade and gave what Dr Shanahan says was “a gift” to Moscow and Damascus. He also discusses what the death of al-Baghdadi means for the future of the Islamic State terrorist group and other militant Islamist groups in the region; and whether the timing and proximity of the two events might be more more than coincidence. Dr Rodger Shanahan is a Research Fellow at the Lowy Institute specialising in Middle East security and terrorism studies. A former army officer, he had extensive service within the Parachute Battalion Group (PBG) and has had operational service with the UN in South Lebanon and Syria, with the PBG in East Timor, in Beirut during the 2006 war, and in Afghanistan. He was the former director of the Army's Land Warfare Studies Centre, and has also been posted to the Australian Embassies in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi. Dr Shanahan has a PhD in Arab and Islamic Studies from the University of Sydney.