US ends Syria stabilization funding, cites more allied cash

Frederick Owens
August 20, 2018

President Donald Trump said in March that his country will withdraw its troops in Syria "very soon", at odds with the statement of Pentagon spokesperson Dana White on the same day that "important work remains to guarantee the lasting defeat of these violent extremists" in the Middle East country.

Working with Congress, the State Department will redirect these funds to support other key foreign policy priorities.

The Saudi Embassy described the $100 million as part of a pledge made by Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir during a US -sponsored conference in Brussels about the Islamic State group in July at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation headquarters.

"The United States has ended the ridiculous 230 Million Dollar yearly development payment to Syria". Almost all of that money, initially pledged by former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in February, had been on hold and under review since he was sacked in March.

Yet Friday's funding cut is the latest Trump administration retreat from Syria.

Acting U.S. Assistant Secretary David Satterfield said the United States and other countries would not contribute to Syria's full reconstruction until there was a "credible and irreversible" political process underway to end the conflict.

President Trump made his intentions clear earlier this year when he declared the US forces would be pulling out of Syria "very soon", saying they would be coming back to the USA where they belong.

Still, the move was seen as a sign the administration is heeding Trump's demand to end US involvement in Syria and reduce its commitment there.

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The State Department "continues to work with the worldwide community, members of the Coalition, and our partners on the ground to provide much needed stabilization support to vulnerable areas in Syria", the spokesperson said in March.

Nauert said that the decision "does not represent any lessening of United States commitment to our strategic goals in Syria".

It named former ambassador to Iraq, Jim Jeffrey, to a new position as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's adviser on Syria.

US officials insisted that Washington's efforts would be focused on defeating ISIS in Syria.

Riyadh's contribution aims to support "stabilisation projects" and "will play a critical role in the coalition's efforts to revitalise communities, such as Raqqa, that have been devastated by ISIS terrorists", the Saudi embassy in Washington said.

We will continue to provide life-saving, needs-based humanitarian assistance to vulnerable Syrians, support for the White Helmets and the UN's International Impartial and Independent Mechanism to hold the Assad regime accountable for serious crimes, as well as equipment and other measures to counter the effects of chemical weapons in northwest Syria.

Last month, the US helped to organize the evacuation through Israel of White Helmet workers from Syria's south, where Assad's Russian-backed forces launched a new offensive despite a de-escalation agreement between Washington and Moscow.

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