United States commends Saudi pledge of $100 million to rebuild Syria's northeast

Leroy Wright
August 19, 2018

The kingdom said the 88-million-euro contribution would go towards a US-backed campaign to "stabilise" the one-time IS bastion and to help ensure the jihadists can not re-emerge as a threat.

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

USA officials said the $230 million will be spent on other foreign policy priorities.

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

Despite the defeat of IS in Syria and Iraq, between 20,000 and 30,000 of its fighters remain in the two countries, according to a United Nations report released Monday.

The officials said the cuts will be more than made up for by a $300 million investment from coalition partners, the AP reports, including Saudi Arabia.

"By ending USA contributions to stabilization efforts in the most vulnerable Syrian communities recently liberated from the terrors of ISIS, this message of US retreat and abandonment is an embarrassment", he said.

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The decision was made based on the additional pledges and "the already significant military and financial contributions made by the United States to date", Nauert said. "Our stabilization programs are targeted, they are prioritized, and they are focused on saving lives, demining, water, electricity and the basic necessities".

As part of the move and to help oversee the transition, the administration is appointing veteran diplomat James Jeffrey as a special envoy to Syria.

The U.S. has been clear with Russian Federation that no reconstruction efforts will begin until the United Nations certifies that a credible irreversible political process is underway.

President Trump is saving USA taxpayers another $230 million dollars a year by pulling funding for ongoing programs in Syria.

Nauert, along with David Satterfield, the acting assistant secretary of state for the Middle East, and Brett McGurk, the special envoy for the anti-IS coalition, told reporters on a conference call that the US would remain active in Syria until the Islamic State has been defeated.

Both the Russian and Syrian governments want global funding to rebuild Syria, he said.

The State Department said it had notified Congress on Friday that it would not spend some $230 million that had been planned for Syria programs and would instead shift that money to other areas. The U.S. says reconstruction assistance for Syria requires an worldwide agreement involving the United Nations.

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