UPDATED 1:44 PM PT — Fri. August 17, 2018
President Trump is saving U.S. taxpayers another $230 million dollars a year by pulling funding for ongoing programs in Syria. The president made the announcement Friday, informing Congress he was ending the stabilization efforts currently underway in the war-torn country.
According to White House officials, that money — which had been earmarked for supporting various rebel factions and civilian relief — will now be “shifted elsewhere.”
The State Department said that money does not include humanitarian aid, which the U.S. will continue supporting. However, groups like the White Helmets — who have been observed closely working with terrorist forces — will no longer receive U.S. funding.
Most of the money was pledged by Rex Tillerson in February, but was put under careful examination after he was fired in March.
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.
Officials were quick to add that the loss in funding will be quickly matched by up to $300 million dollars in aid from other coalition partners, including Saudi Arabia. That might not come as welcome news to those in Syria, however.
The Saudi government has been directly responsible for funding numerous terrorist groups inside Syria as well as promoting a destabilization campaign against President Assad’s government.
President Trump said he’s standing by his campaign promise to pull the U.S. out of Syria and wants to dramatically cut back on America’s footprint in the country.
This latest move appears to be a more permanent decision, following the president’s request to review all international assistance.
President Trump made his intentions clear earlier this year when he declared the U.S. forces would be pulling out of Syria “very soon,” saying they would be coming back to the U.S. where they belong. However, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert explained to reporters that the U.S. would remain active in Syria until the Islamic State had been defeated.