WASHINGTON DC – In standard ‘art of the deal’ framing, US President Donald Trump on Saturday has again recognized the problematic US involvement in Syria. He openly criticized US financial aid to Syria, saying “other rich countries” should allocate funds for the stabilization of the Arab country.
In reality, this ‘aid’ to Syria was support for jihadist groups, posing as humanitarian relief, such as the White Helmets, along with an alphabet soup of other ‘NGOs’ designed to enrich and involve big players from Turkish and gulf monarchies, who initially were part of the US supported alliance to invade Syria and overthrow its popular, secular, and democratic government of the Ba’ath Party, led by Bashar al-Assad.
In practice, as verified by Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Bob Menendez , Trump’s proposal here will be to strengthen the role of Russia, Iran, and China in post-war Syria.
The school of ‘realism’ in the field of international relations, would indicate that Trump’s statements aren’t prescriptive or normative, as much as they are descriptive and reflective of the facts on the ground.
“The United States has ended the ridiculous $230 Million Dollar yearly development payment to Syria. Saudi Arabia and other rich countries in the Middle East will start making payments instead of the US. I want to develop the U.S., our military and countries that help us!” Trump wrote on his Twitter.
The United States has ended the ridiculous 230 Million Dollar yearly development payment to Syria. Saudi Arabia and other rich countries in the Middle East will start making payments instead of the U.S. I want to develop the U.S., our military and countries that help us!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 18, 2018
According to State Department spokesman Heather Nauert, the State Department will redirect $230 million for other purposes, which should be earmarked for the stabilization of Syria.
She explained this by saying that the State Department managed to raise $300 million from coalition partners for that purpose since April, in particular, Saudi Arabia donated $100 million and the United Arab Emirates $50 million.
At the same time, Nauert added that the decision will not affect humanitarian assistance to Syria, for which the US has allocated $8.1 billion since the beginning of the conflict.
The US decision to redirect $230 million of stabilization efforts in Syria will allow Russia and Iran to strengthen support for President Bashar Assad, Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Bob Menendez said in a press release Friday.
“[Trump] is extending the red carpet to Russia and Iran, who will seize the vacuum of US presence and assistance to double their support for the Assad regime,” Menendez said.
Without funding for stability, Menéndez added, Syria will remain a threat to Israel’s security.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a press statement on Friday that the US government will continue to fund White Helmets operations in Syria .
“This decision does not represent a change in Washington’s commitment to its goals in the Middle East country,” the spokeswoman said.
In a separate teleconference with reporters, Nauert said former US ambassador to Iraq Jim Jeffrey was appointed to serve as a representative for Syrian engagement. During the same call, a State Department official said the United States made clear to Russia that no reconstruction funding for Syria will be provided until the UN validates an irreversible political process in the country.
Because there are numerous UN resolutions which make this impossible, along with ‘facts on the ground’ – the US backed ‘opposition’ has no material foundation in Syria, and no military victory to base one on – Trump’s policy here is again the ‘art of the deal’ style of framing. Making a recognition of a failed US policy and the success of the Russian-Iranian alliance supporting Syria, appear as a ‘strong ultimatum’.