Home / World News / Trump asked for $four billion from Saudis for Syria – The Denver Post

Trump asked for $four billion from Saudis for Syria – The Denver Post

By Paul Sonne and Karen Deyoung, The Washington Post

In a December phone call with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, President Donald Trump had an idea he thought could hasten a U.S. exit from Syria: Ask the king for $4 billion. By the end of the call, according to U.S. officials, the president believed he had a deal.

The White House wants money from the kingdom and other nations to help rebuild and stabilize the parts of Syria that the U.S. military and its local allies have liberated from the Islamic State. The postwar goal is to prevent Syrian President Bashar Assad and his Russian and Iranian partners from claiming the areas, or the Islamic State from regrouping, while U.S. forces finish mopping up the militants.

The Saudis, whose crown prince arrives in Washington on Monday for extensive meetings with the administration, are part of the anti-Islamic State coalition but have largely withdrawn from the fight in Syria in recent years. They are questioning the eye-popping sum even as U.S. officials at one point were drawing up line items totaling $4 billion.

For Trump – who has long railed against insufficient burden-sharing by allies under the U.S. security umbrella – getting others to foot the bill for expensive postwar efforts is important.

A $4 billion Saudi contribution would go a long way toward U.S. goals in Syria that the Saudis say they share, particularly that of limiting Assad’s power and rolling back Iran’s influence. By comparison, the United States last month announced a $200 million donation to the stabilization effort.

At the same time, Trump is eager to get the United States out of a war in which he has already claimed that victory over the Islamic State is near. Boasting of the Islamic State’s defeat in a speech Tuesday to U.S. troops in California, he said, “We knocked the hell out of them.”

“We won’t let up until ISIS is completely destroyed,” Trump said, using an acronym for the militants. “ISIS never thought this would happen. They never got hit like this.”

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Pentagon policy dating back to the Obama administration has limited U.S. involvement in the civil war in Syria almost exclusively to fighting the Islamic State through proxy forces backed by American troops.

The fight has been successful. But despite the rollback of Islamic State territory, the increasing likelihood of an Assad victory in the civil war has left many U.S. policymakers and lawmakers aghast and the U.S. mission in Syria jumbled and confused.

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