Trump asked Riyadh for $4 billion Syrian war expenses: report

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Trump asked Riyadh for $4 billion Syrian war expenses: report

President Trump and King Salman in Riyadh [Getty]

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President Trump asked Saudi Arabia’s King Salman for $4 billion to hasten the US’ departure from Syria, according to the Washington Post.

The funds are being sought to rebuild and stabilise areas liberated from the Islamic State, as well as to check Assad’s power and Russian and Iranian influence in a post-war Syria, providing the US with a quick exit from the seven-year conflict, according go the report.

The revelations come as Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and de facto leader Mohammed bin Salman arrives in Washington on Monday for extensive dialogue, which officials believe will include a discussion on the $4 billion request.

For years, US policy in Syria has almost entirely focused on pushing back against the Islamic State – a goal that is nearing completion. But with an Assad victory likely, US policymakers are increasingly looking to the next phase of the country’s strategy in Syria.

Officials in the Trump administration have convinced the president that the US cannot withdraw from northern Syria due to Iranian influence, the report suggests.

Last year, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said that Syrian stability cannot be achieved “with Assad in place” and that “Iran is not going to be in charge”.

But one anonymous senior US official said that “convincing arguments have been made that some bad entity is going to be there”.

In a further sign that the US may maintain a long-term presence in Syria, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in January that the US would not make the same mistake as the Obama administration by withdrawing early.

However, Tillerson was recently sacked and replaced by anti-Iran and former CIA director Mike Pompeo.

The US remains the largest humanitarian donor to the Syrian war and has provided over $8 billion to date to assist millions of Syrians affected by the fighting.

However, Trump remains somewhat weary of an indefinite US commitment and ran on an “America First” platform extricating the US commitment to complex foreign entaglements.

Follow us on Twitter: @The_NewArab

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