The Russian-language Svobodnaya Pressa daily reports that Riyadh and Washington have not yet worked out the timeline for the budgeting, but in principle Saudi Arabia has, though perhaps unwillinglly, decided to pony-up and to provide for the multibillion dollar financing.
The report also said that Saudi Arabia was initially unwilling to spend as much, despite Washington’s warnings about its pullout. However, apparently KSA conceded after Trump used his methods to pressure Saudi Arabia that include Riyadh’s fears of the collapse of anti-Assad coalition after a US withdrawal.
Such a collapse may indeed be inevitable, and Trump has leveraged the fact that in numerous speeches, and indeed for much of his electoral campaign, has indicated that he has no interest in working to overthrow Assad. This, however does not preclude the US for acting as an ‘army for hire’, perhaps some tactic to recoup some of the ‘losses’ the US has taken in propping up both Israel and the Saudi monarchy.
According to the report, the Saudi spending might entail deployment of thousands of US troops in Syria. This would be to ensure Saudi interests in supporting ISIS and Al Qaeda. The KSA is bogged down in its own quagmire in its attempt to conquer Yemen.
Prior Saudi plans to conquer Qatar were foiled, when officials from the Trump administration intervened. Nevertheless, the KSA is involved in too many conflicts, as well as suffering internal divisions within the royal family, which have been well and thoroughly documented here at FRN.
Last week, US President Donald Trump praised Washington’s cancellation of $230mln in funding for stabilization in war-torn Syria, stating that let “other rich countries” pay it, while the US spends its money on its military and allies.
The US officially ended support for stabilization projects in Syria on Friday. The $230mln worth of funding had been frozen for months before that however, after House forbid any funding for government-controlled territories in Syria. Trump wrote on 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 US. I want to develop the US, our military and countries that help us!”
Trump has long been promising the US would leave Syria “like very soon”, but so far the stabilization money is the only thing that’s been withdrawn. American military presence and support for anti-government fighters remains, and, according to diplomat Brett McGurk, is gearing up to a “final phase” of the offensive against Daesh (ISIS).
Still, what we are seeing conforms to the ‘Trump method’, his ‘art of the deal’. Understanding what the other party has to lose, and by posturing that the US not interested in things which in fact are of interest to it, allows Trump to leverage their fears and get ‘allies’ like the KSA to pay for things which in fact are in both country’s perceived interests.
At the same time, Trump likely realizes that the situation in Syria is unwinnable from the US’s perspective, and must limit its activities to protecting Israel and the KSA. Getting the KSA to pay the US for accomplishing the US’s own goals, or those of Israel, explains much about Trump’s method of business, and will inform us moving forward.