President Donald Trump on Monday announced that Saudi Arabia "has now agreed to spend the necessary money" for Syria's reconstruction, briefly raising questions about whether the White House had secured additional funding from Riyadh to rebuild the war-ravaged nation.
It turns out that Trump, under fire for suddenly announcing the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, was highlighting a commitment that the Saudis made several months ago.
@realDonaldTrump: Saudi Arabia has now agreed to spend the necessary money needed to help rebuild Syria, instead of the United States. See? Isn't it nice when immensely wealthy countries help rebuild their neighbors rather than a Great Country, the U.S., that is 5000 miles away. Thanks to Saudi A!
An official at the Saudi embassy in Washington told CNBC that the kingdom has not made any major new financial pledge to Syria since August. That is when the State Department announced that Saudi Arabia had committed $100 million to a fund to stabilize areas of Syria liberated from ISIS militants by a U.S.-led coalition.
"The Kingdom is a major contributor to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, flying the second highest number of sorties against ISIS in Syria, as well as, donating millions of dollars for relief efforts there," a Saudi embassy official told CNBC in an email on Tuesday.
Shortly after Trump decided to pull out of Syria, Secretary of Defense James Mattis resigned and Brett McGurk, the U.S. envoy to the international coalition battling ISIS, said he would step down ahead of schedule. Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike have condemned the move, saying Trump's assessment that ISIS has been defeated in Syria is premature.