Stories by Shannon Vavra
Trump cuts funding for projects to stabilize Syria
The Trump administration is ending up to $230 million in funding intended to help stabilize Syria, David Satterfield, the State Department's Acting Assistant Secretary for Near East Affairs, told reporters on a call Friday.
Why it matters: This is the latest in a string of cuts to Syrian stabilization funds the administration has been making following repeated complaints from President Trump about the cost of U.S. involvement. Axios reported in May that the State Department was ending funding to projects in northwest Syria after Trump requested they be reviewed.
The reasoning: Coalition partners, including Saudi Arabia, are pledging about $300 million to fill the void, which is part of why the U.S. is ending the funding, per the AP.
- What they're saying: "We're there for the defeat — the enduring defeat of ISIS. We have mobilized the critical international support that the President very much wanted to see," Satterfield said.
- There are about 14,000 ISIS fighters in Syria, according to reports from the Pentagon and the UN.
The administration has informed Congress it will not be spending the $230 million that has been allocated, Satterfield said.
- The funds from Saudi Arabia will focus on projects related to "health, agriculture, electricity, water, education, transportation (key roads and bridges), and rubble removal," per the WSJ.
What's next: The State Department will work with lawmakers to repurpose the funds, Satterfield said, without offering details.
House Commerce Committee wants Twitter CEO to testify
The Chair of the House Commerce on Energy and Committee, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Oregon), formally invited (via a tweet) Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to appear before the committee over speech issues on the platform. Dorsey has already confirmed he will participate in a Sept. 5 Senate Intelligence hearing to discuss efforts to prevent Russian interference in the November midterms elections.
The upshot, per Axios’ David McCabe: “Jack is in a bind where he has satisfied neither the left, which isn't happy with their Infowars response, or the right, which wants him to testify on censorship, right as he needs lawmakers on his side when he goes up to Capitol Hill.”
- This comes after Twitter’s back-and-forth on whether to remove Infowars’ Alex Jones as other platforms, like Apple, Facebook, and YouTube, removed him. In the end, Twitter settled on suspending Jones for a week.
- A congressional source said Energy and Commerce staff members have indicated to Twitter Dorsey could be subpoenaed if he declines to appear voluntarily.
What they’re saying:
- “We can’t build a service that is subjective just to the whims of what we personally believe,” Dorsey told NBC News.
- Rep. Walden said he thinks Twitter’s “complex algorithms must be better communicated to consumers.”