Mar 31, 2018

State Department freezes Syria recovery funds

A Syrian soldier looks at destroyed buildings in Eastern Ghouta. Photo: STR / AFP / Getty Images

The State Department has put $200 million in recovery effort funds to Syria on hold, after the White House directed it to do so, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: Per the Journal, this signals that the administration is re-evaluating U.S. presence in the region. President Trump said on Thursday said that the U.S. would be "coming out of Syria...very soon," and that "other people" should take care of it.

  • But, but, but: Trump's statement conflicted with what the Pentagon said on Thursday, and State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said she knew of no plans to leave Syria.
  • Per the Journal, the State Department spent $200 million "on stabilization work in Syria, including removing unexploded weapons and restoring water, power and electricity" last year, and had designated $225 million for those same services this year.

What to watch for: Two of the biggest powers with a presence in Syria are Iran and Russia, and if the U.S. exits the region it would "raise concerns about ceding" it to those countries. Per the WSJ, the move "would unnerve Israel and Saudi Arabia."

Worth noting: A state department official tells Politico, "The White House ordered the freeze to the State Department funding following a news report the president read noting the U.S. had committed an additional $200 million to support earlier recovery efforts in Syria."

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 a.m. ET: 1,203,923 — Total deaths: 64,795 — Total recoveries: 247,273Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 a.m. ET: 312,237 — Total deaths: 8,502 — Total recoveries: 14,997Map.
  3. Public health latest: CDC launches national trackers and recommends face coverings in public. Federal government will cover costs of COVID-19 treatment for uninsured. The virus is hitting poor, minority communities harder and upending childbirth.
  4. 2020 latest: "We have no contingency plan," Trump said on the 2020 Republican National Convention. "We're having the convention at the end of August."
  5. Business updates: Restaurants step up for health care workers. Employees are pressuring companies to provide protections during coronavirus.
  6. Oil latest: Monday meeting among oil-producing countries to discuss supply curbs is reportedly being delayed amid tensions between Saudi Arabia and Russia.
  7. Education update: Many college-age students won't get coronavirus relief checks.
  8. 1 🏀 thing: The WNBA postpones start of training camps and season.
  9. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

World coronavirus updates: Confirmed cases top 1.2 million

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The number of novel coronavirus cases surpassed 1.2 million worldwide Saturday night, as Spain overtook Italy as the country with the most infections outside the U.S.

The big picture: About half the planet's population is now on lockdown and the global death toll was nearing 64,800, by Sunday morning, per Johns Hopkins data.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 51 mins ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll surpasses 8,500

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Recorded deaths from the novel coronavirus surpassed 8,500 in the U.S. early Sunday, per Johns Hopkins data. The death toll in the U.S. has risen over 1,000 every day for the past four days, since April 1.

The big picture: President Trump said Saturday America's is facing its "toughest" time "between this week and next week." Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said U.S. deaths are expected to continue to rise during this period.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health