On the same day Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was dispatched to Saudi Arabia to discuss missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the kingdom made good on an August promise to put $100 million toward U.S. efforts in Syria, according to The New York Times.
The money arrived in American accounts on Tuesday, as Pompeo arrived in Riyadh to meet with Saudi leaders.
> Securing the funding is a win for President Trump, who has complained about how much the United States spends abroad and has tried to get allies to foot more of the bill. But the timing of the money’s arrival raised eyebrows even among some of the bureaucrats whose programs will benefit from the influx of cash.
> “The timing of this is no coincidence,” said an American official involved in Syria policy who spoke on condition of anonymity because this person was not authorized to speak to journalists. The official confirmed that the money arrived on Tuesday.
Saudi officials have been less than cooperative with the investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance, according to Turkish authorities, who believe the journalist was killed on October 2 inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Saudi Arabia has denied involvement in the disappearance, insisting Khashoggi left the consulate the same day he entered but offering no proof.
President Donald Trump has spoken warmly of Saudi Arabia in the past and on Tuesday said, “Here we go again with you’re guilty until proven innocent,” lamenting what he views as a rush to judgment by other countries and business leaders.
> Brett McGurk, the United States envoy to the coalition fighting the Islamic State, dismissed the idea that Mr. Pompeo’s visit and the disbursement of funds were connected. The Saudis had committed the money in August, he said, and the United States had expected to receive it in the fall.
> “The specific transfer of funds has been long in process and has nothing to do with other events or the secretary’s visit,” Mr. McGurk said.
However, the official involved in Syria policy told The Times that nothing about the payment was set in stone after the money was pledged in August, and its arrival in U.S. accounts Tuesday was sudden.