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nited States Senate October 3, 2018 President Donald J. Trump The White House 1600 Peansylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20500 Deat President Trump: ‘We write with great concem about the administration's recent decision to redirect $230 million in funding for stabilization efforts n Syria. This decision will undermine the gains the United States has ‘made and continues to make agcinst ISIS, empower our adversaries, and threaten stability in both Syria and lrag. It will also cede U.S. leadership in northeast Syria, which is an area ertieal to any future political agreement and/or transition process in Syria, OF not, this region, with the encouragement and assistance ofthe United States and its partners, has bucked the general trend in Syria, It has flourished since its liberation from ISIS and demonstrated remarkable progress in co-education, women's ‘empowerment, and reconciliaticn between ethnie communities. We risk not only the stability ofthese communities, but our own security by rescinding stabilization assistance to this region In announcing this decision the State Department reported that other countries had committed $300 nillion that would replace U.S. funding. While we weleome burden sharing, cutting all of ur stabilization funding sends an unmistakable message: the US. is taking a backseat to Iran, Russia, and the Syrian regime inthe Middle East. Our local partners are already hedging and saying that they may no longer be able to protect the West from dangerous ISIS militants and foreign fighters that they've ‘cptured or fight both the rogime and ISIS on multiple fronts without our help. This decision contradicts your administration's stabilization guidance published eatlir this yea." That guidance stated that stabilizatio efforts must engage atthe political level and address governance issues. Although the U.S. has previously supported nascent efforts to develop more inclusive governing siructres, we question if this wll continue without U.S. leadership. The stabilization guidance also advised that while burden sharing is important, itis critical that partners’ commitments take into account ‘their comparative advantages. With this decision we are ceding one ofthe most eitcal stabilization priorities ~ governance —to athes such as Saudi Arabia which may not he best equipped to lead such activities, In addition, this decision could further exacerbate the Syrian refugee crisis, A numberof stabilization activities—including demining, rubble removal, and restoration of water and eletrcal services —are inherently connected to the humanitarian conditions in Syria. If those conditions do not improve, refugees will not want fo return, and those who have returned are less likely to stay. "Stabilization Assistance Review:A Framework for Maximizing the Effectiveness of US. Goverment Elfrts to Saiize Conet-ATTected Areas" US. Agency for International Development US. Deparment of Defense and US. Drpariment af ‘Sat, 2018. psn stat gav doamentsorganzation 283580 pt We are encouraged by the appcintment of Ambassador James Jeffrey as the Secretary of State's Special Representative for Syria Engagement. We urge you to follow his advice ina recent paper he eo authored, where he emphasize¢ the importance of countering the expansion of Irenign influence in Syria through military presence and infrastructure? Stabilization activities led by the U.S. that support the consolidation of local governarce structures and some basic public services would be a relatively low= cost way to counter Iranian, Russian, and Syrian regime ambitions. Indeed, by comparison the Pentagon is set to receive $15.9 billion in Fiscal Year 2019 to fight the Islamic State. Yet spending $230 million ‘o-maintan the gains we've male, prevent the return of ISIS, and maintain our leadership in territory coveted by our adversaries seems o be too high a price for the administration. The decision to redirect ‘his funding is simply penny-wse and pound loolish Given the urgency ofthis matter, we respeotflly request your answers tothe following questions |. Without making financial contributions to the stabilization effort, how will the United States be able to play leadership role in current and future stabilization activities in Syria? How will the USS. ensure that stabilization activities support progress toward a defined politcal end state? 2, What isthe mechanism that other countries will use to make contributions to stabilization activities? Will that furding pass through the U.S. Treasury? How will those activities be coordinated and overseen? 3. Hove will the United States counter Iran’s ambitions in Syria asthe U.S. cedes its leadership role ‘on stabilization activities? ‘Again, we feel that this decision is shortsighted and risks empowering the most nefarious actors in Syria. Further, it imits our abilty to constructively engage inthe future of Syria and the Middle East. ‘We strongly encourage you to ensure thatthe U.S. continues to play a leadership role in stabilization sctvities in Syria Sincerely, ‘Cory A, Booker zi 2 Shaheen United States Senator United States Senator 2 Katherine Bauer, SonerCagaply, Pack Clawson, Miche! Esensad, ames Fetes, Barbara A. Lea, Matthew Levi, Dennis Ross, and Robert Salo, "Toward a New US. Policy in Sia: Ground 2 fee costering Irena deterring "Near Eat Paty, ay