The US House of Representatives passed an annual defense bill on Dec. 4 that makes it clear that US allies will pick up a sizable part of the tab for President Barack Obama’s plan to train and equip vetted rebels in Syria.
The National Defense Authorization Act permits the mission for the next two years but does not specify a maximum spending amount, even though Obama had asked for $500 million when he unveiled the plan in June. Committee sources say that’s because there’s enough money for now, after moving around existing funds and factoring in foreign contributions.
“There is reprogramming authority,” a House Armed Services Committee aide told Al-Monitor, “but the administration said they did not need funding because other countries will pay for the program.”
The House passed the $585 billion bill on a bipartisan 300-119 vote on Dec. 4. The Senate is expected to approve it next week.
The bill includes an “authority to accept contribution” that spells out other countries’ role. Congress first approved the mission back in September but that authorization expires Dec. 11.
“The Secretary of Defense may accept and retain contributions,” the bill states, “including assistance in-kind, from foreign governments to provide assistance as authorized by this section. Any funds so accepted by the Secretary shall be credited to appropriations for the appropriate operation and maintenance accounts, except that any funds so accepted by the Secretary shall not be available for obligation until a reprogramming request is submitted to the congressional defense committees.”
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., confirmed that “several” countries are participating financially but said details are classified.
“Other countries are paying for some of the training and equipping,” he told Al-Monitor.
Some partners in the effort have already made themselves public.
Saudi Arabia announced in September that it was willing to host the mission on its soil. Since then Turkey has also agreed to participate, according to the State Department, raising questions about just who their main target would be, Islamic State or Bashar al-Assad.
Buried in the House intelligence committee report on Benghazi released on Friday afternoon – the horse’s rear end of the weekly news cycle – was some astonishing information on who knew what about the CIA’s involvement in arms smuggling from Benghazi to the Syrian rebels.
As with so many whitewash reports from Congress and the executive branch, you have to read between the lines to get the facts. After all, these reports are written to obscure the facts, not illuminate them, as Jonathan Gruber has reminded us.
AMRAVATI, India — A deadly epidemic that could have global implications is quietly sweeping India, and among its many victims are tens of thousands of newborns dying because once-miraculous cures no longer work.
These infants are born with bacterial infections that are resistant to most known antibiotics, and more than 58,000 died last year as a result, a recent study found.
Thursday, December 4th: Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, was shaken by an early morning terrorist attack when several gunmen seized the Grozny Press House and a school. (Surely McCain is disappointed that the assault on the school didn’t work out)