Ahead of his administration’s policy announcement on Afghanistan, President Donald Trump has nominated John R Bass, currently serving as the US ambassador to Turkey, to be his envoy to Afghanistan. Bass, a career foreign service official since 1988, needs to be confirmed by the United States Senate before he can take up the new assignment. Born and raised in upstate New York, Bass previously served as the US envoy to Georgia.
This is Trump’s first nomination for a South Asian country. He has yet to nominate his envoys for India and Pakistan, the two crucial South Asian countries. The announcement came hours after Trump, along with Vice President Mike Pence, drove down to Pentagon to hold policy discussion with his national security and military advisers on a host of global issues including Afghanistan, North Korea and ISIS.
At the Pentagon, Trump did not respond to shouted questions on Afghanistan about the troop level. “We’ll see. And we’re doing very well against ISIS. ISIS is falling fast, very fast,” Trump said. At her daily news conference, White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders reiterated that a decision on troop level would be taken by the Defence Secretary James Mattis.
You may also like to watch:
“He (Trump) has empowered Secretary Mattis in terms — I’ve been asked specifically about troop levels and decisions on specific instances, and in that regard, I would refer you to the Department of Defence,” Sanders told reporters after Trump returned from Pentagon. Senator John McCain, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, yesterday expressed concern over the administration not having an Afghan policy even six months after coming into office.
“Six months into this administration, there is still no new strategy for victory in Afghanistan either. It is now mid-July, when the administration promised to deliver that strategy to Congress, and we are still waiting,” McCain said in a statement issued from the hospital in Arizona where he is being treated after being diagnosed with brain cancer.
A day earlier, the House Appropriations Committee passed by voice vote the annual Appropriations budget for the State Department. Among recommendation includes conditions on assistance for transparency, accountability, and other requirements, including prohibiting funds for new major infrastructure projects.
In total, the bill provides USD 47.4 billion in both regular discretionary and Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding. This total is USD 10 billion below the fiscal year 2017 enacted level, when counting additional funds provided in the Security Assistance Appropriations Act of 2017. Within this amount, OCO funding totals USD 12 billion, which supports operations and assistance in areas of conflict, such as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.