On July 24, the U.S. Department of State announced that it would withhold $18 million in aid earmarked for the Royal Government of Cambodia. This move came in response to profound democratic repression throughout the run-up to the national elections held a day earlier.
Yet, over the weekend, following newly installed Prime Minister Hun Manet’s low-profile visit to New York, the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that the funds had been re-instated. This shift has since been repeatedly touted by Cambodian state-affiliated media outlets as a foreign policy victory for the new prime minister. The State Department remains quiet but sources within the U.S. Embassy confirm the reports as true.
This begs the question: What provoked the sudden reversal and how does this move align with broader U.S. strategic and humanitarian objectives in the Kingdom?