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April 23, 2010

POMED Releases Annual Budget Report on US Democracy Assistance
Posted by Shadi Hamid

The Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) has just released its annual report analyzing US democracy assistance in the Middle East. This report has quickly become must-reading in DC policy circles. It's that good (disclaimer: as a member of POMED"s board of directors, I may be a bit biased). Not only that, it's written by my friend Stephen McInerney, who knows more about US democracy assistance than pretty much anyone else I know in Washington.

Budgets, sometimes, speak louder than words, so Steve's analysis helps makes some sense of where the Obama administration's priorities lay. In short, go read it. Some of the key findings from the report:

  • MEPI has Obama’s support.  The Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) has become a centerpiece of the administration’s efforts to engage civil society and support democracy in the region.  Following a 30% increase in funding in FY10, the new budget requests an additional 32% increase up to $86 million.  More than 60% ($52.9 million) of the requested funding is for MEPI’s democracy and governance programs, with $27.2 million designated for civil society – a 39% increase from FY10.
  • Controversial changes in U.S. assistance to Egypt have been reinforced.  Funding for democracy in Egypt remains at levels sharply reduced in March 2009, which included disproportionate cuts in funding for civil society.  The decision to provide USAID funding only to organizations registered and approved as NGOs by the Egyptian government remains in place.  Finally, the administration is now exploring the establishment of an “endowment” proposed by the Egyptian government, which ultimately could remove a significant portion of U.S. economic assistance to Egypt from  normal channels of congressional oversight.
  • The administration is increasingly leaving Iraq’s governance to Iraqis.  As the U.S. military draws down its presence in Iraq, the budget is also beginning to decrease large-scale bilateral funding for democracy and governance in Iraq, which is reduced 46% from existing levels.
  • The administration has “doubled down” on aid to Afghanistan and Pakistan.  After increasing aid to Afghanistan and Pakistan a year ago from $1.87 billion to $4.36 billion, President Obama has now requested an even larger increase, up to a total of $6.95 billion.  This increase extends to funding for democracy and governance programs in the two countries, for which $1.58 billion is requested, up from a FY10 request of $991 million.
  • Aid to Yemen is up.  In last year’s FY10 budget, President Obama requested a 38% increase in foreign aid to Yemen, including a more than threefold increase in funding for democracy and governance programming.  Now for FY11, he has requested an additional 58% increase in assistance to Yemen, while also restructuring USAID’s approach to the country.
  • Internet freedom is a major point of emphasis.  The Obama administration and Congress alike have embraced support for freedom of Internet access and online expression as a key component of the efforts to support human rights abroad. The Middle East is a particular focus of this approach.
  • Total foreign assistance is increased.  The Obama administration has requested a considerable increase in total foreign assistance for the BMENA region.  At $14 billion, the request represents a 27% increase over the FY10 budget for total aid to the region.
  • Total funding for democracy and governance is up. Leaving aside the outsized security and military-driven cases of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, the FY11 budget increases funding for democracy and governance by 10% across the region.


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Thanks for sharing the whole information of this annual budget report.I was wondering this information only.Very interesting and great Key findings of this. From all these key finds I get surprised to know that administration has “doubled down” on aid to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Please share more detail information on this mater.

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