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US aid funding in the Middle East and North Africa for 2011

The US intends to spend US$14 billion dollars on foreign assistance in the broader Middle East and North Africa. This FY2011 budget request is a 27% over the previous year’s aid budget.

The Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) has a report that provides analysis on the proposed FY2011 budget.

There is a planned rise in aid to Afghanistan and Pakistan, countries where the US is fighting a war. From the POMED report: “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.”

Financial support to projects in Yemen is to increase. The US is an active ally of Yemen’s government in the political and armed conflict within that country. From the POMED report: “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.”

POMED highlights some changes in the structure of aid to Egypt, an important US ally in the region. Egypt’s government has been facing long-term pressure from national political and civic groups who wish for deep transformation of the political process as well as to improve very serious economic troubles. From the POMED report: “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.”

You can read a summary or the full report at the POMED site.

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