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State Dept. Seeks “Special Fund” for Arab Spring

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New American
February 15, 2012

While the purported reforms brought on by last year’s “Arab Spring” appeared to be floundering in Egypt, the Obama administration is preparing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to advance those same reforms throughout the Islamic world.

According to a news story from Bloomberg, a “special $700 million fund” to support the “Arab Spring” is part of the State Department’s proposed $51.6 billion budget for fiscal year 2013:

The administration is proposing to trim assistance to Europe, Eurasia and Central Asia in order to bolster spending in areas given higher priority by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The Middle East would gain, with the creation of a special $770 million fund to support political and economic reform in the aftermath of the Arab Spring.

“This budget follows a year of transformational change in the world,” Thomas Nides, the department’s deputy secretary for management and resources, said today.

In the assessment of critics, Nides’ words simply highlight the fact that whatever good may have been accomplished in the various uprisings last year took place without special State Department funding. But the new budget also comes at a time when the political situation in Egypt is increasingly unstable. News of the “special $700 million fund” comes in the aftermath of news that the Egyptian government ispreparing to prosecute 40 individuals — including 19 Americans — for allegedly receiving foreign funds to support their involvement in the nation’s political system, without informing the government of such funding. For Americans affiliated with the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) — organizations that have been described as “democracy-promoting groups loosely associated with America’s two major political parties” — and who may soon face legal action at the hands of the Egyptian government, the timing may be seen as particularly unfortunate. The decision to formally and substantially increase the State Department’s involvement in the “reform” process could be perceived as sending an ill-timed signal.

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This article was posted: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 at 4:24 am

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