FACT SHEET: The State Department Office of the Middle East Partnership Initiative’s Support for the Democratic Aspirations of the Tunisian People
Since January 2011 and in immediate response to the Tunisian Revolution, the United States has committed approximately $55 million in non-security assistance in support of Tunisia’s democratic transition. The Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) at the Department of State is the principal contributor to the overall non-security assistance the United States is providing, leading the U.S. Government’s efforts to support the Tunisian people during this historical transition. After January 14, 2011, MEPI realigned its budget to free up more than $26 million, supporting more than 30 projects in Tunisia working directly with Tunisian society. Through its regional office in Tunis and headquarters in Washington, DC, MEPI has worked with Tunisians since 2002, supporting their aspirations for prosperity and long-term stability. MEPI currently supports programming in the following areas:
Enhancing Tunisian Civil Society
MEPI continues to expand its engagement with local civil society organizations through its unique local grants program, which directly supports civic groups throughout the country. MEPI local grants respond to priorities and proposals from local organizations, ensuring that Tunisians remain in front of their democratic transition and have opportunities to get involved in civic life. Since January 2011, MEPI’s Regional Office in Tunis has awarded more than 15 new local grants to advance the role of Tunisia’s civil society with a focus on women and youth. Grantees such as the Center for Arab Women Training and Research (CAWTAR) are working to increase public awareness about citizen rights, gender equality, and active citizenship. MEPI has awarded two larger grants to Mercy Corps and Search for Common Ground, both working with Tunisian civil society organizations across the country to promote civic engagement with youth from the capital and coastal cities to the interior of the country.
Expanding Freedom of Expression and Strengthening Political Participation
New MEPI projects are empowering citizens, especially women and youth, to share their ideas with national and international audiences and to discuss social issues and governmental actions through blogging and internet-based media sites. MEPI local grantee Club UNESCO created a youth-run web-radio station to cover political events, and the Tunisian American Association for Management Studies (TAAMS) is working with youth to develop their sense of responsibility for the democratic process while instilling the values of tolerance. The Institute of International Education (IIE) is building the capacity of civil society organizations to effectively use new media – such as Facebook, Twitter, blogging, and other internet-based tools – to strengthen constituent outreach, inform and engage communities, and improve communication with government institutions on social and political issues. MEPI is also working with the Institute of War and Peace Reporting to increase the quality of local news coverage by engaging with members of the media and citizen journalists, placing an emphasis on accurate political reporting throughout the country.
Advancing the Rule of Law
MEPI is assisting Tunisians to develop and promote a new legal system that is accessible and fair and that protects the rights of all citizens. In partnership with the American Bar Association (ABA), MEPI is promoting legal reforms across a range of sectors in Tunisia. ABA is partnering with the Tunisian Bar Association and other legal entities to reform Tunisia’s electoral code, address citizen electoral complaints, and improve women’s legal rights and participation in the political process. Later this year, ABA will work with its Tunisian partners to organize a national forum on the role of women in transitional processes focusing on comparative experiences; women’s rights in law and constitutional reform; and advocacy for law reform. Participants will include women jurists, rights groups, civil society organizations, and political party representatives, among others.
Widening Economic Opportunity
Since January of 2011, MEPI has increased its assistance in market-relevant skills training, job placement, and access to start-up business resources. With MEPI support, the Education for Employment Foundation (EFE) recently launched job placement and entrepreneurship programs for youth throughout Tunisia. MEPI’s regional partner Injaz Al-Arab is inspiring a culture of business innovation among Tunisian youth through business plan competitions for hundreds of young entrepreneurs. In addition, the Commercial Law and Development Program (CLDP) and the Financial Services Volunteer Corps (FSVC) are supporting entrepreneurship and franchising, as well as reforms to the country’s commercial legal infrastructure.
The United States is committed to supporting the Tunisian transition and the Tunisian efforts to build strong foundations for democratic growth and economic opportunity. MEPI plans to devote additional resources in the months and years ahead to assist Tunisia in becoming a more pluralistic, participatory, and prosperous society, as well as a stable and successful example of democratic transition in the region. For more information about MEPI, please visit www.mepi.state.gov. Click here to learn about the President’s Framework for Investing in Tunisia, or visit www.whitehouse.gov.
The United States and Jordan have a long standing partnership and Jordan has been a regional leader on political and economic reform. Recognizing Jordan’s important role in the Middle East, the U.S. Government supports Jordan in a variety of ways to address its development challenges, meet its reform targets, and strengthen the ability of its security forces to play a constructive leadership role in the region.
Economic Assistance Programs
U.S. economic assistance aims to keep Jordan on the path to growth and development, while supporting the Government of Jordan in advancing a political, economic, and social reform agenda. The programs include:
USAID programs in Jordan are based on $363 million in Economic Support Funds (ESF) in FY 2010 and another $100 million in supplemental assistance from FY 2010. The programs include:
$76 million to support Jordan’s education reform initiatives;
$49.5 million to address priorities in the public health sector;
$22 million to enhance the life and employability skills of youth in underprivileged areas and to help alleviate poverty;
$55.5 million to spur trade, increase investment, and create job opportunities for Jordanians;
$26 million to support political development;
$30 million for water and environment and $10 million for energy; and
$194 million in cash transfer assistance to assist the Jordanian Government decrease its international debt and advance its reform initiatives.
Civil Society Programs
The Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) works with Jordanian partners to empower civil society organizations (CSOs) and cultivate a robust private sector. MEPI is working through a dozen different projects with civil society groups, women’s organizations, political parties, and youth, enriching Jordanian civic life and enhancing participation in the political process. MEPI also supports Jordanian efforts to reform the judicial system to make it more independent, accountable, reliable, and transparent. While MEPI funds are used region-wide, for FY 2010, Jordan-specific awards or those with a Jordanian component total $600,000 to date.
Millennium Challenge Corporation
The Millennium Challenge Corporation signed a five-year, $275.1 million compact with Jordan in October 2010. The compact will increase the supply of water available to households and businesses and help improve the efficiency of water delivery, wastewater collection and wastewater treatment.
OPIC Investment Programs
The U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) is looking to provide over $400 million in financing to mobilize $1 billion of development projects in Jordan. The projects focus on infrastructure development in the transportation, energy, and tourism sectors and represent potential partnerships between American and Jordanian businesses to promote shared economic growth. OPIC’s initiatives in Jordan are a subset of its broader commitment to provide $2 billion of financing over the next 3 years to stimulate private investment in the Middle East and North Africa. Because OPIC operates on a self-sustaining basis, its activity in the MENA region will generate returns for the U.S. taxpayer while also promoting job creation in the region.
Security Assistance Programs
Military assistance, totaling $300 million in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and $3.8 million in International Military Education and Training (IMET) in FY 2010, supports the Jordanian Armed Forces’ (JAF) five-year plan for modernization, readiness, and enhanced interoperability between the JAF, U.S., and NATO forces to advance regional and global security. In addition, military assistance supports procurement and installation of technology to enhance Jordan’s border security.
Nonproliferation, Antiterrorism, Demining, and Related Programs (NADR) funds, totaling $24.6 million in FY 2010, develop and implement strategic trade controls and build law enforcement capacities to better safeguard borders, manage threats, and respond to crises.
International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INCLE) funding, totaling $1.5 million in FY 2010, supports three priorities, including: 1) anti-money laundering through the Anti-Money Laundering Unit; 2) combating gender based violence through training and technical assistance for law enforcement and justice sector personnel; and 3) improving the Government of Jordan’s capacity to enforce intellectual property rights laws.
The State Department has a long history of supporting reform efforts in Bahrain, through direct diplomatic engagement and projects of the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI).
During the past eight years, MEPI has worked strategically with Bahraini partners on a reform agenda focused on political pluralism, women’s rights, youth empowerment, labor, civil society strengthening and legal and judicial reform. Engagement around these issues has included opportunities for dialogue and collaboration between government and non-government stakeholders.
MEPI supports the growth and aspirations of Bahrain’s peaceful civil society. Recent programming with civil society partners has focused on raising awareness of women’s rights at the community level; developing documentary films and public service announcements on domestic violence; conducting trainings on disability rights, strengthening civil society, governance and transparency, human rights and media monitoring, and training for female candidates.
Since September 2009, the American Bar Association, with MEPI funding, has been working with the Ministry of Justice and local bar associations to increase judicial capacity, improve legislative drafting, and promote professionalism among Ministry officials.
The U.S. Embassy has emphasized youth programs, including enhanced collaboration with academic institutions, and exchange and scholarship programs focused on promising young Bahrainis.
Secretary Clinton delivered a keynote address at the Manama Dialogue in Bahrain on December 3, 2010, in which she highlighted “human security” as one of four main principles critical to maintaining Gulf security. She defined human security as including participatory governance, freedom of expression, free access to education and employment, and women’s empowerment. While in Manama, the Secretary also held a town hall meeting to directly engage with civil society and youth.
DRL Deputy Assistant Secretary Kathy Fitzpatrick visited Bahrain on January 11 to engage the Government of Bahrain and advocate for reforms, including on its incarceration policies, commitment to transparent judicial proceedings, and civil society development.
Assistant Secretary Feltman has visited Bahrain five times since demonstrations began in February to address unrest and political reform.
The State Department has expressed deep concern about the detention of civil society leaders and opposition politicians, as well as Bahraini moves to clamp down on opposition political activities and independent media. Secretary Clinton issued a statement on March 19 in support of political reform in Bahrain, saying “our goal is a credible political process that can address the legitimate aspirations of all the people of Bahrain.”
Deputy Secretary Steinberg visited Bahrain May 17 and affirmed the long-standing commitment of the United States to a strong partnership with both the people and government of Bahrain and stressed the importance of full respect for universal human rights. He urged all parties to pursue a path of reconciliation and comprehensive political dialogue.