"U.S. support for democracy, governance, and human rights in the Middle East and North Africa is needed now as much as ever. This report aims to examine the degree and nature of that support, by way of the federal budget and appropriations process. It aims to analyze and assess the approach of the U.S. administration and Congress to budgets, spending, and foreign assistance, and to draw conclusions regarding broader priorities and thinking in terms of U.S. policy against the backdrop of dramatic political changes across the Arab world."
As we examine the Fiscal Year 2014 budget and appropriations for the Middle East and North Africa, the challenges are daunting. The political transitions underway in the region have encountered considerable difficulties that threaten the democratic progress made since 2011. And in the United States, any discussion of appropriations must consider the extraordinarily tight budget climate that has resulted from sizable cuts across the board due to the federal sequester.
In this environment, the Obama administration has admirably worked to prioritize, maintain, and increase funding to the region. But support for democracy in the Middle East is not only about budget numbers. If programming to support democracy, governance, and human rights is to be successful, it must be accompanied by clear political support and be integrated with policy. President Obama articulated this in May 2011, when he committed to supporting democratic principles in the Middle East with "all of the diplomatic, economic and strategic tools at our disposal." Regrettably, the administration's policies have not reflected that approach. While maintaining levels of funding, the administration has failed to develop effective strategies for supporting democracy in transitioning countries and has failed to meaningfully push for reform in countries where authoritarian allies remain in place.