U.S. Pledges Yemen Aid, Forgoes Broader Mideast Package
International donors pledged an additional $1.5 billion for Yemen’s political and humanitarian programs on Thursday at the fourth annual Friends of Yemen conference, on top of the $6.4 billion pledged at a similar meeting last month. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns addressed the high-level meeting in New York, announcing $346 million of U.S. aid to Yemen in 2012, more than double the amount that the U.S. gave last year. Included in the U.S. aid package is $117 million for humanitarian assistance, $68 million in development and transition assistance, and $161 million in combined State Department and Defense Department security funds. “There can be no lasting stability and no freedom from extremism in Yemen without political reform and economic progress,” Burns said. Yemen’s President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi said the new funds will facilitate transition activities, including the national dialogue conference that is expected to run from December until May.
Josh Rogin reported the State Department’s large Middle East Incentive fund was put on indefinite hold this week, the result of the ongoing stalemate between Senate and House negotiators. The State Department had requested $770 million to “support emerging democracies in places like Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya,” but the Republican-controlled House blocked funding for the program and it was not attached to the Continuing Resolution passed last week. ”This is Congress making the administration limp along in its response to the Arab Spring. It’s a missed opportunity,” said Tamara Wittes, the director of Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy.