The President’s Budget Request for Fiscal Year 2009: Democracy, Governance, and Human Rights in the Middle East

The President’s Budget Request for Fiscal Year 2009: Democracy, Governance, and Human Rights in the Middle East

By Stephen McInerney

For a full text copy of the report, click here.

As Congress now prepares to begin the appropriations process for Fiscal Year 2009 (FY09), this report examines the President’s budget request for FY09 from the perspective of de­mocracy, governance, and human rights in the Broader Middle East and North Africa (BMENA).

The report highlights trends and changes in funding levels over the past several years and breaks down the budget request by strategic objective, by program area, and by country. Par­ticular attention is paid to funding requested for the various programs designated under the State Department strategic objective of Governing Justly and Democratically (GJD). Finally, it draws conclusions regarding proposed funding changes and the potential consequences for the prospects of democratic reform in the region, and anticipates the likely reactions of Congress.

Key findings:

  • The FY09 budget request includes $7.41 billion in assistance for the Broader Middle East and North Africa, a 5.1% increase over the levels granted by Congress for FY08.
  • Requested funding for democracy and governance programs in the BMENA region is $758 million, an 89% increase over FY08 levels. This is 10.2% of the total request for the region, higher than the fraction of the budget in any previous year. GJD programs have received steady increases in funding throughout the Bush administration, and annual levels of funding now exceed the total granted for such programs from 1991 to 2001.
  • Increases in funding for democracy and governance are requested for Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, the West Bank and Gaza, and Yemen. Requested GJD funds for Egypt match FY08 levels; the Gulf states and Turkey continue to receive only military assistance, while bilateral GJD assistance to Tunisia is eliminated entirely in the FY09 request.
  • Despite the increases, funding for democracy and governance across the region remains less than 1% of annual Department of Defense (DOD) expenditures in Iraq alone. And even within the international affairs account for the BMENA region – normally thought of as the “soft power” counterpart to the DOD budget – 69% is designated for various forms of military assistance, as compared with only 10% for democracy and governance.

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