US to boost Arab Spring nations with $770 mln aid
US President Barack Obama speaks about his 2013 Budget, consisting of $3.8 trillion, to students at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, Virginia. AFP photoUS President Barack Obama speaks about his 2013 Budget, consisting of $3.8 trillion, to students at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, Virginia.
The White House announced plans Feb. 13 to help countries swept by “Arab Spring” revolutions with around $770 million in economic aid, while cutting funds for Israeli missile defense programs by $6.3 million.
U.S. President Barack Obama unveiled a $3.8 trillion budget for 2013 and proposed $51.6 billion in funding for the U.S. State Department and foreign aid overall. Most of the new economic aid for the Arab Spring countries - $770 million - would go to a new “Middle East and North Africa Incentive Fund,” the president said in his budget plan. Officials said the bulk of this would be new money, and would be spent on initiatives to support long-term economic, political, and trade reforms for countries in transition such as Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen.
Cut of funding to Israel
“We’re in a new world. The Arab Spring has come,” Reuters quoted Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides as saying, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s chief budget official.
“We need to make sure we have the tools and flexibility in which to fund these initiatives [...] The world is evolving as we see it, and we feel it is important to have a pool of money.” Nides did not say how the Middle East and North Africa Incentive Fund would be divided between countries, or give any other details of the plan. Meanwhile, the budget proposal includes a $6.3 million reduction in the funding of Israel’s missile defense programs, Ynetnews website reported yesterday.
U.S. officials said this is the second consecutive year the Obama administration has cut its support for the development of Israel’s Short Range Ballistic Missile Defense program and the Arrow System Improvement Program. According to the officials, in 2011 the administration requested $121.7 million in military aid for Israel’s major missile defense programs. That number dropped to $106.1 million in the 2012 budget proposal, and dropped again to $99.8 million in President Obama’s newly released 2013 budget proposal.