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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Press Relations Office > Press Releases (Other) > 2005 > March
Fact Sheet
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
March 9, 2005


The United States and Mideast Work Together for Democratic Reform

The Middle East Partnership Initiative is sending a message of strong United States' support for reform efforts in the region. The Partnership Initiative funds over 100 programs in 14 countries to achieve the reform goals that President Bush outlined in launching the Initiative in December 2002. Designed to benefit all people of the region, especially women and youth, this Presidential initiative supports innovative, sustainable, and locally led political, economic, and educational reform efforts in the Middle East and North Africa.

FUNDING

To date, the United States has committed $293 million for funding under the Middle East Partnership Initiative over four fiscal years including $74.4 million in FY 2005. These funds are in addition to bilateral economic assistance of over one billion dollars provided annually to countries of the Middle East and North Africa.

REFORM AGENDA and RESULTS TO DATE

Democratic Reform: The Middle East Partnership Initiative has helped put reform on the agenda throughout the region. Working with local civil society and government officials who promote democratic practices and political openness, the political pillar of the Partnership Initiative has developed networks of like-minded citizens who are working for democratic change in their countries.

  • Among the hallmark activities was the judicial conference in Bahrain in 2003 attended by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Its success helped launch the "Women and the Law" workshop in 2004 and a subsequent program for activities raising women’s awareness on their rights and providing legal assistance.

  • This program also led to a commercial law reform program, support for Alternative Dispute Resolution workshops, and plans for the creation of a regional justice institute.

  • Regional Campaign Schools for women candidates and expanded political party training have benefited present and future candidates and spread voter knowledge and participation. A 2004 grant will fund the creation of a legislative resource and training center in the Gulf region.

Economic Reform: The economic pillar of the Middle East Partnership Initiative is helping to achieve the President's vision of a Middle East Free Trade Area by 2013 by providing technical assistance to help countries negotiate free trade agreements with the U.S., comply with their Trade and Investment Framework Agreements, and accede to the World Trade Organization.

  • The Initiative’s technical assistance has already helped led to two major successes: the conclusion of Free Trade Agreements with Morocco and Bahrain.

  • The economic pillar is also supporting changes in the regulatory environment and financial sector by funding the work of the Financial Services Volunteer Corps, programs in commercial law, and training by U.S. government experts.

  • Partnership programs are helping to develop small- and medium-sized enterprises--the engines of economic growth--by training entrepreneurs and placing young Arab women in internship in Fortune 500 companies.

  • Under the Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiative, funds from the bilateral program are supporting the International Finance Corporation's work to create a better business environment for small and medium enterprises as well as the creation of a regional microfinance training center by the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor and the establishment of entrepreneurship centers in Morocco and Bahrain.


Quality Education: Recognizing that reform and democratic change will take time, the education pillar partners with non-governmental organizations and regional governments to lay a foundation of quality and relevant education upon which sustainable transformation in all sectors will be built.
  • With the Jordan Education Initiative, the Middle East Partnership Initiative supports

  • The application of technology innovation and subject matter expertise to create a new interactive on-line curriculum and teaching materials for English-as-a-Foreign Language that will help provide students the skills necessary to compete in the global economy.

  • "My Arabic Library" is a major new effort to encourage reading, thinking, and analytical skills in young students; it also actively engages teachers, parents, and the community.

  • The Initiative’s "Student Leaders: Study of the United States Institutes" provides a network of young, highly-motivated men and women with practical and theoretical instruction in leadership, problem-solving, and entrepreneurial skills, as well as a taste of American society. These student leaders are the region’s future leaders in the civil society, private sector, government and community, and successful entrepreneurs. They are the foundation upon which the region can be transformed.

  • The Middle East Partnership Initiative is also supporting the Arabic Regional Resource Network of the Global Learning Portal, which will provide quality education resources worldwide and develop a collaborative online network linking teachers, educators, and educational institutions worldwide to foster the exchange of information. The Portal supports the G-8 commitment to education reform under the Broader Middle East and North Africa initiative.

Empowering Women: Where legislative breakthroughs have occurred, such as the new Moroccan family law, projects sponsored under the women’s pillar by the Middle East Partnership Initiative have benefited women by supporting public education programs to help assure the law is widely understood and observed.

  • Programs in other areas, such as Regional Campaign Schools, equip women with the skills and strategies to reduce the barriers to fuller participation in all aspects of community life including political leadership.

  • The Partnership Initiative supported the fieldwork and production of Freedom House’s survey on the Status of Women’s Freedom in the Middle East, which will be published in March 2005. Covering most countries of the region, this survey will raise awareness among the general population, empower women’s groups to increase activities that enhance women’s freedom, and outline areas for future women’s programming.

In June 2004, the G8 launched the Partnership for Progress and a Common Future with the Region of the Broader Middle East and North Africa (G8-BMENA). The central element of this initiative is the "Forum for the Future," which serves as a framework for regular meetings at the ministerial level between the G8 and the participating regional countries focused on reform issues. The Forum also includes outreach to the private sector and non-governmental organizations community. In addition, there are specific initiatives agreed to at Sea Island, including a microfinance initiative, a literacy program, entrepreneurial training programs, a democracy assistance dialogue, a private enterprise development facility at the International Finance Corporation. The U.S. Government, primarily through the Middle East Partnership Initiative, is providing approximately $22 million for four of these initiatives: a microfinance center, entrepreneurial training for small and medium enterprises, an education information technology initiative, and two entrepreneurship centers in Bahrain and Morocco.

More information about the Middle East Partnership Initiative can be found at http://mepi.state.gov.

2005/302

Released on March 9, 2005

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