Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism
May 10, 2006
Middle East Partnership Initiative
The State Departmentís Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) is a presidential initiative launched in 2002 so that democracy can spread, education can thrive, economies can grow, and women can be empowered in the Middle East. It has funded more than 350 programs in 14 countries and the Palestinian territories, ranging from support for election monitoring to improvements in the quality of education and to efforts seeking a greater role for women in society.
The Initiative is a partnership that works closely with academic institutions, the private sector, and non-governmental organizations in the Arab world with the goal of building a vibrant civil society so reform can flourish.
Since its launch in 2002, MEPI has received $293 million to fund initiatives leading to democratic and other reforms. Congress has appropriated an additional $99 million for the current fiscal year for this successful transformational diplomacy initiative.
In 2005, MEPI reported the following success stories:
- Increased the transparency of Lebanon's historic elections in 2005 through support to domestic monitoring organizations, voter education, journalists, and candidates.
- Provided support to more than 2,000 domestic election monitors for Egypt's first multi-candidate presidential election.
- Supported the only live satellite broadcasts of Arab parliamentary sessions.
- Supported national and local political party organizations and their members in countries that will have new rounds of municipal and parliamentary elections between 2005 and 2007.
- Strengthened the role of civil society in the democratic process by facilitating dialogue among activists, NGOs, and foreign ministers at G8/BMENA (Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiative) meetings, and by awarding direct grants to more than 70 indigenous civil society organizations.
- Provided entrepreneurial training for more than 180 participants, almost half of them women, from 16 Middle Eastern and North African countries. Twenty alumni have started or expanded businesses. At least 150 new jobs have been created.
- Extended credit and services to small and medium-sized businesses through peer consultation and training for regional banks and financial organizations.
- Established self-sustaining Junior Achievement chapters in 12 countries throughout the Middle East; more than 10,000 students have participated. Created public-private partnerships that assisted in the sustainability of Junior Achievement chapters.
- Expanded trade capacity of Arab countries with training and technical assistance; a number of Gulf countries are drafting new labor laws and updating agricultural import/export standards.
- Provided English language study to more than 1,500 underserved youth from 13 countries in the Middle East through a micro-scholarship program. Because of the program's initial success, the program size is being increased to reach a total of 13,000 people, with an added focus on civic responsibility.
- Empowered young, highly motivated Arab men and women with leadership, problem solving, and entrepreneurial skills through intensive five-week institutes. More than 135 students have participated, and many started their own projects back home.
- Supported a regional civic-education network that promotes youth civic awareness and involvement. Examples of youth-led projects include starting after-school classes for poor students and improving health services at local hospitals.
- Promoted literacy with an initiative to provide more than 80 titles of high-quality American childrenís books to more than 3,000 schools in three Middle Eastern countries.
- More than 300 women from the Middle East and North Africa participated in innovative three-week programs that taught political campaign skills.
- Provided entrepreneurial skills to women through regional micro-enterprise an business internships that include a one-month executive MBA program and a three month internship at Fortune 500 businesses. The participants included 42 women from 16 countries.
- Built a professional network for Arab women legal professionals that offers professional development training programs, policy roundtables, mentoring, and a resource directory.
- Provided training for judges and legal professionals on issues ranging from the family code to domestic violence and honor killings.