[House Hearing, 112 Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
ASSESSING U.S. FOREIGN POLICY PRIORITIES AND
NEEDS AMIDST ECONOMIC CHALLENGES IN THE MIDDLE EAST
THE MIDDLE EAST AND SOUTH ASIA
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED TWELFTH CONGRESS
MAY 9, 2012
Serial No. 112-147
Printed for the use of the Committee on Foreign Affairs
Available via the World Wide Web: http://www.foreignaffairs.house.gov/
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COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Florida, Chairman
CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
DAN BURTON, Indiana GARY L. ACKERMAN, New York
ELTON GALLEGLY, California ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American
DANA ROHRABACHER, California Samoa
DONALD A. MANZULLO, Illinois DONALD M. PAYNE, New Jersey--
EDWARD R. ROYCE, California deceased 3/6/12 deg.
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio BRAD SHERMAN, California
RON PAUL, Texas ELIOT L. ENGEL, New York
MIKE PENCE, Indiana GREGORY W. MEEKS, New York
JOE WILSON, South Carolina RUSS CARNAHAN, Missouri
CONNIE MACK, Florida ALBIO SIRES, New Jersey
JEFF FORTENBERRY, Nebraska GERALD E. CONNOLLY, Virginia
MICHAEL T. McCAUL, Texas THEODORE E. DEUTCH, Florida
TED POE, Texas DENNIS CARDOZA, California
GUS M. BILIRAKIS, Florida BEN CHANDLER, Kentucky
JEAN SCHMIDT, Ohio BRIAN HIGGINS, New York
BILL JOHNSON, Ohio ALLYSON SCHWARTZ, Pennsylvania
DAVID RIVERA, Florida CHRISTOPHER S. MURPHY, Connecticut
MIKE KELLY, Pennsylvania FREDERICA WILSON, Florida
TIM GRIFFIN, Arkansas KAREN BASS, California
TOM MARINO, Pennsylvania WILLIAM KEATING, Massachusetts
JEFF DUNCAN, South Carolina DAVID CICILLINE, Rhode Island
ANN MARIE BUERKLE, New York
RENEE ELLMERS, North Carolina
ROBERT TURNER, New York
Yleem D.S. Poblete, Staff Director
Richard J. Kessler, Democratic Staff Director
Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio, Chairman
MIKE PENCE, Indiana GARY L. ACKERMAN, New York
JOE WILSON, South Carolina GERALD E. CONNOLLY, Virginia
JEFF FORTENBERRY, Nebraska THEODORE E. DEUTCH, Florida
ANN MARIE BUERKLE, New York DENNIS CARDOZA, California
RENEE ELLMERS, North Carolina BEN CHANDLER, Kentucky
DANA ROHRABACHER, California BRIAN HIGGINS, New York
DONALD A. MANZULLO, Illinois ALLYSON SCHWARTZ, Pennsylvania
CONNIE MACK, Florida CHRISTOPHER S. MURPHY, Connecticut
MICHAEL T. McCAUL, Texas WILLIAM KEATING, Massachusetts
GUS M. BILIRAKIS, Florida
TOM MARINO, Pennsylvania
ROBERT TURNER, New York
C O N T E N T S
The Honorable Jeffrey D. Feltman, Assistant Secretary of State,
Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, U.S. Department of State....... 6
The Honorable Mara Rudman, Assistant Administrator for the Middle
East Bureau, U.S. Agency for International Development......... 21
Mr. Mark Ward, Deputy Special Coordinator for Middle East
Transitions, U.S. Department of State.......................... 28
LETTERS, STATEMENTS, ETC., SUBMITTED FOR THE HEARING
The Honorable Jeffrey D. Feltman: Prepared statement............. 9
The Honorable Mara Rudman: Prepared statement.................... 23
Hearing notice................................................... 48
Hearing minutes.................................................. 49
The Honorable Gerald E. Connolly, a Representative in Congress
from the Commonwealth of Virginia: Prepared statement.......... 50
ASSESSING U.S. FOREIGN POLICY PRIORITIES AND NEEDS AMIDST ECONOMIC
CHALLENGES IN THE MIDDLE EAST
WEDNESDAY, MAY 9, 2012
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on the Middle East
and South Asia,
Committee on Foreign Affairs,
The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 2 o'clock p.m.,
in room 2172 Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Steve Chabot
(chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. Chabot. All right, we will go ahead and get started
here. The subcommittee will come to order. Good afternoon. I
want to welcome all of my colleagues, those here and not here,
to this hearing of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and
The purpose of this hearing is to follow up the recent full
committee hearing with the Secretary of State and the USAID
Administrator. Today we will focus on the Middle East component
of the Fiscal Year 2013 budget, and next week we will hear from
administration officials on the South Asia component.
Just over a year ago, the subcommittee heard testimony on
the Fiscal Year 2012 budget. Although many of the themes that I
am sure we will discuss are similar, the context could not be
more different. A year ago, I was cautiously optimistic that
the so-called Arab Spring might usher democracy and human
rights into a region where both have been exceptions rather
than the rule. Now 1 year later, the picture looks very
different. The Muslim Brotherhood is on the verge of holding
virtually complete control of the Egyptian civilian government,
Syria is collapsing into a civil war, potentially, in which
nearly 12,000 people have already perished and there seems to
be no end in sight. The regime in Tehran has all but quashed
all popular opposition and continues to advance in its quest
for a nuclear weapons capability. Israelis and Palestinians do
not even appear to be close to resuming negotiations despite
repeated Israeli overtures, and Iraq, which had looked
surprisingly stable, is embroiled in a political crisis which,
if not checked, has the potential to sink the entire country
back into widespread sectarian conflict. We certainly hope that
is not happening, pray that that does not happen, but that
could very well be what we have facing us. And on top of that,
international institutions like the United Nations have ground
to a halt due to foot-dragging by countries like Russia and
China who continue to shirk their own responsibilities as
members of the international community.
But while the region continues to change, U.S. core
national security interests have not. Maintaining shipping
lanes, securing energy for the world economy, ensuring regional
stability and combating terrorism still remain critical
priorities. Collectively, the current situation poses one of
the most serious challenges in the Middle East that the U.S.
has faced in decades. And while I am sure that the
administration understands the nature of the challenges, I am
not so sure that its policies are the most effective in
The flagship program in the Fiscal Year 2013 budget is the
proposed Middle East and North African Incentive Fund, which
despite its $770 million price tag and very broad authorities,
appears to share the same core mechanism as many other
assistance programs. Many assistance programs are intended to
incentivize countries to reform. Very few of them cost nearly
$1 billion and require notwithstanding authority. Furthermore,
I fear this fund risks reinforcing a chronic bad behavior in
the implementation of our foreign assistance, substituting
money for thoughtful policy. Reflexively throwing taxpayer
dollars at problems is not effective policy, and I fear the
lack of details about how this fund will operate as well as the
very broad authorities requested, make it more likely that the
money will at best be wasted and will at worst enable hasty and
I have my doubts about our country-specific policies as
well. The administration's current policy in Syria relies on
sanctions and diplomacy, and while the sanctions that have been
implemented by the U.S. and its allies around the world are
certainly having an effect, I fear they will not achieve the
stated goal to actually bring about the removal of Assad from
power. Similarly, some today are looking to Kofi Annan's six-
point plan for Syria and the establishment of a U.N. observer
mission with optimism. I am afraid that I do not share this
optimism, and I hope our witnesses here today will discuss what
next steps the administration is planning if, and likely when,
the current diplomacy fails.
In Eqypt, the administration, Egyptians, or both do not
seem to have grasped the seriousness of the situation. The
December 29th, 2011 raid on civil society NGOs calls into
question the Government of Egypt's commitment to the principles
of democratic governance. And although it may not have intended
to do so, the administration's decision on March 23rd to waive
a certification on Egyptian democratic progress prior to the
obligation of military aid sent the wrong message to parties
throughout the region that when push comes to shove, our money
will keep flowing despite whatever preexisting conditions we
may have set. Furthermore, a near obsessional fear of the
perceived foreign intervention among Egyptians limits what kind
of assistance may be possible going forward even with the best
Decisions about U.S. foreign assistance must ultimately be
shaped by the choices and policies made by regional
governments. We have an interest in strongly supporting
democratic governments that respect the rights of their
citizens and rule of law that foster greater economic
opportunity and that observe international obligations. I fear,
however, that if the current trajectory of the region continues
unchanged, our assistance programs to many of the countries in
question will have to be reevaluated.
And at this time, Mr. Ackerman, I don't know if you can get
in your talk in about 3 or 4 minutes, probably not. If not,
perhaps we should go ahead and adjourn, go to the floor and
come back. So we will go ahead and do that then at this point,
so we will be back, and maybe a little less than \1/2\ hour
since we used up some of the 20 minutes in this vote. So we are
in recess for a short period of time.
Mr. Chabot. The committee will come back to order. It has
been brought to my attention that we have a number of
distinguished high-ranking officers from around the world who
are with us here this afternoon, currently at the War College,
and on behalf of the subcommittee we would like to ask them to
perhaps stand, and we would like to welcome them to our
committee and thank them for their service. Thank you very
Mr. Chabot. Thank you very much. And at this time, by
popular demand it has been suggested that I should give my
opening statement again--just kidding. So we will at this point
turn to the ranking member of the committee, the distinguished
gentleman from New York, Mr. Gary Ackerman, to give his opening
Mr. Ackerman. I think there has been an equal demand that I
not make any statement. We will proceed as we usually do. Thank
you, Mr. Chairman.
The chairman organized today's hearing to discuss our
priorities in foreign assistance in the Middle East in the
coming year. I will tell you what the first priority ought to
be, meeting the President's request for increased foreign
assistance in the Middle East in the coming year.
At a time when the entire region is in the midst of a
generational upheaval and with the threat of an Iranian nuclear
weapons capability drawing nearer, and it absolutely must be
stopped, now is not the time to stuff our hands in our pockets
and say that we have been doing enough. Nothing can be more
short-sighted and contrary to our national security interests
in the region than to draw back on our commitments or, worse,
pull back, disengage and leave the region's fate to be
determined wholly by others.
In the current fiscal year, U.S. foreign assistance will
total an estimated $37.7 billion, or 1.0 percent of the total
Federal budget. By comparison, defense spending will exceed
$646 billion. It is not a question of either/or, but one of
scale. Diplomacy and foreign assistance is every bit as
critical, and usually much more cost effective at protecting
and advancing American interests. To be clear, foreign
assistance needs to be understood as a vital element of our
overall national strategy, not a soft-headed but compulsory
form of charity that we impose upon our taxpayers.
We have a foreign operations budget for the same reason
that we have a Marine Corps. It proactively helps to protect
America and it advances our vital interests and national
security by dealing with problems over there before they become
problems over here. September 11th should have proved once and
for all that even if we don't visit bad neighborhoods, and
especially if we don't visit bad neighborhoods, they will visit
For many years, the Near East has been America's top
recipient region. In Fiscal Year 2012, we will spend an
estimated $8 billion and, wisely, the Obama administration has
requested a $1-billion-plus-up for the region in Fiscal Year
2013. While a significant increase, the justification is
obvious. The region in which we have vital political, economic
and military interests is in the midst of a metamorphosis, and
we continue to have vital allies who are counting on us to
fulfill our commitments to their security.
So now in addition to our traditional objectives of
promoting peace, development, and the spread of democracy,
human rights and liberal values, we have a host of specific
short-term challenges stemming from the remarkable and radical
changes that have been transforming the region. There is a
struggle of the Syrian people to free themselves from the Assad
dictatorship. This change when it succeeds, and I believe we
must facilitate that success to our utmost, will depend on the
strategic architecture of the region and deliver a fatal wound
to Iranian dreams of hegemony.
Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen are all struggling to
steady themselves and put new governments, which we certainly
hope will be democratic in outlook as well as origin, on solid
foundations, all while addressing the truly exigent problems
within. On the Arabian peninsula and in the Levant, radical,
violent Islamists are seeking to exploit the chaos while ever
seeking new havens from which they can plan attacks including
attacks on the United States. Our commitment to Iraq is
ongoing, and our support for Jordan and Lebanon and Morocco is
Finally, the bedrock commitment that we have made to
Israel, which remains a target for all radical and malevolent
forces in the region must be sustained and strengthened. At a
time when Arabs are fighting and struggling for democracy and
the fruits of limited government and rule of law, we must
continue our support for the one and only truly shining example
of these things in the entire region.
While I am bitterly disappointed with the absurd decision
by President Abbas last year to seek statehood from the U.N.,
which can't give it, while refusing to negotiate with Israel,
which can, I continue to believe that it is in the interest of
both the United States and the State of Israel to continue our
assistance to the Palestinian Authority. The transformations
wrought by Prime Minister Fayad in terms of law and order,
economic growth, and the maturation of government operations
are nothing short of remarkable, and while they absolutely
could not have happened without the support of the United
While the two sides remain at odds presently, I remain
convinced that Israel will one day be the midwife of a new
Palestinian state for the simple reason that its own vital
interests in remaining both a Jewish and a democratic state
will compel it to do so. When that day comes, our efforts to
support the Palestinian state-building enterprise will yield
remarkable dividends. Instead of a failed state or a terror
state unable to sustain itself, Israel will have another
neighbor able to fulfill its obligations both from without and
The Middle East we know for so long is dead, and a new
region is being born. Like many new born, we do not know what
will become of it and, in truth, it is not for us to determine.
What we can and should do is to help within our means, offer
counsel and assistance to those who seek it, and remain
stalwart in our protection of our partners, our allies and our
Mr. Chabot. Thank you very much, Mr. Ackerman. I appreciate
it. At this time, members, if they would so choose will have 1
minute to make an opening statement if they would like to. We
will first recognize the gentleman from Nebraska, Mr.
Mr. Fortenberry. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this
important hearing today. Assistant Secretary Feltman--
Ambassador, Mr. Ambassador, good to see you. Ms. Rudman, thank
you for joining us today, as well as you, Mr. Ward. I know we
are going to discuss our efforts as the U.S. Government toward
meaningful engagement in the Middle East during this important
time of transition with all of its uncertainties and
I would like to state that briefly my priorities for the
region are threefold and intertwined. First, it is to prevent
widescale conflict, protect Israel in view of the apocalyptic
threats levied against its very existence, and third is to help
promote just civil societies and governance structures
throughout the region that respect and reflect the needs of
local populations struggling to realize their basic human
So there is much to unpack in that brief statement, and I
will look forward to your commentary today and the follow-up
questions. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chabot. Thank you very much. The gentleman from the
Commonwealth of Virginia, Mr. Connolly, is recognized for 1
Mr. Connolly. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I want to thank
our panel for being here, and you for holding this hearing. And
I want to applaud you for your opening statement, much of which
I certainly agree with, and the caveats contained therein
definitely worthy of holding in mind.
However, I would respectfully suggest it is premature--I
just got back from Egypt--it is premature to pass judgment on
events that are unfolding in Egypt. Some make us highly
uncomfortable absolutely, and they should. But we need to give
this a little bit of time and we need to tread softly lest we
unwittingly create outcomes we wish to avoid.
And then secondly, the chairman rightfully listed,
enumerated many, many interests the United States has in this
region and I agree with all of them. But I say to the chairman
and my colleagues especially on the other side of the aisle,
the answer is not to disengage because we have these concerns.
The answer is to continue to engage and invest, however
difficult the terrain. That is what a great power does.
And so I look forward to this hearing, and I look forward
to having the opportunity to further examine the issues the
chairman so ably laid out for us.
Mr. Chabot. Thank you very much. I believe Mr. Bilirakis,
you're not--okay. Thank you very much.
And I believe next was Mr. Chandler, the gentleman from
Mr. Chandler. I pass, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chabot. And who is also from a Commonwealth.
And Ms. Schwartz, Pennsylvania, were you interested? Pass?
Mr. Murphy from Connecticut?
And finally, last but not least, Mr. Higgins? Okay,
Well, then we can go ahead and introduce our panel here
this afternoon, and we have a very distinguished panel. We
appreciate them being here. I will start with Ambassador
Jeffrey Feltman who was sworn in as Assistant Secretary of
State for Near Eastern Affairs on August 18th, 2009. A career
member of the Foreign Service since January 1986, Ambassador
Feltman previously served as Principal Deputy Assistant
Secretary in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, and from July
2004 to January 2008 he served as the U.S. Ambassador to
Lebanon. Prior to his assignment in Lebanon, he served in Iraq,
Israel and Tunisia. And we welcome you here this afternoon, Mr.
Our next witness will be Mara Rudman. And prior to becoming
Assistant Administrator for the Middle East at USAID, Mara
Rudman was a deputy envoy and chief of staff for the Office of
the Special Envoy for Middle East Peace. She served as deputy
assistant to the President and executive secretary to the
National Security Council under President Obama from January
through May 2009, and as a deputy national security advisor and
National Security Council chief of staff to President Clinton
from 1999 to 2001. Earlier in her career she served as chief
counsel to the House Foreign Affairs Committee under Chairman
Lee Hamilton. Thank you very much for being here.
And finally, Mark Ward is a career minister in the U.S.
Senior Foreign Service, and currently serves as the Deputy
Special Coordinator in the Office of Middle East Transition at
the U.S. Department of State. From July 2010 to September 2011,
he served as deputy assistant administrator for the Bureau For
Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance, and acting
director of the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance at
USAID. Mr. Ward was the special advisor on development to the
head of the United Nations mission in Afghanistan based in
Kabul, from October 2008 until July 2010.
And we welcome all three of you here this afternoon. And as
you know we have a 5-minute rule and there is a lighting
system. The yellow light will come on and let you know that you
have about 1 minute to wrap up. The red light comes on, your 5
minutes are up and we would appreciate it if you would wrap up
at or close to that time.
And we will begin with you Ambassador Feltman. You are
recognized for 5 minutes.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE JEFFREY D. FELTMAN, ASSISTANT
SECRETARY OF STATE, BUREAU OF NEAR EASTERN AFFAIRS, U.S.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Mr. Feltman. Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Ackerman,
distinguished members of the committee, thanks for inviting us
to this hearing on this important subject. It is my pleasure to
be here with my colleague, Mara Rudman, from USAID, and Deputy
Coordinator for Middle East Transitions, Mark Ward.
As the committee knows, the Middle East has both immediate
and long-term strategic interests to our country, so Chairman,
you outlined some of those interests. Our critical national
interests include countering violent extremism and Iran's
destabilizing role, securing Israel and promoting Arab-Israeli
peace, supporting reform, respect for human rights and
successful transitions to democracy, and maintaining free flows
of energy and commerce. Ultimately, each of these affects the
lives and the livelihoods of Americans and America's friends
abroad. Already we face new realities in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya
and elsewhere. At the same time, every country in the region is
affected by the same powerful forces. This means, in part, that
parties rooted in religious faith will play larger roles.
We do not yet know how our relationships will evolve with
emerging governments, Parliaments and civil societies in these
countries, and this presents a challenge for budgeting into an
uncertain future. But what we do know is that our core national
interests have not changed, while the environment in which we
pursue them is changing dramatically. And we need to respond
accordingly by establishing new partnerships while maintaining
old ones, positioning ourselves to protect and promote our
interests and help shape and influence outcomes. In this
rapidly changing environment this requires patience, creativity
and flexibility, and our ability to succeed will depend on your
When we observe new parties coming to power we hear many of
their leaders saying the right things. But President Obama and
Secretary Clinton have been crystal clear that the United
States will judge these parties based not on their words, but
on their actions and whether they uphold their commitments to
promoting peace, to the democratic rules of the game and to the
rights of minority communities and women.
During this historic period of transition, the United
States Government is faced, as Mr. Connolly said, with a clear
choice. On the one hand we could disengage and wait and see
what happens. On the other hand we could engage proactively and
seek to shape outcomes that are more favorable to our interests
and to our friends and start building today the foundations for
renewed sustainable partnerships. I understand the temptation
to wait to deliver assistance until we are certain of what will
happen, but that is a recipe for diminished influence. We are
not just a bystander in this drama nor do I believe we can
afford to act that part. We have to make the investments that
allow us to support our interests and values at a time when
many of the old arrangements are giving or changing way. Should
we step back, others who do not share our values stand ready to
try to fill the void. Our forward-leaning engagement helping
the region meet its challenges through partnership is one of
the best bulwarks we have against Iranian ambitions to dominate
A key element of our policy response is the proposal to
create the Middle East and North African Incentive Fund. With
your support, this proposal would provide the means to
incentivize the far-reaching reforms that are needed to achieve
regional security and fulfill the legitimate aspirations held
by the region's people. Lack of these reforms will continue to
undermine our interests across the board. Recognizing the
magnitude of these issues, the MENA Incentive Fund represents a
new approach for our engagement. Its structure bolsters
reformers within these governments and societies. It ties
substantial assistance to robust and credible reform agendas
developed in partnership with governments and their civil
societies linked to achieving transparent benchmarks. Simply
put, this tool both in its size and its flexibility is badly
needed to protect our interests and build successful
partnerships with a region in transition. Throughout this
process we will actively include Congress in our discussions.
We have a lot on our plate. To protect our enduring
interests we must ensure that the root causes of the upheavals
of the past year, from Tunisia to Syria, are answered by the
emergence of greater freedom, greater dignity, greater
opportunity in a region that has seen too little for too long.
This is a future that is essential to the interests of the
people of the region and to the United States. Thank you for
your consideration and your cooperation as we pursue these
[The prepared statement of Mr. Feltman follows:]
Mr. Chabot. Thank you very much, Mr. Ambassador, and also I
would note perfect timing as far as keeping within the limits.
Excellent, and good testimony as well.
Ms. Rudman, you are recognized for 5 minutes. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE MARA RUDMAN, ASSISTANT ADMINISTRATOR
FOR THE MIDDLE EAST BUREAU, U.S. AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL
Ms. Rudman. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, Ranking
Member Ackerman and members of the subcommittee, thank you for
the opportunity to discuss our Fiscal Year 2013 budget.
We see in the Middle East a region of great hope and
opportunity but also one facing daunting challenges. USAID's
assistance, as part of a broader, coordinated U.S. Government
effort not only delivers on America's values but also
constitutes an investment in the safety, security and
prosperity of this critically important region.
USAID's development experience allows us to address the
basics that fueled the Arab Spring, people's desire for
improved opportunities today and a better tomorrow for
themselves and their children. We are responding to these
aspirations and needs by providing assistance that helps
citizens engage with their governments, and helps governments
respond to the will of their people.
Our Fiscal Year 2013 budget priorities work to ensure that
democracies everywhere share some crucial traits including a
robust civil society, healthy institutions and legal frameworks
that protect the basic rights of all citizens no matter their
gender, religion or class. We are reaching out to new
audiences, new partners, to more young people and increasing
numbers of women, and to areas well beyond capital cities.
Young people in these countries, women and men, want to
participate in the economic as well as political future of
We have recognized the need to be more agile and flexible
in our approach. As we do so, we continue to rely on our core
strengths, knowledge of the societies in which we work,
experience in political and economic transitions worldwide, and
a dedicated team of Americans and local staff working to help
people who are struggling to make a better life.
Our budget request for Fiscal Year 2013 in the region is
$1.4 billion, the MENA IF request is on top of that. Countries
in the region contend with similar development challenges that
are coming from different places in terms of their recent
political history, so the nature of our approach and our
assistance differs. In countries that are experiencing violent
unrest, such as Syria, USAID as part of a coordinated U.S.
Government effort has stepped in to provide vital humanitarian
In Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen, each experienced its own
unique transition. USAID has provided varying types of support
for economic growth in civil society work. Still other
countries in the region are experiencing quieter
transformations. Morocco and Jordan are moving forward with
reforms to enhance citizen participation and voice in
government as well as to create opportunities for the future.
In Lebanon, USAID is supporting development of economic
opportunities, supporting civil society and citizen engagement
and contributing substantially in the education sector where we
support programs for meritorious youth from underserved areas.
In Iraq, in Fiscal Year 2013, USAID's focus is on helping
Iraqis use their own resources to build a self-reliant country
by continuing support for the development of governing
institutions at all levels and working with civil society
organizations including to assist vulnerable populations to
assert their rights and entitlements.
In the West Bank in Gaza, the United States' goal is to
achieve comprehensive and lasting peace. We seek to
operationalize this through two tracks. Negotiations to
establish a Palestinian state, and support for Palestinian
institution building, so that the new state has the capacity to
govern and to help ensure security, stability and needed
services. USAID's work is critical to implement this second
USAID coordinates closely with our colleagues at State to
design and support effective programs. We will work with our
State colleagues and those at other government agencies on the
$770 million Middle East and North African Incentive Fund, the
MENA IF, which Assistant Secretary Feltman has discussed and is
proposed in the President's Fiscal Year 2013 budget. This fund,
which is designed in part to reward those governments with the
political will to commit to economic and political reforms that
will support democratic change, building effective institutions
and broad-based economic growth, is critical for our ability to
work throughout the region and we welcome questions on it. New
programs like the MENA IF leverage the remarkable recent
transformation that has occurred in the region.
The storyline in the Middle East is continuing to evolve,
no doubt about it, but it is clear that the future of the
Middle East is firmly in the hands and the hearts of people in
the region. I am confident that the President's Fiscal Year
2013 budget, including the investments we have proposed, lays
the groundwork for USAID and our fellow agencies to address the
challenges and advance the beneficial change we have begun to
see in the region.
We all appreciate the opportunity to appear before you
today and we are happy to answer your questions. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Rudman follows:]
Mr. Chabot. Thank you very much.
Mr. Ward, you are recognized for 5 minutes.
STATEMENT OF MR. MARK WARD, DEPUTY SPECIAL COORDINATOR FOR
MIDDLE EAST TRANSITIONS, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Mr. Ward. No statement, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chabot. Okay, thank you. All right, we will move on to
questions at this time, and I recognize myself for 5 minutes
for that purpose. And I will open this to any of the folks who
would like to address it.
It has been 6 weeks, approximately, since the Obama
administration granted Egypt its full $1.3 billion in annual
military aid, despite the Egyptian Government's failure to meet
conditions set by Congress for advancing democracy. In granting
a waiver on national security grounds, administration officials
argued that continuing the funding was more likely to encourage
cooperation with the United States and progress on human rights
than a cutoff would. But in a number of tangible ways, U.S.-
Egyptian relations and the military's treatment of civil
society have deteriorated since the waiver was issued back on
March 23rd. The threat to nongovernmental organizations whose
prosecution triggered the threat of an aid suspension has
arguably worsened. Furthermore, Egypt's Government-controlled
press has continued a toxic campaign of anti-Americanism.
The State Department also argued that aid should continue
because Egypt had stuck to the 1979 Camp David agreements with
Israel. But after the waiver, the government unilaterally
cancelled a deal under which it was supplying Israel with
natural gas, for example. Given all of these deteriorations,
was granting Egypt's military assistance through a national
security waiver a mistake or not? And also, has the U.S. lost
its leverage to push for democracy in Egypt through its
military rulers, and what damage has this done, if any, in U.S.
credibility in promoting democracy in the region?
And Ambassador Feltman, I would start with you but anybody
else who wants to respond is welcome to do so.
Mr. Feltman. Mr. Chairman, thanks for the question. It is
an extremely important topic that was subject to a lot of
discussion. Inside the U.S. Government what was the best
approach given the options on the table?
When you look at Egypt in the macro sense, I think you can
see a lot of progress that has taken place over the past 1.5
years. There have certainly been problems. You have outlined
many of them very eloquently. But we have also seen a country
that has had multiple rounds for parliamentary elections that
have been free and fair. You have had a military government
that has as recently as this week reiterated its commitment to
turn over power to civilian authorities by July 1st.
This is not business as usual in Egypt, anything but that.
You have a transition that is underway, warts and all, moving
forward toward that transfer back to civilian authority. The
Egyptian military is going to be one of our partners in Egypt
moving forward. I mentioned in my opening statement we need to
be nurturing new partnerships, we need to be cultivating old
partnerships and Egypt is a good example. Egypt is critical to
our national security interests. Whether it comes to arms
smuggling, counterterrorism, Suez Canal, overflight issues, it
is a key element to regional stability.
You mentioned the Camp David Accords. Egypt maintains its
commitments to the Camp David Accords, and Egypt has made
remarkable progress toward transition. This was the right
decision that the Secretary made in offering the waiver. It
doesn't mean that everything in Egypt has been going perfectly,
but in a very broad sense you have had much more progress
toward democratic rule in Egypt in the past 1.5 years than you
had in 60 years, and that progress continues.
Mr. Chabot. Then just a couple of things, and you did
mention these, I would ask you to comment on those. One thing,
the threat to nongovernmental entities that has continued on a
course that we certainly don't think is particularly helpful,
and then the campaign in the media there of ongoing anti-
American rhetoric that has been ramped up and ramped up. And
then of course you mentioned, yes, that Camp David Accords are
still in existence, but when they cut off something as
important as the natural gas supply to Israel, it certainly
seems inconsistent with the spirit of the agreement. So could
you comment on those three specifically?
Mr. Feltman. Yes. One reason why the Secretary waived
rather than certified was because the freedom of association
has had some good news and some bad news. The good news is that
there are many more NGOs local, Egyptian NGOs operating at all
levels across the country now. There is much more freedom for
association than there was 2, 3, 4 years ago in Egypt today.
But there are still severe restrictions on some NGOs. We
want the case against the American, German and other NGOs that
is still underway to be dropped. And so the Secretary had
waived the certification on the right of association because of
the continuing restrictions, but there has been a lot of
progress made. On the media there are many more free media
options available to Egyptians now than there were a few years
ago. There has been progress, but you are right, there is still
state-controlled media that is putting out the sort of articles
that do trouble us, and there is still some crackdown on
bloggers and independent media. So it is another mixed bag, the
reason why it goes to certification.
On the gas, Sinai gas, both sides have told us, the
Egyptians and the Israelis have both told us this is a
commercial dispute at this point and that they wish to resolve
this through commercial negotiations, through commercial means,
and that they would prefer that we not raise this as an issue
at the political level because both sides are interpreting it
as a commercial issue.
Mr. Chabot. Thank you. My time has actually expired so I am
going to at this point yield to the gentleman from New York,
Ranking Member, for 5 minutes.
Mr. Ackerman. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The region is beset
with change. I think if you read the rollcall of nations within
the region, everybody seems to be undergoing some kind of
pressure, few of them are minor. Most of them are huge. Most of
them have a dimension of tremendous uncertainty. Some of them
have changed national leaders, some of whom who have left, some
of whom are on trial, some of whom are still there but we are
trying to push out. Some of whom have governments that are
incapable of governing. Some of them will have a government
that is completely strange and unknown to us. Most of them seem
to be having parties and candidates arise that were on our
this-can-never-happen list, and on this-can-never-happen list
of those people who are even in that country.
My question is, with all of this happening at the same time
have we added any bodies or personnel to your agency, or any of
our agencies, to deal with these additional problems which are
on top of all the problems we have historically had, or do we
just move people around and give people additional
responsibilities who have been overburdened since the beginning
Mr. Feltman. On the other side of Mara Rudman sits Mark
Ward. He represents an entirely new office in the State
Department, the Office of Middle East Transitions headed by
Ambassador Bill Taylor who is currently, I believe, in Tunisia.
And this is an office that was set up to address the very issue
that you said, that we needed to have a unit in the United
States Government that could look at these countries in
transitions, now it is Egypt, Libya and Tunisia fall under this
office, and see, are we doing everything in our power----
Mr. Ackerman. Let me rephrase the question.
Mr. Feltman [continuing]. For the most successful
Mr. Ackerman. In addition to adding real estate or square
footage in the form of an office, have we added additional
people or have we moved other people around, or is this office
or its furniture supposed to help solve the problem?
Ms. Rudman. We have done a few different things in the
field. We have used, for example, the additional DLIs, and I am
trying to remember what those initials stand for at the Agency
for International Development. A new group of young personnel
that have come into the agency over the last several years that
have restored a lot of our staff strength.
So if you are asking have they been added specifically with
the Middle East Transition, no, but have they given us a new
group of people that can come out and help us out in the field,
yes. In addition to that, in Tunisia and in Libya, we at USAID
have put people into the field in temporary positions at this
point to help to do more of the assistance work that is going
on there, in very small numbers, but we have additional people
in those two countries as well with our Office of Transition
initiative staff more specifically assigned.
Mr. Ackerman. I am just unclear. You specifically said new
young people. One might suspect that we need some senior
thinkers rather than, I have the interns in my office, I think
I will put them on this that week. I know Mr. Ward has been
around for a long time and he has given some very useful
testimony over the years to our committee. But are we just
moving personnel around or have we actually increased the
number of people, experienced people? Have we drawn from other
sectors? Judging from the answers so far, it seems that we are
trying to justify why we haven't rather than just saying, we
haven't and we don't have the resources or the finances to add
Ms. Rudman. We are working within our existing resources,
and Mr. Ward can speak to this as well. He can also explain----
Mr. Ackerman. Working within our resources means we haven't
added anybody. We have moved people around.
Ms. Rudman. Correct. But also Mr. Ward can explain the DLI
program as well, because that is, in fact----
Mr. Ackerman. Besides adding initials what does it mean?
What is DLI?
Mr. Ward. It is new foreign services officers at USAID,
Development Leadership Initiative, I think. What I was 25 years
Mr. Ackerman. So we have had that program for 25 years. We
have added nobody because of this problem or because of this
Mr. Ward. What we have done, Congressman, is for example,
my boss, Ambassador Bill Taylor. Bill was retired. We brought
him back. I was working in a completely different bureau at
USAID, not working on the Middle East, and I was brought to
focus just on this. As Ms. Rudman said, we have created new
positions in Tunisia and in Libya and staffed them up with a
mixture of junior officers but also senior officers.
Mr. Ackerman. But not new officers.
Mr. Ward. Not new, but you don't want----
Mr. Ackerman. Our chairman has been very generous. I am now
53 seconds above my 5 minutes when a no would have been
sufficient and I would have got the point.
Mr. Ward. But just so you know, for example, the senior
USAID officer in Tripoli is one of the most senior officers
that USAID has.
Mr. Ackerman. But he was doing something else before that
is my point. We have moved persons around, we have not added.
We have not said we need another 12 bodies rather than say I
will take three bodies from here and eight bodies from here.
Mr. Chabot. The gentleman's time has expired, but go ahead
if you can briefly answer it, Mr. Ambassador.
Mr. Feltman. Very briefly, in terms of the State Department
we have been able to add a handful of new positions, but for
the most part it has been shifting, looking at what the
priorities are, seeing where do we really need surge capacity
because of these transitions. So we have been able to respond
but it has mostly been in-house.
Mr. Chabot. And the gentleman's time has expired. The
gentleman from Nebraska is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. Fortenberry. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Given Mr.
Ackerman's question I was actually reflecting fondly on our
first meeting, Mr. Ambassador, I don't know if you recall this,
in the room at the Beirut Airport where you were effectively
trapped for a very long time in that country. So in that regard
I think it is worth noting that your background and commitment
to this region provides a deep reservoir of experience as we
are going through very complex changes here. So I am grateful
for your service in that regard and the continuity that you
Let me ask a couple of broad questions here. What happened
to the Green Movement in Iran?
Mr. Feltman. As I think you know, the two leaders of the
Green Movement have been under house arrest since February
2011. And sort of second tier Green Movement leaders have been
harassed, in some cases they have left the country. So there is
no new leadership that has emerged to give the Green Movement
real direction. The Green Movement still exists. You still see
examples of protests across the country. But the sort of
leadership function hasn't yet been filled after the house
arrest of the top two and the harassment of the second two.
What we have been trying to do, Congressman, is continue to
use the programs that we have available to provide tools to
civil society inside of Iran so that they can organize, try to
penetrate that electronic iron curtain that the Iranian regime
has tried to put around the country, to get information that
can hold the government accountable. So we have continued to
try to provide tools to civil society actors with the idea that
at some point new leadership will emerge that will have better
access, information, technology because of the programs that we
Mr. Chabot. Would you----
Mr. Fortenberry. Go for a moment? Sure, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chabot. I would just note for the record that I had an
in-depth conversation with a top Middle East head of government
not too long ago and this very topic came up. And he indicated
to me that the Iranian Government had filmed all this stuff
that was going on and they are systematically arresting and
eliminating not only the individuals involved, but oftentimes
entire families are wiped out. That is what the Iranian
Government is up to in that most reprehensible government that
now governs Iran.
And I yield back. Thank you, gentleman, for yielding.
Mr. Fortenberry. It certainly is a sad and difficult
situation and there were a lot of courageous people who came
forward and are still under persecution. It is our hope though
that in making such commentary like this that there are
responsible people throughout the world who are looking at the
possibility of more rational players in Iran coming forward.
As perhaps a part of a convergence that could change the
situation, and in this regard I want to talk about the economic
sanctions and how potentially effective they are. There is a
quote out of Iran recently that someone said, the soup is so
salty that even a cook cannot taste it. In other words, some of
these sanctions are beginning to potentially affect even the
elites in Iran.
Do you think that that is true that the effective
pressures, if you will, on even basic commodity prices are
lending themselves to the strengthening of potential new
players who could come along and provide more rational outcomes
for that situation in terms of new leadership in the future or
are we still in just a wait-and-see period?
Mr. Feltman. I certainly would agree with the comment that
these sanctions are having an impact, and they are focusing the
Iranian regime on the sanctions in a different way. The Iranian
regime used to sort of boast that sanctions actually
strengthened Iran that who cares about sanctions, we can do it
all ourselves. That is not the case anymore. It is clear that
the Iranian regime is looking at these sanctions and are very,
very seriously concerned. And let us remember that the real
impact of these sanctions, even the current round of sanctions,
won't hit until July when the existing oil contracts in Europe
are suspended. So the soup is already salty even to the cook.
It is going to become almost pure sea salt come July when these
oil sanctions continue to hit.
Mr. Fortenberry. Will this reempower the potential
engagement of new leadership in Iran that would capture the
will of the people and bring about the potential for more
rational players who can take a more responsible role in the
geopolitical scene in the Middle East and on the international
Mr. Feltman. I don't know at this point how long this is
going to take, but what is clear is that all the countries that
are talking to the Iranians, whether it is countries that still
have relationships with Iran, whether it is countries like us
using new media to get messages in, we are making it clear to
the Iranian people that the reason why these hardships are
there, the reason why these sanctions are there are because of
the decisions that their own government leaders are taking.
Mr. Fortenberry. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Chabot. Thank you. The gentleman's time has expired.
The gentleman from Virginia is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. Connolly. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Ms. Rudman, speaking of civil society, when I was in Egypt
I met with the Egyptian and other representatives of the NGOs,
and there is great concern in Egyptian civil society that the
United States having successfully evacuated its own personnel,
who are employees of these NGOs, we will abandon the Egyptians
left behind who we hired and an implicit commitment that we
will stand by them. They are still being arraigned. They are
still being hauled before a cage in a courtroom. These are
bright, young, educated people with passion who are trying to
remake Egypt into a much more inclusive and participatory kind
of society, with our encouragement, and they have been labeled
as foreign agents and subject to the tender loving mercies of
What is the position of the United States Government, and I
can ask you that too, Ambassador Feltman, and what are we doing
to protect these young people, and what are we doing by way of
representation to the Egyptian Government that it is not okay
and that we will not abandon these young people? And I believe
USAID funds these NGOs, doesn't it?
Ms. Rudman. We will both respond to the question but I will
let Mr. Feltman respond first and then I will.
Mr. Connolly. Okay, Mr. Ambassador?
Mr. Feltman. The Egyptian Government should drop all
charges against these NGOs.
Mr. Connolly. Should.
Mr. Feltman. Should drop all charges against these NGOs.
They should have dropped all charges months ago against these
NGOs, both the American NGOs and the others, German and
Egyptian NGOs. We continue to provide legal advice. We have
sent lawyers to Egypt to consult with the counsel for the
defendants to provide information, advice. We have allowed them
to use some of our own funding in order to pay legal bills. We
continue to engage the Egyptians at all levels on this case.
And I would note of course that we went to bat with
Interpol. When the Egyptians asked Interpol to put out red
notices to demand the arrest of 15 NGO workers, including 12
Americans, we immediately engaged with Interpol. Interpol
agreed that this was a politically motivated case. They did not
disseminate the red notices as requested by the Government of
Egypt. The Government of Egypt should take its cue from
Interpol's decision and drop these charges now.
Ms. Rudman. The work that we are doing we are doing
together, State and USAID. So that you are absolutely right,
Congressman, we are funding all of these organizations. We are
funding a great deal of the legal work that is going on, and
our lawyers, State and USAID lawyers are working hand in hand
together in Cairo as well as back here in Washington continuing
to provide the ongoing legal advice as well as in our
communications with the Government of Egypt.
Mr. Connolly. Well, let me just say based on my own
meetings with Egyptian officials including at the highest level
of the Egyptian military, until and unless the United States
makes it painfully clear to them that this is of the highest
order of magnitude to us and that this will affect bilateral
relations including the release and flow of aid money to the
military and to the economy, that it will injure our working
relationship going forward. That it will affect attitudes
certainly here in the Congress. I am concerned that to them it
seems like a second tier issue that will fade in our attention.
And I would suggest that the consequences of that are very
serious, because I can assure you on both sides of the aisle in
this Congress we are not going to let them go, and if necessary
we will take legislative action to make that point painfully
clear to the administration as well as to the Egyptian
Government. But more importantly it has a cascading effect. You
have already seen it in the United Arab Emirates. The signal
being sent, and I suggest it is being misread, I agree with
your respective characterizations, but I don't know that that
has been clearly conveyed to the Egyptian Government or to
others to our satisfaction. And I urge you strongly to make
this very clear in all representations to officials of the
Egyptian Government and the transitional government, it is not
okay. We won't forget. We will persist and this will have
Mr. Feltman. Thank you for your words on that. We will use
those words, Congressman.
Mr. Connolly. That never occurred to me but feel free.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chabot. The gentleman yielded back his time. And I
would like to join the gentleman in his emphasis on this issue
and just say loudly and clearly, there is bipartisan agreement
that the Congress is outraged relative to the treatment of the
NGOs by the Egyptian Government in this matter. And this is
across the board, and Mr. Connolly and I don't agree on too
much but this is one thing that we agree on. We would probably
agree on some other things too, but thank you very much for
making your point. I appreciate it.
The gentleman from Florida, Mr. Bilirakis, is recognized
for 5 minutes.
Mr. Bilirakis. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate it
again. Again on Egypt, the Coptic Christians make up 10 percent
of the population, roughly 13 million people, and have
historically been discriminated against and persecuted by the
Egyptian Government. Unfortunately this discrimination
continues and Coptic Christians continue to live as lower class
What the question is for the entire panel, what priority if
any has the State Department given to the plight of the Coptic
Christian community? Does the State Department see the Coptic
Christian community as an important part of a secure and
democratic Egypt? Please give me specifics and explain.
Mr. Feltman. Absolutely, Congressman, we agree with you. In
fact, it is not just in Egypt. We see religious diversity, the
role of minorities as being important across the region. It
plays into our response to the situation in Syria. It informs
how we have engaged Iraqis on their minority--it is a principle
that we use across the region, not solely in Egypt.
In Egypt I had the honor to join Anne Patterson in January
for Coptic Christmas in Cairo. We went to two different
services in Cairo in January to show by our physical presence
the U.S. recognition of the role that Coptic Christians play of
the importance of religious freedom in Egypt. There have been
some worrying statements that trouble us coming out of Egypt
and there have been some more encouraging news. For example,
there was an anti-discrimination law that was passed in October
that takes away some of the discriminatory practices that you
are referring to that we hope can be built upon with the new
government that comes in after July.
In addition, Al Azhar University, the primary Sunni Islamic
theological school globally which is based in Cairo, issued a
bill of rights, a so-called bill of rights, a few weeks ago
that included very good language on freedom of religion,
religion diversity, recognition of the role of the Copts. The
Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood has signed on to that bill of
rights. This is not enough. In particular, we are concerned
about the lack of accountability in cases of sectarian
violence. There have been horrible cases of sectarian violence
in Egypt throughout this transition, and we have seen very
little examples of accountability. We are pressing the
Egyptians for the accountability needed to send a very strong
message that acts of discrimination, sectarian violence will
not be tolerated.
But we are already engaged with the current leadership of
Egypt as well as the incoming presumed leaders, the members of
Parliament, the members of these emerging political blocs,
about the principles that should guide any healthy democracy
worldwide, the practices that any healthy democracy take in
order to ensure freedom of religion, religion diversity,
protection of vulnerable minorities, promotion of the role of
women, all of these things. We are engaged on this. They are
top priorities, sir.
Mr. Bilirakis. Yes, please.
Ms. Rudman. And I would just add to that jumping off from
what the Assistant Secretary said. In our programs with the
problem that we have had a tremendous receptiveness from them,
tremendous response from across the Parliament in terms of
their willingness and interest in engaging in precisely the
types of programming that the Assistant Secretary has
described. In addition to that specifically on projects
supporting religious freedom and tolerance, we have a project
that works with media outlets to broadcast messages that reject
extremism and violence and encourage positive dialogue between
Muslims and Christians. We have a project that works with
educators to disseminate information that is related
specifically to tolerance and pluralism and peacebuilding
within communities and is directed toward encouraging that
dealing with vulnerable communities. So those are targeted to
the challenges that you are describing with the Coptic
Christian communities and working to draw out the challenges
that those communities are facing.
And so we are trying very hard to make sure that we have
programming that is working to help those communities as well
as looking at programming more broadly that ensures that the
concerns of those communities are being dealt with as we are
working more broadly across.
Mr. Bilirakis. Thank you. I too have concerns along with my
colleagues with the release of this aid to Egypt without
restrictions or conditions. How does State plan to measure
moving forward the benefits of releasing this aid to Egypt?
Mr. Chabot. The gentleman's time has expired but you are
free to answer the question if you would like.
Mr. Feltman. Let me emphasize, Congressman, that first of
all, we exercise control over these funds at all times during
the process. These funds, of course, are expended to pay for
goods and services procured in the United States as part of our
military partnership with Egypt. But we have retained control
over these funds at all times. That allows us to make any
adjustments for any significant setbacks that could occur.
But we have confidence that the military is serious when
the military says they are going to turn over the reins of
government to civilian authorities by July. And that is a
pretty significant step on the part of the military.
Mr. Bilirakis. How much has the--Mr. Chairman, can I ask a
Mr. Chabot. The gentleman is yielded an additional minute.
Mr. Bilirakis. Well, I just want to say, how much of the
aid has been released so far? Do you intend to release it in
increments just like the Congress intended? How much has been
released thus far?
Mr. Feltman. All of the FMF, Congressman, is in a Federal
Reserve account over which we retain control. So we retain
control over those funds, but all those funds are in a Federal
Reserve account from which they can be drawn down for the
Egyptian military program.
Mr. Bilirakis. Anyone else want to add to that?
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate giving me
the additional time.
Mr. Chabot. Thank you. Absolutely, yes, but the gentleman's
time has expired.
Mr. Bilirakis. I yield back.
Mr. Chabot. Thank you. We will go to a second round at this
time, and I will yield myself 5 minutes.
Ambassador Feltman, we know that approximately 12,000
people, it may be more than that but that is the figures that
we have been using, have died at the hands of the Syrian
Government in recent months. You noted in your testimony that
U.N. Ambassador Rice has said that we will work to ensure that
there are consequences if the Syrian regime continues to ignore
the U.N. Security Council's position on these matters and
continues its murderous assaults on their own population.
What kind of consequences are we talking about and what
further atrocities have to be committed before these
consequences are triggered?
Mr. Feltman. Mr. Chairman, we all would like to see the
Annan mission succeed obviously and stopping the violence and
leading to a political transition. But all of our skepticism
is, I think, quite warranted when you see the Bashar al-Assad
not taking the steps needed to make that mission a success. But
we are not stopping and simply waiting and watching while Kofi
Annan tries to deploy his monitors. We right now are working on
an accountability initiative where we are training people
within our national partners, other countries and expert NGOs,
on how to gather evidence, preserve evidence, save evidence
that can be used for prosecution and for later accountability
against regime figures who are committing atrocities.
Accountability is one pillar we are continuing to push on in
reference to your question.
We are also increasing, frankly, our assistance to the
opposition, our nonlethal assistance to nonlethal opposition,
primarily communication equipment. It is not really a
coincidence, Mr. Chairman, that so much more imagery is coming
out of Syria today about what is, that the opposition is able
to tell its story about what they are facing. It is not really
a coincidence, and some of those can be discussed better in a
We are also working internationally to increase the
effectiveness of the sanctions regime, because we do not have a
Chapter Seven resolution from the United Nations because some
countries have blocked that. But what we do have is a lot of
like-minded countries who have economic influence on Syria, and
we are working together to make sure that our individual
bilateral sanctions are coordinated to have a greater impact as
a whole. We are continuing to do that. We are not waiting for
Kofi Annan's mission to succeed or fail.
And finally, we are continuing to address the humanitarian
situation in Syria. The United States has now committed over
$33 million to help those inside Syria as well as in
neighboring countries in need of help. So we are continuing to
work on accountability, on opposition support, on the pressure
and isolation through sanctions, and on humanitarian, even
while we would like to see the Annan mission succeed.
Mr. Chabot. All right. I have 2 minutes left. Let me shift
to Iraq. Since its inception, the Iraqi Police Development
Program, the PDP, has regrettably been plagued by mismanagement
and poor planning. Moreover, senior Iraqi leaders continue to
express skepticism about its value. In November of last year,
this subcommittee held a hearing on this very topic, and I am
disturbed that the State Department still has not formulated
what I would consider a coherent plan that has Iraqi buy-in.
The program was originally conceived to be a wide-ranging
program involving 350 American advisors at 50 field locations
across Iraq. By July 2011, it was reduced in scope by about a
half from 350 American advisors down to 190 advisors, and from
50 field sites down to 28, so just about cut in half. And
according to the Special Inspector General for Iraq
Reconstruction, only 86 PDP advisors were in-country as of
March of this year. Furthermore, the State Department's travel
warning for Iraq suggests that security restrictions have
limited the ability of all U.S. personnel to maintain mobility
within the country which is essential for them to do their
How effectively can the Iraq Police Development Program
personnel, and all U.S. Government personnel for that matter,
execute their mission in the current security environment? Are
our current aid programs viable in this environment that we see
in Iraq right now?
Mr. Connolly. Would the gentleman yield?
Mr. Chabot. I would be happy to yield.
Mr. Connolly. I thank the chair. And again I join the chair
in expressing concern about this. As the chair knows, I have
raised this in other hearings as well including with the
Secretary of State when the full committee had her.
Mr. Chabot. That is correct.
Mr. Connolly. I would just add, if the chair would allow,
one additional concern to the chairman's list, and that is,
there were no metrics. This is a program that had no metrics.
How in the world can we be investing money in a program that
has no milestones and no metrics? How can we know whether it is
efficacious or not? And there were lots of indications from
SIGIR that there was reason to question whether it was
efficacious at all. So in your answer to the chairman's
question, if the chairman will indulge, I would hope you would
also address that issue as well.
Mr. Chabot. I thank the gentleman from Virginia for
expounding upon my question, and take such time as you may
consume to answer.
Mr. Feltman. Thank you, Mr. Chairman----
Mr. Chabot. Within reason.
Mr. Feltman [continuing]. Congressman. We have just
performed a semiannual review of the PDP, of the Police
Development Program in Iraq. And probably some of this can be
briefed in more detail at a later time, but there were a couple
of principal findings that came out of the semiannual review.
First was that in Erbil, up in Iraqi Kurdistan, the program is
working as intended, as revised downward as you described, some
of the revised downwards.
The advisors are able to engage frequently with their Iraqi
counterparts. They were able to work up plans of work based on
the Iraqi Kurdistan needs in the forensics area and the needs
for how to deal nonviolently with civil disturbances, in how to
staff and make strong an Inspector General's office inside the
Ministry of Interior. So the semiannual review indicated that
the Erbil program is going as intended.
Mr. Chabot. If I could just stop you right there. What
about in the rest of the country? You have focused on----
Mr. Feltman. There are three primary findings. The first
was on Erbil. The second was on Baghdad. In Baghdad it is a
mixed bag. There has been a very good committee setup between
the Baghdad police and our police trainers to deal with a lot
of the emergency security issues, but we have not been able to
develop the full range of programs and locations that we had
anticipated even after the reduction.
The third finding was that in Basrah, in Basrah we are not
having the access that we had anticipated. In Basrah we have
more or less concluded to keep the program at a very small
level. We don't want to pull the program out of Basrah because
of the importance of Basrah to the commercial development of
Iraq. It is basically the oil capital. It is also the place
where Iran is most focused on trying to make inroads.
Now based on this semiannual review that just came out, we
will be having further revisions to the program and we will be
looking at exactly what Congressman Connolly brought up which
is, how do we measure success in a program that has changed
quite dramatically since its first conception? You remember
when we were designing this program at the same time that the
U.S. military was still there having its police program, its
security programs, it was all over the country. We now have a
far different sort of relationship with Iraq than we had then,
and the program has had to be adjusted based on the discussions
we had with the Iraqis who, frankly, are quite proud that there
is civilian Iraqi sovereign control over Iraqi institutions
Mr. Chabot. If I can I am going to cut you off there
because my time is expired long ago. I would just comment that
I think this committee wants to keep very up on what is
happening there and I think they have real concerns again in a
bipartisan manner. And I would now yield 5 minutes to the
gentleman from New York, Mr. Ackerman.
Mr. Ackerman. Thank you, Chairman. One of the challenges
you have is us. It is probably a lot bigger challenge than most
people realize. One of the concerns I have vis-a-vis the Middle
East is that there are a number of our colleagues who, in order
to demonstrate their fealty to the U.S.-Israel relationship,
will insist that we have a more prudent or a zero approach to
assistance in other countries in the region thinking that it is
an either/or situation. That you have to be against other
countries in order to be for Israel, or that we shouldn't be
giving money to countries that are not Israel, and to apply all
sorts of different kinds of tests to the application of that
kind of assistance that is completely unreasonable, illogical,
counterproductive and, indeed, very, very often destructive of
the U.S.-Israel relationship, and not helpful at all to
It is in Israel's national security interest to have a
neighborhood at peace with it. And some of our colleagues and
others who are not in Congress, who don't follow this issue as
closely except just by the bare shadows of it, want to know why
we would give money to Arab countries at all. Why would we give
money to places like Egypt? And we hear that at every hearing
and every meeting in every questioning that is done. Why don't
we wait and see what is going to happen there? And I don't know
how long they want to wait, a year, 10 years, 20 years, 50
years? Who is going to be in the region 50 years from now if we
are waiting to see?
It would also seem to me if we are not helpful during these
very formative moments in the recreation of some of these
countries that we will have zero influence whatsoever if we
withdraw the historic and traditional assistance that we have
been providing, even sometimes without metrics, that suddenly
becomes withdrawn in the face of a new leadership. My suspicion
is they will not have a very good feeling about us. My
suspicion is, I have not actually done it but I would suspect
that if somebody would take the time to draw a chart of the
countries that we have the most influence with in the region,
they are probably the same countries right down the line that
we give the most assistance to. So I would suspect if that were
the case, which I think it probably is, that we would come to
the conclusion that if we want to have more influence we should
be more involved rather than less involved.
I don't see the Israelis who are pretty smart players on
the scene, running around screaming and yelling and opposed to
assistance to some of their neighbors as I see some of my
colleagues. Because Israel knows that it is in their best
interest to have stable governments in those countries.
To cut people off as they are developing, if you think
about it as part of your family, you don't want to cut your
kids off when they are at their most vulnerable. And I am not
trying to say that other countries in the region should be
treated as our children because they are not. They are as adult
as anybody else but they are developing as a nation.
I don't know how you guys are going to handle that going
forward, but I would suggest it is one of the most challenging
problems that we have as a nation and a people and that is, we,
and I include our colleagues, do not always think. We just have
reflexive reactions. I don't like what they did in this country
or that country, let us cut them off. Sure, that is the way to
get them to love you. That is a way to get them to say hey,
maybe that is a better way of--no such thing happens.
I would think that you guys, and I suggest this very
respectfully, have to stand up to us. We are not shy about
putting questions to you. But I would suggest that this process
works a heck of a lot better if we are going to be making
policy together--and whether some of us are here or some of you
are here the next time around is not really the question. It is
really how we do this as a nation, and it has to be a dialogue.
Turn the questions around. How would you do it? How would we do
it? It shouldn't be the old Soviet, nyet. You exercise your
veto and you get no money for that but how are you going to fix
I know I have left you very little time or no time to
answer, but if the chairman would indulge maybe somebody would
like to slap me down.
Mr. Chabot. Yes?
Mr. Feltman. Mr. Chairman, may I comment even though it is
Mr. Chabot. Go right ahead.
Mr. Feltman. Congressman Ackerman, this is the dilemma that
Mr. Ackerman. This is why I like this chairman. Not the
fact that he is chairman because we would be better off if we
all were the chairmen. But I particularly like this chairman
because it is more important for him as it is for some of us to
get the answer rather than to fit it into 60 square seconds.
Mr. Feltman. This is the dilemma we face, Congressman
Ackerman, because we have all these interests. We have all
described these interests that we have. We need to pursue these
interests. These are our interests in this region that we need
to be pursuing. And to pursue these it is best to do it an
atmosphere of stability and security. But we are not going to
have that stability and security if the questions that the
Egyptian people, the Tunisian people, the Libyan people, the
Syrians have raised over the past 1.5 years aren't answered in
a satisfactory way.
And that is one reason why we have proposed the Middle East
and North African Incentive Fund was to give us the sort of
flexibility that allows us to promote and respond to the type
of reforms that can have an impact, make a difference and
restore stability, a real stability, by answering some of the
questions, the demands that people raised last year. We have a
lot of strategic, enduring partnerships in this region. Most of
our assistance budget that comes from the generosity of the
U.S. taxpayers is tied up in strategic, enduring partnerships
having to do with the FMF to Israel or commitment to Jordan,
things like that.
What we have proposed is that we need a tool, a tool by
which the United States Government can respond to the
challenges that the Arab Spring poses for us. We need to
minimize the risk and maximize the opportunities and we need a
tool to do that. And that is why we have asked for the types of
authorities and the levels in the Middle East and North African
Mr. Chabot. Thank you, the gentleman's time has expired.
The chair will recognize himself for 1 minute to make maybe a
point of personal privilege for those of our colleagues who
probably fall under the category that the gentleman was
referring to about not----
Mr. Ackerman. It is on both sides of the aisle, Mr.
Mr. Chabot. Right.
Mr. Ackerman. It is not a partisan----
Mr. Chabot. I understand that. I understand that. That is
why I haven't said Republicans or Democrats or which side of
Mr. Ackerman. It is not partisan or sometimes----
Mr. Chabot. Right. And that is why I said our colleagues,
because that you have referred to, and I think they reject the
mindset that no matter what our so-called allies around the
world do, like Egypt, that there is basically an entitlement to
U.S. aid in the form of dollars. And it is not necessarily
involvement, because you had talked about more involvement in
those regions and that generally means aid. And so we are
talking about scarce dollars and we have a $16 trillion debt.
So in the case of Egypt, for example, which is getting a
substantial amount of money in which Congress puts in, and
notwithstanding, that you are not getting these dollars unless
you do this, and then they don't do this, and then the
administration, we let them make the decision, well, the money
is going anyway, and that is what happened in this case.
But anyway, I think a lot of our colleagues reject this
entitlement mentality that some other countries around the
world have that they are going to get those dollars no matter
what they do really, within reason. I mean if they attacked us
or something, clearly we are not going to give them money, but
they do with our NGO folks what they did, which was a huge slap
in the face to the United States.
We had our Department of Transportation head, who is a
Republican but was picked by the Obama administration to run
that department, and it was his son who we happened to meet
with in Egypt about 1 year ago with a bunch of NGO folks, and
this guy is basically under house arrest over there and allowed
to leave the country, so as some Americans were, but there are
Egyptians and other folks who are our friends who are still
under great personal threat. And yet the Egyptian Government
seems to be under the impression that they can do all these
things and continue to get significant amounts of American aid.
And a lot of that goes back to their peace agreement which they
went out on a limb with, with Israel, and so we support Israel
and we support Egypt too, and we have continued to do that.
So in any event, in defense of our colleagues who reject
that mindset that we are going to continue to push tax dollars,
in the form of, for lack of a better term, foreign aid,
virtually no matter what they do and no matter how much they
reject our positions and our policies.
So I will yield to the gentleman.
Mr. Ackerman. Thank you. That was very helpful, I think.
But let me add to that that we can't bite our nose to spite our
face as they say. Some years ago, I don't remember what the
year was but there this was this Soviet guy at the time named
Pavlov. And he was able to train even mice that they get the
reward if they have certain behavior. They ring a bunch of
bells around here, we show up at the other side of the maze and
cast votes, at least 90 percent of the time we get to come back
here. You can train anybody to do anything. The reason, boldly,
if I could suggest that we started to give large sums of
assistance to both Egypt and Jordan was because they both
signed peace treaties with the Israelis. We rewarded good
behavior. They got the cheese at the end of that.
I think we have to be mindful of that as well, and to try
to describe to some of our friends in the region what we are
looking for, what our expectations are. We don't necessarily
know, we know we are not going to get them overnight especially
when there is a new political player in town, in each of their
towns, that is going to pander to the populist notions at the
moment in order to solidify their power bases and to stay in
power, but they have to understand as they develop that this is
real life. And we can be helpful or we can be absent, but we
have to understand when we are absent we pay consequences as
well, and we have to sit down collectively with our guys on the
left and on the right in each of our parties and find out what
our expectations are in each place in the world and with each
government because they are all different. The Brotherhood
movement is different in different countries. And figure out as
it is how much we want to invest, how much time we want to give
it and to be flexible enough as things to develop that we could
Mr. Connolly. All right, I am going to get in here, Mr.
Mr. Chabot. All right. Are you finished, Mr. Ackerman?
Mr. Ackerman. I am anxious. The gentleman from the
Mr. Chabot. Okay. I am going to reclaim my time. And it
just goes to show you never know what we are going to discuss
in this committee, things from Pavlov's dog to Pavlov's mice.
Mr. Ackerman. We don't always get to talk to each other.
Mr. Chabot. I didn't remember the mice part. I remembered
the dog part, and I thought it was ringing a bell and feeding
him something, then he would salivate even at the ringing of
the bell, but maybe there were mice involved too. It has been a
long time since I took high school science.
But I will yield back my time, and the gentleman from
Virginia is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. Connolly. I thank the chair. And if could just add to
the conversation, and I think Mr. Ackerman is right. We don't
often get to do this. And we have had this debate at this
committee and full committee last summer in our markup, and I
think it is a fair point to raise the question of, hey, aid
isn't an entitlement. There has to be accountability. There
have to be metrics, otherwise it is not worth doing.
But neither can we afford as a great power, however, to act
as children. Aid is not a crude cudgel that demands slavish
devotion to a U.S. agenda at the U.N. or anywhere else, or
else. Aid is a tool. It is an investment. It has a return on
it. It doesn't always work, but if you look at things like the
Camp David Accords, whatever aid we have poured into that
region, not all of it efficient, not all of it yielding the
results that are desirable, but the bottom line result is most
desirable. It is the longest period of time since the creation
of the State of Israel in which its neighbors did not go to war
with it. Worth the price.
Peacekeeping operations, we don't always like U.N. around
here. Cheap at the price in terms of leveraging other nations
to help U.S. diplomacy, as well as we hope international
diplomacy, to keep the peace in troubled places without having
to have a whole bunch of U.S. troops all over the place. And
Iraq and Afghanistan are current reminders of what happens when
that diplomacy and those investments fail, or because we got
dissatisfied or impatient or juvenile about it and chose to
withdraw from the field.
And so I think the chairman raises absolutely legitimate
concerns. We cannot take the entitlement mentality to the issue
of deploying U.S., scarce, limited, precious U.S. assets
anywhere in the world. But on the other hand, we have to have a
more visionary broader understanding that this is a tool that
serves us. We need to make sure it is effective. But sometimes
in our political rhetoric, and I certainly do not mean to
suggest the chairman--there is one of our colleagues running
for President who has actually said let us defend all foreign
aid. Why give it away? My god, we have needs here. It is not an
either/or proposition for a great country. These are not
choices that we have to make in terms of either/or, these are
choices that both need to be made.
And so I just say that as a word of caution because I
happen to believe in the efficacy of foreign aid. I know how
easy it is, and again I do not mean the chairman, for some to
demagogue the issue because it is not popular foreign aid. But
if you actually look at its track record, warts and all, it has
been a strong investment tool for the United States that has
had, in many cases, profound payoff.
Let me ask two questions before my time runs out, real
quickly. I also went to Libya with our colleague, David Dreier,
in the House Democracy Partnership, and we were there one day.
We met with the USAID mission director, Ms. Rudman, and doing a
great job, and we were encouraged, I think, actually by the
ferment in what we were seeing. The difference, I guess, I
would characterize, and I wonder what you and Mr. Feltman might
think, and certainly yourself, Mr. Ward, Libya isn't set yet.
It is in ferment, not clear where it is going to go. There were
hopeful signs. There was lots of excitement and enthusiasm
still. And we are trying to be a worthwhile partner with those
who would like to put it on a civil society, inclusive,
participatory kind of democracy over time that respects
minority rights, et cetera. Egypt, I fear, is more set.
Political ferment in some ways has settled and it is quite
clear what has emerged from that and the issue there is, are
they the real thing or are they going to revert to previous
form? And if so, we have real problems in the largest Arab
country in the world.
I just wonder--I invite you, if the chairman will indulge
it, because I took an extra minute just to share my views, if
the chairman will allow our witnesses simply to answer that
question, and I will then retire from the field.
Mr. Chabot. Take a minute or so to complete, and the
committee will be wrapping up then, whoever is most appropriate
to answer the question. Mr. Ward?
Mr. Ward. Well, I appreciate the reference, Congressman, to
Libya. I spent about 4 or 5 months in Libya with the United
Nations between September and February. And I will tell you
that one of the most exciting things for the United States
Embassy, every other international Embassy in town and the
United Nations, was the excitement in civil society that you
I remember a day sitting with the Deputy Prime Minister in
his office where there was a protest raging out on the street.
And it was so loud we couldn't really have our conversation and
I expressed some frustration. And he sat back in his chair with
a big smile and he said, isn't this great? This is the way it
is supposed to be. Let them carry on. We can go meet down the
And their willingness to invite civil society, which has
such a voice in ensuring that these transitions continue to go
in the right direction, to participate in their deliberations,
to participate as our Government does in creating laws, in
providing comment, is very encouraging. And we are seeing the
same hopeful signs next door in Tunisia. But you are right.
This is something that we are going to have to keep an eye on
going forward with the new Egyptian Government.
Mr. Feltman. You mentioned Egypt, Congressman Connolly, and
I agree. We have a new Egypt emerging and it is an Egypt that
we don't know, or at least we don't know completely. We may
never know completely. But it is in our interest to try to see
if we can build new partnerships with the emerging Egypt as
well as to maintain our existing partnerships with Egypt,
business with Egyptian educational institutions, with the
Egyptian military. Because you look at a map, Egypt is going to
remain Israel's neighbor. Egypt is going to remain the neighbor
to Sudan on one side and Libya the other. We have interests
that transcend Egypt, but that need Egypt to be part of the
solution. So we are committed to using all of the diplomatic
tools we have to cultivate new partnerships and protect our old
partnerships in Egypt.
Mr. Chabot. The gentleman's time has expired.
We want to thank the panel for their testimony here this
afternoon. I think it has been very helpful. Members will have
5 days to supplement their statements or to ask questions. If
there is no further business to come before the committee we
are adjourned. Thank you very much.
[Whereupon, at 4:10 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
Material Submitted for the Hearing RecordNotice deg.