Democracy, Human Rights in the Federal Budget Request for the MENA region

Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire in Tunisia in an act of “desperation” and rebellion against the government. Five years on, the protests in Sidi Bouzid have set a precedent for democratic governance in the region. With the release of FY17 budget requests for assistance for human rights and governance to countries in the region, we analyze the US priorities in Egypt, Tunisia and Syria and break down the idea of an “overly securitized” approach in the MENA region with the FY2015 expenditure on democracy and governance programming reaching an all-time low. With pro-democracy organizations playing a limited role in a “repressive environment,” how can we leverage on the assistance to bring reform in the political scenario in the region and what does this reform look like? We also look at a 14 million USD request in the FY17 proposal for political competition and consensus building in Syria and what that implies for the region.

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