Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Henry J. Hyde, Chairman

CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875, March 16, 2005

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9/11 Implementation Act Oversight, Part I:
Oppressors vs. Reformers in Middle East

 Ros-Lehtinen Schedules Wednesday Oversight Hearing

BACKGROUND:  Included in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Act of 2004, enacted in December, were a number of democracy-building and public diplomacy provisions focusing on predominately Muslim populations. In addition to beefing up U.S.-Muslim exchange programs including creation of an International Youth Opportunity Fund, the legislation also focused new attention on “rule of law” programs funded by the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), a bilateral program conceived to promote democracy, education reform, and trade. The law also made a number of reforms in how the U.S. Department of State recruits and promotes officers in its public diplomacy programs including new emphasis on hiring individuals with foreign language skills. Most observers agree that political reform in the Middle East and Central Asia cannot occur without simultaneous progress in addressing systemic decades-old economic stagnation in the region. Since its inception in 2002, MEPI has funded voter registration programs in Yemen, judicial reform seminars in Oman and Bahrain, and training for female members of parliament in Morocco, among others. In the economic sphere, MEPI has funded a wide range of programs including: commercial law initiatives, debt reform, and the development of information technology infrastructure in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. Launched by G-8 countries in June, 2004, the Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiative (BMENA) is a multilateral development and reform plan aimed at fostering economic and political liberalization in a wide geographic area of Arab and non-Arab Muslim countries.  Despite progress, such efforts have been frustrated by an anti-democratic and virulent anti-American sentiment among targeted populations suspicious of foreign assistance programs.  

WHAT:                             Subcommittee Oversight Hearing:
                                          9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act Oversight, Part I:

                                          Oppressors vs. Reformers in the Middle East and Central Asia

                                          Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia
                                          U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chair

WHEN:                             3:00 p.m., Wednesday, May 4, 2005

WHERE:                           Room 2172 Rayburn House Office Building

WITNESSES:                   Micael G. Kozak, Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State;
                                          Elizabeth Cheney
, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, U.S. Department of State;
                                          Lorne Craner
, President, The International Republican Institute;
                                          Kenneth Wollack
, President, National Democratic Institute for International Affairs; and
                                          Ron Johnson
, Senior Vice President, International Development Group, RTI International.

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