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

CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875, March 18, 2003

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Poverty & Terrorism: MEPI as a Solution
Rep. Ros-Lehtinen Schedules Wednesday Oversight Hearing

BACKGROUND -- According to the United Nations’ Arab Human Development Report 2002, 14 million Arab adults lack the job skills to provide enough income for even the most basic of necessities. At the same time, Arab countries are experiencing steep increases in their populations, leading to as many as 50 million more workers crowding job markets in the next decade. In terms of economic growth and trade, all of the Arab countries combined only generate 1 percent of the world’s non-oil exports. These factors, along with the absence of accountable political and social institutions, contribute to continuing instability in the Middle East. In December 2002, the Bush Administration unveiled its Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), a foreign assistance program aimed at developing the Arab world and focusing on economic, political and educational sectors. These initiatives seek to reform financial sectors, strengthen commercial legal systems, increase transparency, open markets across the region, reform antiquated judicial systems, debt reform, microenterprise lending, and literacy programs; provide parliamentary training; create child-centered schools; and improve linkages between universities in the U.S. and the Middle East.

WHAT: Oversight hearing: "The Middle East Partnership Initiative: Promoting Democratization in a Troubled Region"

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

WHEN: 10 a.m., Wednesday, March 19, 2003

WHERE: 2172 Rayburn House Office Building

WITNESSES: William Burns, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, U.S. Department of State; Wendy Chamberlin (Invited), Assistant Administrator for Asia and the Near East, U.S. Agency for International Development.

Questions to be raised during this hearing:

bulletDescribe the nexus between U.S. terrorism policy and the MEPI approach to the countries in the region?
bulletWhat is the role for an resurgent private sector community in implementing long-term economic and political reforms in the Arab World?
bulletHow will MEPI function differently from a myriad of programs previously managed by the U.S. Agency for International Development?
bulletHow will MEPI address the anger manifested against the United States in the Arab world?