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U.S. Assistance to Egypt, Tunisia and Libya

The United States has maintained its $1.3 billion military aid package, based on the 1978 Camp David Accords. The Obama administration has also tried to promote private investment by U.S. multinational corporations. More than 100 American executives from dozens of top U.S. companies visited Egypt in September 2012. But Washington has also tried to come up with new resources through international institutions and agreements, such as the Deauville Partnership.

Since the Arab uprisings, the U.S. has grappled with how to adapt economic assistance to evolving political situations and little-known political players. The State Department’s Office of the Special Coordinator for Middle East Transitions is coordinating multiple U.S. agencies to support Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. The following is a rundown of U.S. aid to countries in transition.

Egypt (as of May 2012)

The United States has maintained its $1.3 billion military aid package, based on the 1978 Camp David Accords. The Obama administration has also tried to promote private investment by U.S. multinational corporations. More than 100 American executives from dozens of top U.S. companies visited Egypt in September 2012. But Washington has also tried to come up with new resources through international institutions and agreements, such as the Deauville Partnership.

The U.S. Government will support Egypt and the Egyptian people with their needs for economic recovery, free and fair elections, and overall stability.  In the short-term, our assistance efforts will leverage existing funding to produce quick, concrete results and have a tangible impact in support of Egypt’s economic recovery and democratic transition.  We recognize that a prosperous and democratic Egypt, buoyed by economic growth and a strong private sector, can be an anchor of stability for the Middle East and North Africa.

Long-term Partnership with the Egyptian People:  Working together over the years, we are particularly gratified that we have been able to help Egyptians in practical ways.  We are proud of over thirty years of U.S. assistance to Egypt, in which the United States has:

  • Contributed massive resources to one of the most successful and renowned health programs worldwide, resulting in a 15-year extension of the lifespan of Egyptians, a decrease in the maternal mortality rate by over 50% and the child mortality rate by over 70%, and the eradication of polio;
  • Provided clean drinking water and sanitation to the city of Cairo and other metropolitan areas where no such service was previously available (the sewer system we constructed in Cairo constitutes the largest construction project in the world);
  • Built more than 2,000 schools and stocked 39,000 school libraries, and helped Egypt double literacy levels;
  • Sent thousands of Egyptians to the United States for advanced university studies;
  • Invested $1.8 billion in power sector projects accounting for roughly one-third of total present capacity; and
  • Invested billions in technical and financial assistance to modernize Egypt’s economy to create new jobs in fields like high-technology and manufacturing.  This has directly contributed to Egypt’s status as a top ten country in the World Bank Doing Business report four out of the last five years.

Renewed Bilateral and Multilateral Support:  The United States requested $250 million in economic support funds and $1.3 billion in foreign military financing from Congress in FY 2012, in support of a revitalized partnership with Egypt and Egyptians.

The United States also provides critical support to Egypt, together with our international partners, through our leadership at international financial institutions, such as the World Bank, African Development Bank, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, where we have repeatedly used our leadership and contributions to mobilize billions of dollars in ongoing support for Egypt.

Immediate Economic and Political Transition:  In addition to ongoing U.S.-funded economic and political reform programs in Egypt, the United States has made available a total of $165 million for near-term assistance to support projects that generate jobs and economic growth and support Egyptian efforts to secure a democratic future. 

To address immediate economic needs arising from recent events, the United States expects to provide technical assistance, capital, and advocacy training to support small business and entrepreneurs; sustainable job creation focused on, but not limited to, the tourism/hospitality sector and infrastructure; and education, management skills, and vocational training to help get people back to work.

The United States is providing support to Egyptian and U.S. organizations working to promote respect for human rights and political freedom, building a free and fair elections process, advance media professionalism and political party development, and increase youth and women’s participation.  We will ensure that a significant portion of our assistance will directly support Egyptian civic organizations’ efforts to promote political and economic reform, expand civic awareness, and promote government transparency.

OPIC Support for Investment:  OPIC will provide up to $2 billion in financial support to encourage private sector investments in the Middle East and North Africa, building partnerships between U.S. and Arab businesses to promote growth, and regional job creation.  OPIC will prioritize small and medium-sized enterprises and is prepared to grant proposed projects “fast track” approval status (provided due diligence requirements are met) to mobilize capital quickly.

ExIm Letters of Credit:  The U.S. Export Import Bank has approved $80 million in insurance cover to support letters of credit issued by Egyptian financial institutions, showing our support for the Egyptian economic recovery.

USTDA Business Forum:  USTDA will host a June forum in Washington, D.C., bringing together a wide variety of Egyptian and U.S. public and private sector representatives to explore trade, investment and commercial opportunities.  The Forum will encourage enhanced trade and sustainable economic development in Egypt, focusing on energy, information and communication technology, transportation, and agriculture.

Tunisia (as of July 2012)

The United States has tried to help Tunisia expand economic opportunities and its private sector. American programs have supported Tunisian efforts to set up democratic institutions and an independent civil society. U.S. aid has also focused on improving the security sector and providing humanitarian assistance in remote areas.
Tunisia has inspired the world with its peaceful, steadfast march toward a more democratic, prosperous society. As Tunisia continues in this critical phase of its history, the United States remains a committed partner in working with the Tunisian government, private sector, and civil society to develop democratic institutions in supporting the growth of an independent civil society and free media, and in laying the economic foundations for Tunisia to thrive as a 21st century democracy. Since the January 2011 revolution, the U.S. has committed more than $300 million to support Tunisia’s transition, focusing heavily on technical and financial assistance to Tunisia’s economy and private sector.

Supporting Economic Growth and Opportunity
The United States is providing technical and financial assistance to support the growth of Tunisia’s economy and private sector, while ensuring that our aid is both economically and socially inclusive. U.S. programming includes elements that specifically target the interior parts of the country. U.S. assistance responds to Tunisian requests to promote fiscal stabilization; expand economic and employment opportunities throughout the country, particularly for youth; and encourage investment and growth-minded reforms.

Promoting Fiscal Stabilization

Critical Budget Support – The United States provided $100 million to pay directly debt that Tunisia owes the World Bank and African Development Bank, allowing the Government of Tunisia to instead use an equal amount for its priority programs, and to accelerate economic growth and job creation.

Sovereign Loan Guarantee – The United States will guarantee bonds that the Tunisian government will issue to raise funds to support its stabilization and economic reform plans. The United States has committed $30 million for this purpose which can support several hundred million dollars in new financing for the Tunisian government.

Expanding Economic and Employment Opportunities

Information Communications Technology (ICT) Sector Development Project – This project will position Tunisia’s ICT sector as a catalyst for private-sector growth and job creation. The program will train and support thousands of Tunisians across several skill sets using job-placement initiatives while improving the overall business environment for ICT firms, and helping the ICT sector to export more.

Return of the Peace Corps – Twenty Peace Corps volunteers will be on the ground in Tunisia in late 2012. Volunteers will provide English language training and youth skills development programs to help prepare students and professionals for future employment, build local capacity, and foster citizenship awareness.

Youth Entrepreneurship and Employability – The United States is providing assistance to more than 4,500 Tunisian youth in market-relevant skills training, job placement, and access to start-up business resources.

Women’s Entrepreneurship Program – The United States continues to work with women entrepreneurs, providing them with the resources to enable them to contribute to Tunisia’s economic development and to the direction of the country’s overall development. The U.S. is partnering with Microsoft Corporation, other technology companies, and eight local Tunisian women’s organizations to provide technological, social media, entrepreneurship and leadership training. Tunisian women entrepreneurs also have the opportunity to participate in professional mentorship and exchange opportunities at leading companies in the U.S..

Encouraging Investment and Growth-Minded Reforms

Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) Franchise Facility – A $50 million OPIC franchising facility will provide working capital to Tunisian franchisees interested in working with American, European, and Tunisian franchisors; ultimately creating an estimated 10,000 local jobs for Tunisians.

Tunisian-American Enterprise Fund – The United States will establish a Tunisian-American Enterprise Fund with an initial capitalization of $20 million. The fund will foster stronger investment ties between Tunisia and America, leverage other investors, and help Tunisians launch the small and medium enterprises that will be engines of long term growth.

Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Threshold Program – Tunisia was selected for an MCC Threshold Program in September 2011. As a first step, the United States and the Government of Tunisia are jointly identifying Tunisia’s primary constraints to economic growth. A $20 million Threshold Program will be designed based on the results of this analysis and will target policy and/or institutional reforms that the Government of Tunisia decides to implement to increase economic growth.

Regulatory Reform to Improve Access to Capital and Business Enabling Environment – The Departments of Commerce and State are supporting entrepreneurship and franchising regulatory reform, as well as reforms to the country’s commercial legal infrastructure. The U.S. Treasury is deploying a resident advisor to Tunisia to provide technical assistance to the Central Bank on financial stability issues.

Public-Private Partnerships –In addition, the U.S. is partnering with the Microsoft Corporation to provide business and software skills training to 20 new Tunisian startup companies in 2012 and 2013. At the conclusion of this training, Microsoft will match these startups with local and international venture capitalists. The U.S. has also partnered with the Coca-Cola Corporation to send 100 university students from the throughout the MENA region, including ten Tunisian students, to a summer entrepreneurship program at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business in 2012. 

Democracy, Governance, and Civil Society

The success of Tunisia’s transition to a healthy democracy depends on its ability to develop mechanisms for government transparency, accountability, and the existence of thriving civil society and media sectors. In support of the Tunisian people’s aspirations for democracy, prosperity, and long-term political stability, U.S. assistance bolsters efforts to develop institutions of democracy and governance; enhance the capacities of civil society; promote transitional justice and the rule of law; and build capacity in the education, culture and media sectors.

Strengthening Political Participation The United States is working to build on Tunisian-led efforts to increase citizen engagement in democratic life and support political participation. In the fall of 2011, the U.S. provided assistance to organizations in Tunisia that were organizing and administering what were widely hailed as free and fair multiparty elections for a Constituent Assembly, which is drafting a new constitution this year. Following the elections, the U.S. is continuing its support by linking newly elected representatives and their constituents to help encourage engagement in the transition and to help build a positive, communicative relationship between government and citizens. Additionally, the United States sponsored a Constitutional Program that brought U.S. Supreme Court Justices Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg into contact with members of the Constituent Assembly, political party representatives, and legal scholars as they prepared to debate and draft the new Tunisian constitution.

Enhancing the Capacities of Civil Society – The U.S. is partnering directly with local civil society and community organizations to enhance their capacity to actively participate in the political transition and advocate for their causes. Responding to requests from Tunisian civil society organizations, the U.S. is providing assistance in the form of training, information-sharing, physical space for organizations to conduct business, and funding – in their efforts to advance women’s empowerment, freedom of expression and an independent media; promote civic awareness and peaceful expression of differences; and hold their new democratic leaders and institutions accountable.

Building Capacity in the Education and Media Sectors – Building on the success of ongoing university linkages facilitated by grants from the U.S. Embassy in Tunis, the U.S. plans to establish eight additional linkages between U.S. and Tunisian higher education institutions. Two of these linkages will focus on business and entrepreneurship skills and will include new joint dual-degree programs, while another will introduce an investigative journalism master’s degree program at the Tunisian Press Institute. When access to Tunisian higher education institutions opened up after the revolution, the Fulbright Program quickly responded and sent 11 Fulbright Specialists to build new relationships with universities for curriculum development and other activites. The United States has also substantially increased its investment in English-language classes for youth from disadvantaged sectors by expanding its English Access Microscholarship Program to include approximately 1,000 students in eight cities across Tunisia since the program’s inception in 2004. The U.S. has also supported the development of free media by providing training to approximately 200 journalists and editors and linking Tunisian journalism students with internships at American news

Advancing of the Rule of Law – In cooperation with the Tunisian government and civil society, the U.S. will launch a program to support the development of transparent, responsive, and accountable criminal justice institutions that respect human rights, combat corruption, and promote the rule of law. 

Peace and Security

The United States stands ready to partner with the Tunisian government to address the high-priority security concerns, which can directly affect the development, stability, and sustainability of the Tunisian economy. The U.S. will assist with promoting regional stability, countering terrorism, preventing the proliferation of illicit items, building law enforcement investigative capabilities, providing military equipment, and enhancing border security efforts. In addition, active Tunisian participation in U.S. professional military education courses strengthens our countries’ military-to-military relationship.

Security Assistance – Due to a nearly fivefold increase in operational tempo since the January 11 revolution, Tunisia’s need for assistance to maintain its military equipment and to train its personnel has never been greater. U.S. assistance, in the form of Foreign Military Financing, International Military Education and Training and funding from the Counter Terrorism Program 1206, have helped to address its needs, providing wheeled vehicles, patrol boats, and educational opportunities to military personnel.

Anti-Terrorism Assistance Training Program – ATA training began in 2011 after a seven-year hiatus. In 2011-2012, nine courses were held and more are planned for next year. ATA assists in developing counterterrorism capabilities to strengthen border security to detect and intercept terrorists, and build capacity for investigating terrorist activity pre- and post-incident. ATA also provided equipment and is facilitating the purchase a mobile command post and mobile crime lab.

Enhancing Border Security Efforts – The United States will provide technical assistance, equipment, and related training for front-line Tunisian enforcement personnel at airports, sea ports, and land borders. The U.S. will also provide support in the development and strengthening of comprehensive strategic trade control systems that meets international standards. 

Humanitarian Assistance

Humanitarian Assistance programs reaffirm the commitment of the U.S. government to assist pockets of need in Tunisia. The programs bolster the ability of Tunisian civil society and other governmental organizations to provide humanitarian relief to underprivileged, disaffected, and disabled members of the population. Highlights of our assistance in this area include:

Assisting Flood Victims in Jendouba – U.S. Embassy in Tunis donated emergency humanitarian assistance to the Comité Regional de Solidarité Social in Jendouba to support their efforts to provide victims with relief supplies.

Ambulances for Hospitals in Southern TunisiaandTunisian Red Crescent – New ambulances were purchased for the Tunisian Red Crescent to assist in responding to humanitarian needs on the Tunisian-Libyan border. The U.S. also donated eleven ambulances to improve emergency medical transport conditions in the governorates of Tataouine, Medenine, Kebili, and Gabes.

Construction of an AIDS Prevention / Testing Center in Tunis – The center was completed with U.S. assistance and serves youth in Tunis in the vicinity of the university campus.

Extensions to Hospitals in Southern Tunisia – Emergency, maternity and out-patient clinics will be added to hospitals in disadvantaged populations of Remada, Dhiba, and El Faouathat that lack adequate health facilities.

Installation of Air Conditioning at the Burn and Trauma Center in Ben Arous – This center for critically injured patients will be entirely equipped with air conditioning.

Eye Care Clinic for Disadvantaged Populations in Sidi Bouzid – The clinic will provide necessary infrastructure for a Tunisian Association of Ophthalmologists to perform free eye care for the impoverished population in the remote, town of Sidi Bouzid.

Vocational Training Center for Disabled Youth in Ariana – This center will provide training and job placement for youth who, due to learning disabilities, were unable to finish secondary school. The project promotes disability rights and address problems of unemployment for marginalized young people.

Center for Muscular Dystrophy Patients in Tunis – This center will provide socio-medical support to persons suffering from muscular dystrophy and will serve as a distribution center for wheel chairs and medical equipment needed by patients in Tunisia.

Training Center for Rural Women in Makthar – A vocational training facility to train rural women in crafts and agricultural production/micro-enterprise and agribusiness management will serve those in the vicinity of the Governorate of Siliana.

Construction of a Drug Rehabilitation Center in Sfax – Funding was provided to build the first socio-medical substance abuse rehabilitation center in Tunisia. The center assists the integration of marginalized and disaffected youth into mainstream society.

Libya (as of August 2012)

U.S. assistance to Libya has been focused on security and humanitarian challenges. But the United States is also cooperating with the United Nations and other international organizations on issues ranging from constitutional development to monitoring elections. American technical assistance encourages financial transparency and expanding economic opportunities for women.

The United States has a strategic interest in a stable and prosperous Libya, and is supporting Libya’s democratic transition in cooperation with the UN and other international partners. Recognizing Libya’s own substantial resources, the United States has focused on building Libyan institutions and increasing its capacity to govern effectively, hold free and fair elections, and manage public finances transparently and responsibly. We have also provided targeted assistance to support the development of Libyan civil society and its security forces. Investing modestly in Libya’s future will help further advance Libya’s democratic transition, promote stability, and strengthen the U.S.-Libya partnership.

Since February 2011, the United States has provided $170 million in assistance, mostly in response to urgent humanitarian and security challenges in the immediate aftermath of the beginning of the conflict. We have also focused on supporting capacity building efforts within government institutions, developing civil society, and facilitating free and fair elections. All programs advance key U.S. interests by filling critical capacity gaps within U.S.-Libya identified transition priorities. All projects are being coordinated with the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).

The United States has also resumed a full range of people-to-people programming and exchanges, to include scholarships, fellowships, English-language education, educational advising, cultural preservation, and short term visits and training in the United States.

Democracy, Governance, Rule of Law, Human Rights 

Constitutional Development: The United States, in coordination with the UN, is working with civil society, government, and the media to ensure the process of constitutional development is transparent and participatory to ensure broad public support for the final document. A particular focus will be ensuring the constitution guarantees rights for minorities and women.

Election Management and Administration: The United States provided technical assistance and support for election management and administration, including developing legal electoral frameworks, creating a voter registry, and strengthening the election management body, all in close cooperation with the Government of Libya, the European Union and the UN.

Independent Media: The United States is working to strengthen local and independent media, and to provide training that improves journalistic standards and enhances the ability of Libyan media to report on the activities of government.

Elections Monitoring: The United States contributed support to an international elections observation mission to help ensure electoral transparency and credibility during Libya’s first national elections. The U.S. also provided technical assistance to a network of Libyan partners to organize nationwide domestic elections monitoring efforts.

Political Party Development and Voter Outreach: The United States is providing technical assistance to new political parties as they work to develop the platforms, messages, and core skills needed to effectively participate in public discussion and debate. The United States is also supporting civil society efforts to launch country-wide civic and voter education initiatives.

Supporting New Representative Bodies: The United States is developing programming to support representative bodies at the national and local level, including on developing outreach mechanisms for engaging the public..

Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration: The United States is assisting the Government of Libya in navigating the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of militia members. Together, the civilian and military elements of the U.S. government are working with the Government of Libya to help them formulate this critical area of programming.

Justice and Security Sector: The United States is working with Libyan authorities to develop ways to support the delivery of justice and security in a manner that promotes democratic values now and as constitutionally determined structures build themselves.

Transitional Justice: The United States is working with government, civil society, and other informal community leaders to build transparent systems for justice and reconciliation in the wake of the revolution. This includes working with the UN Commission of Inquiry's ability to catalogue its documentation of human rights abuses .

NGO Development: The United States is providing technical assistance to NGOs throughout Libya to bolster their administrative, financial, and programmatic capacities. This includes bolstering the ability of local bar associations and advocacy groups to advocate for rule of law reform during the democratic transition.

Forensics and Mass Graves: The United States is providing forensic technical assistance, including mapping human rights and international humanitarian law abuses and preserving evidence by: mapping the number and extent of mass graves; providing technical expertise on forensic-based exhumations; providing training and capacity building to civil society organizations on human rights documentation practices and the use of forensic evidence; and engaging and empowering victims’ groups and families of the missing to ensure that they are a supportive part of the transitional justice process. 

Economic Revitalization

Public Financial Management: The United States is providing targeted technical assistance to the Government of Libya to promote financial transparency and improve governance of Libya’s financial and economic resources.

Economic Growth and Trade Facilitation: The United States is providing technical advice to the Government of Libya on public infrastructure-related projects and facilitating meetings with US businesses who can source services and equipment for reconstruction.

Africa Diaspora Marketplace: The United States added Libya to the 2012 African Diaspora Marketplace (ADM) initiative. This public-private partnership encourages sustainable economic growth and employment by supporting U.S.-based diaspora entrepreneurs with startups and established businesses on the African continent.

Women’s Economic Empowerment: The United States is developing an assistance program to bolster economic empowerment opportunities for women by providing business skills training activities to women and key actors in the business community.

Security Assistance

Presidential Drawdown Authority for Non-Lethal Equipment: The United States has provided non-lethal assistance, including personnel protective gear, uniforms, and halal Meals Ready to Eat (MREs), to Government security forces through the Presidential drawdown authority.

Conventional Weapons Destruction: The United States is supporting international mine action NGOs to clear unexploded ordnance and destroy unsecured conventional weapons, including man-portable air defense systems (MANPADs).

Weapons Abatement: The U.S. committed significant assistance for conventional weapons mitigation efforts, including the survey, inventory and disposal of known weapons and ammunition storage sites in Libya.

Border Security Training: The Export Control and Border Security (EXBS) program is resuming engagement with the Government of Libya (GOL) with targeted technical assistance focused on land border security. As part of an overall U.S. Government effort, EXBS developed an approved list of immediate deliverables for near term border security assistance.

Ministry of Defense Advisory Support: The Department of Defense is providing advisory support through the Defense Institution Reform Initiative (DIRI) to the Libyan Ministry of Defense to assist in the process of establishing defense institutions and armed forces that are unified, capable, and subject to civilian control and the rule of law. This effort supports other USG and international initiatives aimed at broader security sector reform.

Chemical weapons security and destruction: The United States has provided support for improving the near-term security of Libya’s chemical weapons and is working closely with the Libyan authorities to facilitate the eventual destruction of these weapons with the oversight of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons..


Support for the War Wounded: The United States facilitated collaboration between the Government of Libya and U.S. hospitals to provide advanced medical treatment to warriors who were severely injured in combat. Currently, the U.S. is assisting the Ministries of Health and Social Affairs in improving the management and technical capacity of the Libyan health care system to care for the war wounded. This assistance includes the development of pairing relationships with U.S. based institutions.

Humanitarian Assistance

Refugee and IDP Relief: In the immediate aftermath of the revolution, the United States provided humanitarian assistance to international organizations and NGOs aiding internally displaced persons, refugees, and migrants in Libya and neighboring countries through health, humanitarian protection, logistics, water, sanitation, and hygiene activities, as well as the distribution of emergency relief supplies and food assistance.

People-to-People Exchanges

Higher Education Task Force: In May 2012, the United States and Libya launched the U.S.-Libya Higher Education Task Force to expand educational exchanges and cooperation.

Fulbright: Libyan students who were scheduled to participate in the Fulbright program prior to the revolution have had their candidacies restored. In the 2012-2013 academic year, Libya will send 14 Fulbright students to the United States—double the size of the previous cohort. Approximately 1,700 Libyans submitted applications for the 14 grants.

Educational Advising: EducationUSA is expanding its virtual and on-the-ground presence to provide educational advising to Libyan students interested in studying in the United States.

English Language: The English Access Microscholarship Program has three active programs in Libya—one in Tripoli and two in Benghazi—with a total of 80 Libyan students ages 14-18. Embassy Tripoli is currently exploring partnerships to further expand the Access Program, as well as other means of meeting the substantial nationwide demand for classes in English as a Second Language.

Cultural Preservation: The United States is providing resources toward a partnership between Oberlin College and the Libyan Department of Antiquities to document and preserve endangered archaeological sites.

International Visitor Leadership Programs (IVLP): Approximately 30 Libyan government officials, youth and civil society representatives, women leaders, and journalists will participate in three-week professional development IVLPs during the FY 2012 fiscal year.

Youth Leadership Program: Libyan high school students will join participants from Egypt and Tunisia for a three-week leadership and cross-cultural exchange in the United States in August 2012.

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