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Tuesday, February 9, 2010     FOR YOUR EYES ONLY

Obama ups military aid to Arab League states

WASHINGTON — The administration of President Barack Obama has proposed an increase in U.S. military aid for several Arab League states.   

The administration has submitted a proposed budget for fiscal 2011 that included military assistance increases for Bahrain, Libya, Morocco, Oman and Yemen. Officials said several Middle East countries also received forward funding over the last year as part of the Foreign Military Financing program.

Under the budget proposed by the State Department, U.S. military aid to Bahrain would increase from $8 million in fiscal 2009 to $19.5 million next year, Middle East Newsline reported. The U.S. Navy maintains its Fifth Fleet in Bahrain, regarded as the poorest of the six GCC states.

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Oman would also see a significant increase in 2011. Officials said U.S. military aid would rise from $7 million in 2009 to $13 million in 2011.

U.S. military aid to Yemen would increase from $12.5 million in 2010 to $35 million in 2011. Officials said Yemen would receive a range of helicopters as well as special operations forces training.

Libya would see an increase in U.S. military assistance from $150,000 to $250,000 in 2011. Officials said the rise would enable U.S. military training of Libyan forces.

Morocco would receive a nearly three-fold aid increase from 2009. The North African kingdom would receive $9 million in U.S. military assistance in fiscal 2011, up from $3.6 million in 2009.

The U.S. military aid level for Egypt would remain at $1.3 billion in 2011. Israel would receive $3 billion, up from $2.775 billion in 2010.

The State Department recommended a reduction in U.S. military aid for Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia. Jordan would receive $300 million in 2011, down from $335 million in 2009.

U.S. military aid to Lebanon in 2011 was allocated at $100 million, down from $159.7 million in 2009. Officials said the administration and Congress were concerned that U.S. weapons to Lebanon would end up with the Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah.

The biggest proportional decrease in U.S. military aid was allocated for Tunisia. The administration has asked for $4.9 million in military aid to Tunis, a drop of more than $10 million since 2010.

The State Department said the United States forwarded hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid over the last year. Officials said Israel received advanced funding of $555 million for fiscal 2010; Egypt, $260 million, and Jordan, $150 million.

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