Bush budgets $5.7 billion aid for frontline states in war on terror

Thursday, February 5, 2004

The administration's budget contains more than $5.7 billion in military and economic assistance to U.S. allies deemed as front-line states in the war on terror. Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Turkey were Middle East countries cited by the State Department.

But officials said Egypt and Jordan would receive the largest allotment of new security aid. They said both countries played a major role in the U.S.-led war against Al Qaida and the war to oust the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Jordan is expected to receive nearly $500 million in economic and security aid from the United States, Middle East Newsline reported.

The figure is contained in the Bush administration's budget for fiscal 2005. The spending plan contains U.S. military and security aid to allies of Washington as part of the State Department's $31.5 billion budget.

Under the budget request submitted to Congress, Jordan will receive $459 million in U.S. aid. Officials said the aid would be used to bolster Jordan's border security and improve its economy.

"Jordan continues its strong counterterrorism efforts, including arresting two individuals with links to Al Qaida who admitted responsibility for the October 2002 murder of a U.S. AID [Agency for International Development] Foreign Service officer in Amman," a State Department briefing paper said.

Under the budget request, Jordan would receive $206 million in military aid, the same level as that provided in fiscal 2004. The 2005 aid request would be used to modernize Jordan's military, increase border surveillance and counter-insurgency efforts.

Jordan will also receive an unspecified amount to sustain a U.S.-sponsored military training program. Egypt, Morocco, Oman, Tunisia and Yemen will also benefit from the $12.3 million International Military Education and Training program.

Morocco would receive $53.8 million in economic and security aid in fiscal 2005. The Bush administration also plans to provide Rabat with $20 million for Morocco's military to stop Islamic insurgency groups from operating in the northern Sahara Desert.

"A new focus for the FY 2005 budget includes funding for Morocco to assist in border control, community policing and civil order," the State Department said. "Funds will provide equipment, technical assistance and training to help Morocco's problems with illegal migration, human smuggling, narcotics production and trafficking."

Israel is meant to receive $360 million as part of the State Department's Economic Support Fund for 2005. The Palestinians will receive $75 million.

The State Department budget would also include $1.5 billion for security-related construction and major rehabilitation requirements of U.S. embassies and consulates. Another $659 million would be allocated to increase security for diplomatic personnel and facilities in the face of insurgency attacks.

The administration would also allocate $150 million to support political and education reform and economic development in the Middle East.

More than $70 million would be allocated for Arabic and Persian radio and television broadcasts to the Middle East, including launching of the Middle East Television Network.

The 2005 budget would also contain funding for nonproliferation efforts, particularly to stop weapons of mass destruction programs in the Middle East. The administration has termed the WMD programs of Iran and Syria a threat to global security.

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