White House requests 2004 aid for ME countries

04 February 2003
US allies in the Middle East will receive a significant proportion of the total aid budget for 2004, according to President Bush's budget request on 3 February. Israel will remain the world's largest beneficiary, receiving a total of $2,640 million - $2,160 million in military assistance and the rest in economic support. This package excludes additional funds requested by the Israelis to help them cope with economic recession brought on by the escalation of conflict with the Palestinians. A supplemental request to Congress for these extra funds could be made later in 2003.

Egypt is the recipient of the second largest grant of $1,875 million - $1,300 million in military aid and $575 million in economic help, down from the $615 million to be given in 2003. Jordan's 2004 allowance rises to $459 million, with economic assistance remaining static and military aid rising to 206 million from $198 million. The kingdom is fearful of the effects on it of a US attack on Iraq, and has requested patriot air defence missile batteries from Washington (MEED 28:1:03). However, Amman will be discreetly co-operative if war does break out, refusing the use of its soil for invasion but allowing search and rescue missions to be launched from the kingdom (MEED 31:1:03). Turkey, another crucial ally anxious about the effects of war, receives an increased aid budget of $200 million in military aid and $50 million in economic support. The White House is also discussing a much larger aid package to compensate Ankara for the economic damage it would suffer if military action goes ahead and to encourage Turkish support against Saddam Hussein. Washington would like to use Turkish bases to invade Iraq from the north but the population is largely opposed to war.

Other Middle Eastern countries are allocated smaller portions of the aid budget. Lebanon will receive $32 million, Yemen $30 million, Oman and Bahrain $25 million, Morocco $25 million and Tunisia $10 million. Iraqi opposition groups, which were granted $23 million in the 2003 budget, receive nothing.

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