Category Archives: Foreign Aid

Israel Requesting Over $5 Billion in US Military Aid

IMEMC News reports:

The Israeli government has made an initial request for its annual U.S. defense package to increase by as much as $5 billion when its current aid package, worth an average $3 billion a year, expires in 2017, U.S. congressional sources said, this last Wednesday.

PNN reports that, according to Reuters, Israel wants $5 billion per year in military aid for 10 years, for a total of $50 billion. The US congress spokesman stated that Israel has been signalling that it wants more money to “counter threats it says will arise as a result of the international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, which Israel’s government has staunchly opposed”.


Britain spent five times more on Angelina Jolie summit than tackling rape in war zones

Ben Riley-Smith reported for The Telegraph last month:

William Hague, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt..Britain spent five times more money on a high-profile summit to end sexual violence featuring Angelina Jolie than tackling rape in war zones, it has emerged.

The three-day event last year, which was headed up by then-foreign secretary William Hague and the Holywood star, cost the taxpayer £5.2 million.

Among the costs were £299,000 on food alone and £576,000 on taxis, hotels and transport, according to figures obtained by the Observer.

But the Foreign Office told the paper just £1 million had been put into a fund to tackle the use of sexual violence across the world.’


US Cheers “Reforms,” Resumes Bahrain Military Aid

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

Praising the island dictatorship for its “reforms,” the State Department today announced that the US is ending all restrictions on military aid to Bahrain, though they declined to say exactly how much new military aid would be involved in this.

The US made some restrictions on its provision of military aid to Bahrain back in 2011, when the country violently cracked down on pro-democracy protesters. The US has made some sales of weapons to the Bahraini government since then, but insisted that the arms were not of the sort that could be used to suppress dissent.

Rights groups are harshly critical of the US decision, saying the Bahraini “reforms” amount to virtually nothing, and that Bahraini prisons are still filled to near bursting with Shi’ite political prisoners involved in the demonstrations calling for more representation in parliament.

Though official stats are not kept, Shi’ites are believed to be a substantial majority in Bahrain. The royal family is Sunni, however, and has historically kept Shi’ites out of positions of import. The government has accused Bahraini Shi’ite politicians of being pro-Iran, and has accused the protesters of being a “Iranian terror plot” against the royal family’s continued rule.’


US counts on arming, training foreign forces despite years of failure

David J. Lynch reports for Bloomberg:

The U.S. is trying to stabilize Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria using a tactic that’s rarely worked: training and equipping foreign forces.

The effort to defeat terrorists and insurgencies without using American troops is failing in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia and other Sunni nations have now intervened. It still faces long odds and long wars in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

For now, President Barack Obama is doubling down on getting other nations to fight by boosting arms sales to the Gulf states, resuming military aid to Egypt and supporting the Saudi-led offensive in Yemen.’


Obama Personally Tells the Egyptian Dictator that U.S. Will Again Send Weapons (and Cash) to his Regime

Glenn Greenwald reports for The Intercept:

Featured photo - Obama Personally Tells the Egyptian Dictator that U.S. Will Again Send Weapons (and Cash) to his RegimeYesterday, the Egyptian regime announced it was prosecuting witnesses who say they saw a police officer murder an unarmed poet and activist during a demonstration, the latest in a long line of brutal human rights abuses that includes imprisoning journalists, prosecuting LGBT citizens, and mass executions of protesters. Last June, Human Rights Watch said that Egyptian “security forces have carried out mass arrests and torture that harken back to the darkest days of former President Hosni Mubarak’s rule.”

Today, the White House announced that during a telephone call with Egyptian despot Abdelfattah al-Sisi, President Obama personally lifted the freeze on transferring weapons to the regime, and also affirmed that the $1.3 billion in military aid will continue unimpeded. Announced the White House.’


In Bungled Covert Operation, USAID Contractor Recruited Hip-Hop Artists to Help Topple Cuban Government

Kevin Gosztola reports for The Dissenter:

‘From the United States government contractor, which brought you “Cuban Twitter” and a band of untrained young Latin Americans sent to infiltrate Cuban society through the organization of an HIV workshop, comes another bungled covert operation against Raul Castro’s government: an operation to recruit notorious Cuban rappers and co-opt the country’s hip-hop music scene in order to spark an uprising.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) contracted Creative Associates International, which conducted all three of these blundering operations simultaneously as part of a “four-year contract” with USAID. The contract reportedly ended in 2012.

All three of the operations have been revealed in reports published by the Associated Press this year. Each time the AP has revealed the existence of these contracted projects, USAID has maintained they are not engaged in covert operations.’


Netanyahu eyes big increase in Israel’s defense spending

Xinhua reports:

‘Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said he supports largely increasing defense spending in the upcoming 2015 budget in opposition to the stance of the finance minister, which may lead to the collapse of his political coalition.

“The billions we’ve invested in Israel’s defense in recent years saved the Israeli economy … Due to the threats in our area we need a substantial increment of billions in the defense budget, and we must do so in a responsible way without a great deficit,” Netanyahu said at the fourth international cyber convention held at the Tel Aviv University.’


Decades of corruption led Liberians to think Ebola was a government scam to attract Western aid

Sara Jerving reports for The Nation:

‘The distrust in the government is deeply rooted in anger at years of corruption and a lack of accountability within the administration of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, said Rodney Sieh, editor-in-chief of FrontPage Africa, a Liberian daily newspaper. Sirleaf, who became president in 2006, after the end of Liberia’s brutal civil war, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for her role in the “non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.”

 But the ghosts of the nation’s past soon began to haunt her administration. In 2009, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia recommended Sirleaf be forbidden from holding public office for thirty years because she previously backed Charles Taylor, the guerilla leader responsible for many of the atrocities committed during the war. Sirleaf remained in power. Her fellow Nobel laureate, Leymah Gbowee, resigned from her role in the commission and publicly distanced herself from the president in 2012.’


One Year After Egypt’s Rab’a Massacre, US Still Funding Repression

Medea Benjamin writes for CounterPunch:

‘It has been one year since the August 14, 2013 Rab’a Square massacre in Egypt, when the Egyptian police and army opened fire on demonstrators opposed to the military’s July 3 ouster of President Mohamed Morsi. Using tanks, bulldozers, ground forces, helicopters and snipers, police and army personnel mercilessly attacked the makeshift protest encampment, where demonstrators, including women and children, had been camped out for over 45 days. The result was the worst mass killing in Egypt’s modern history. The government’s systematic effort to obscure what took place, beginning with sealing off the square the next day, has made it difficult to come up with an accurate death toll. But a just-released Human Rights Watch report, based on a meticulous year-long investigation, found that at least 817 and likely well over 1,000 people were killed in Rab’a Square on August 14.

[…] Since the massacre, Sisi has overseen a year of intense government repression that has included the arrests of tens of thousands of people, including Islamists and leftist political activists. More than 65 journalists have been detained and some, like three Al Jazeera journalists, have been sentenced to 7-10 years in prison. Egypt’s criminal justice system has become a cruel joke; sentencing 1,247 people to death in trials makes a mockery of the word “justice”. In many cases defendants were not brought to their trials and lawyers have repeatedly been barred from presenting their defense or questioning witnesses. Amnesty International has documented the sharp deterioration in human rights in Egypt in the past year, including the surge in arbitrary arrests, torture and deaths in police custody. Amnesty says torture is routinely carried out by the military and police, with members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood particularly targeted. Among the methods of torture employed are electric shocks, rape, handcuffing detainees and suspending them from open doors.’


The U.S. Government Still Tries to Subvert Cuba

Sheldom Richman writes for The Future Freedom Foundation:

‘When I saw the headline about the U.S. government and Cuba in my newspaper the other day, I thought I’d awoken in 1961. It was a Twilight Zone moment for sure: “U.S. program aimed to stir dissent in Cuba.” I expected Rod Serling to welcome me to “another dimension.” But it was 2014. The AP news report said President Barack Obama and presumably then–secretary of state Hillary Clinton had plotted to incite a popular uprising — to “gin up opposition” — against the Cuban government by sending in young Latin Americans masquerading as tourists and health workers.

Did Obama, Clinton, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which oversaw the operation, learn nothing from the 1960s, when the Kennedy and Johnson administrations tried repeatedly to overthrow Cuban ruler Fidel Castro and even to assassinate him? The AP investigation disclosed that the USAID agents had “little training in the dangers of clandestine operations — or how to evade one of the world’s most sophisticated counter-intelligence services.” Nevertheless, the AP continued, “their assignment was to recruit young Cubans to anti-government activism, which they did under the guise of civic programs, including an HIV prevention workshop.” The program, which lasted at least two years, began shortly after Obama’s inauguration.’


USAID exploited fake HIV workshop to incite rebellion in Cuba

‘The US Agency for International Development is under fire after an Associated Press report released Monday revealed the agency used young Latin Americans to infiltrate Cuban society and potentially stir dissent under the guise of a fake HIV-prevention organization. Created to serve as a cover for the would-be CIA agents’ espionage activities, the HIV workshop enabled among other activities the creation of a database of Cubans likely to cause trouble for the Castro regime.’ (RT America)

Rethinking the role of global investment in Africa’s development

Yash Tandon writes for Pambazuka News:

Africa-FDI-Western-Investment‘Much hope is placed on foreign direct investment to deliver development capital for African countries. Yet FDIs are part of the global financial capitalist system, which maintains and reproduces inequality and keeps African states dependent on Western countries and financial institutions.

Africa’s political leaders are under illusion to believe that foreign direct investments (FDIs) will get them out of their development crisis. This is not to dismiss FDIs but to provide a framework for an analytical and critical understanding of ‘capital’, how it is generated, and what its real function is.’


Israel’s military by the numbers

Aid to Africa: Donations from west mask ‘$60bn looting’ of continent

Mark Anderson writes for the Guardian:

MDG : Parched soil in the Greater Upper Nile region of north-eastern South Sudan

‘Western countries are using aid to Africa as a smokescreen to hide the “sustained looting” of the continent as it loses nearly $60bn a year through tax evasionclimate change mitigation, and the flight of profits earned by foreign multinational companies, a group of NGOs has claimed.

Although sub-Saharan Africa receives $134bn each year in loans, foreign investment and development aid, research released on Tuesday by a group of UK and Africa-based NGOs suggests that $192bn leaves the region, leaving a $58bn shortfall. The report says that while western countries send about $30bn in development aid to Africa every year, more than six times that amount leaves the continent, “mainly to the same countries providing that aid”.’


US Taxes Pay for Israeli War Crimes

Ida Audeh writes for Antiwar:

With numbing regularity, Israel bombs the Gaza Strip, home to 1.8 million Palestinians, from the air, land, and sea, and the excuse is always the same: Hamas “terrorists” don’t accept Israel’s “right to exist.” The specific trigger this time: the abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers.

Hamas has publicly stated that it was not responsible for the deaths, and the claim is credible. Increasingly isolated, it had just concluded reconciliation talks with Fatah, a popular move with the Palestinian public, which it was not likely to jeopardize.

Bombing Gaza is convenient for Israel for many reasons: It ends further progress on Palestinian unity talks. It ends focus on the failure of the Kerry peace talks during which Israel continued to announce illegal settlement construction. It reminds all Palestinians that they will suffer a similar fate if they have the temerity to defy Israel. And it unites Israelis like nothing else.’


Senate panel votes to double U.S. funding for Israel’s Iron Dome system

Donna Cassata reports for the Associated Press:

‘Congress is showing tangible support for longtime ally Israel as Gaza militants fire rockets, backing a measure that would double the amount of money for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system.

The Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee approved a defense spending bill on Tuesday that would provide $621.6 million for Israeli missile defense, including $351 million for the Iron Dome system that intercepts short-range rockets and mortars. In the latest hostilities between Israel and Hamas, Iron Dome has been successful in shooting down rockets and preventing Israeli deaths.

“It works,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., chairman of the subcommittee.’


Kerry Assures Egypt Junta of More Military Aid

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar:

Visiting Egypt’s military junta, Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly expressed “strong support” for freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, while assuring the junta, which has been massacring people who participate in peaceful protests, that they’ve got even stronger support still.  Kerry assured President Sisi of billions of dollars in continued US military aid, and in particular promised that ordered helicopter gunships would be sent to Egypt’s junta “very, very soon.”

Sisi, for his part, promised to continue to move against “terrorism,” which pleased Kerry. Since the junta has designated most public protesters as terrorists, however, it suggests the policy of crackdowns will continue. The former defense minister, Sisi orchestrated a military coup last summer against the elected government, and has since been elected president, albeit in a vote in which all significant opposition parties were banned from participating, and indeed, during which many opposition figures were imprisoned pending execution for “terrorism” related charges.’


U.S. cuts aid to Uganda over country’s anti-gay law

From Reuters:

Yoweri Museveni‘The United States on Thursday cut aid to Uganda, imposed visa restrictions and canceled a regional military exercise in response to a Ugandan law that imposes harsh penalties on homosexuality. The White House said in a statement the measures were intended to “reinforce our support for human rights of all Ugandans regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Homosexuality is taboo in most African countries and illegal in 37, including in Uganda where it has been a crime since British rule. Uganda’s new law, signed by President Yoweri Museveni in February, imposes jail terms of up to life for “aggravated homosexuality” which includes homosexual sex with a minor or while HIV-positive.’


Iraq Reveals Openness To Allow US Airstrikes Against Militants

Jeff Perlah reports for the International Business Times:

Territory: The above map shows the areas of Iraq and Syria currently controlled by Isis forces‘Iraq has privately revealed to the Obama administration that it would allow the United States to carry out airstrikes with drones or manned aircraft against al Qaeda targets on Iraqi territory, senior U.S. officials said Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported.

According to a senior U.S. official, the Obama administration is considering various options, including possibly providing “kinetic support” for the Iraqi military fighting al Qaeda militants who seized two major cities north of Baghdad this week. The official added that no decisions have been made, the Journal said.

Officials declined to say whether the United States would perhaps use airstrikes with drones or manned aircraft. Iraq has long asked the U.S. to arm it with drones that could be used for attacks, yet Washington has balked at supplying them, officials said, according to the Journal.’


US Offers Aid to El Salvador, Pressures Them to Buy Monsanto Seeds

Paul Brown reports for Opposing Views:

The United States government is currently holding $277 million in aid over the heads of the leaders of El Salvador. The money, which was promised to the head of state of El Salvador, may not actually be given to the country after all.

Reports from El Salvador are painting a rather clear picture of the situation. It seems that the United States government is pressuring the leaders of El Salvador to purchase enormous quantities of Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds (GMO’s).

The newly written Millennium Challenge Compact, which would grant the $277 million in aid to El Salvador, includes a stipulation that El Salvador begin to use GMO’s. This is a highly controversial requirement, and many environmentalists are up in arms over the stipulation.’


US backing of el-Sissi reminiscent of Mubarak era

Spencer Kimball writes for DW:

Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and US Secretary of State John Kerry‘More than three years ago, US President Barack Obama withdrew Washington’s long-standing support for Hosni Mubarak, accelerating the former air force marshal’s overthrow by mass demonstrations. Today, the White House is cooperating with Egypt’s latest military-commander-turned-president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, in what some analysts say is a return to the old status quo of US support for military rule.

“The United States looks forward to working with [Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi], the winner of Egypt’s presidential election, to advance our strategic partnership and the many interests shared by the United States and Egypt,” the White House said in a news release. The Obama administration also expressed concern about the restrictive political environment in which the elections took place, calling on el-Sissi to adopt political reforms that would fulfill the “democratic aspirations of the Egyptian people.” But in his May 28 foreign policy speech, President Obama made clear that US-Egyptian relations are primarily rooted in national security interests, not democracy promotion.’


Beware of aid agencies bearing gifts

Linda S.Heard writes for Gulf News:

‘There is no such thing as a free lunch as states that are recipients of western aid understand only too well. The naive may believe that foreign aid is a tool to help developing countries; sceptics are convinced it’s a quid pro quo enabling wealthy powers to exercise geopolitical policy objectives. In a documentary, filmmaker John Pilger made the case that the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are “The New Rulers of the World” on behalf of their largest donor countries — the US, the UK, Germany, France and Japan. But some less powerful nations are alleging that one agency — the US Agency for International Development (USAID) — is acting as a front for the CIA.

When the Bolivian President Evo Morales expelled and shutdown USAID in his country last year for alleged attempts to undermine his leftist government, he wasn’t being paranoid after all. As a recent expose by the Associated Press shows USAID’s so-called “democracy promotion programmes” are designed to foment dissent against governments unfriendly to Washington. “In a number of countries, including Venezuela and Bolivia, USAID is acting more as an agency involved in covert action, like the CIA, than as an aid or development agency,” asserted Mark Weisbrot, an economist with a Washington-based think tank, the Centre for Economic and Policy Research.’


Hunt for Kony Exposes Aid Sham in Uganda: Interview with Jane Bussmann

Abby Martin speaks with Jane Bussman, comedian and author of the book ‘A Journey to the Dark Heart of Nameless Unspeakable Evil’ a comedic yet sensible account of her experience hunting for Ugandan warlord, Joseph Kony, also discussing the negative impact of foreign aid in Africa.’ (Breaking the Set)

From Havana to Kiev: The US State Department as a Covert Operative

Howard Friel writes for Common Dreams:

Photo: Andrew Kravchenko/AP

‘I begin with three examples of State Department covert operations. The first examples start with Cuba (for context) and end with Venezuela, the target of the first two covert operations described below. The third example begins and ends with Cuba. These examples function as case studies that can be applied paradigmatically to Ukraine around the events of February 2014, when Ukraine’s elected president was overthrown in a coup supported by the United States. I conclude with commentary about the State Department’s likely evolution into a covert operations wing of the executive branch, and why such operations are illegal and threaten to ignite war in Europe among nations with nuclear weapons.’


British aid money invested in gated communities and shopping centres

Claire Provost writes for The Guardian:

The Garden City development under construction in Nairobi, Kenya‘Millions of pounds of British aid money to tackle poverty overseas has been invested in builders of gated communities, shopping centres and luxury property in poor countries, the Guardian can reveal. CDC, the little-known investment arm of the British aid programme, has invested more than $260m (£154m) in 44 property and construction companies in Latin America, Africa and Asia. At least 20 of these are hotels, shopping centres or companies that build or manage gated communities and luxury property, according to Guardian research. CDC, formerly the Commonwealth Development Corporation, says these investments will create thousands of jobs for poor people in construction and services. But leading British NGOs questioned how supporting upmarket property could be an acceptable use of UK aid money.

…The ringfenced UK development budget has come under increased scrutiny as the government has met its target of spending 0.7% of gross national income as aid. Coalition ministers have pushed for increased private investment as a central plank of British aid policy. Nick Dearden, director of the World Development Movement, accused the government of exporting a “highly financialised, highly unequal, highly ideological form of ‘development’ which helps big business, not ordinary people”. “If you live in a slum in Nairobi, seeing development money pouring into a luxury block of flats is an insult.”‘


Sen. Patrick Leahy blocks Egyptian military aid over ‘appalling abuse of the justice system’

From Reuters:

‘U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate appropriations subcommittee that oversees foreign aid, said on Tuesday he will not approve sending funds to the Egyptian military, denouncing a “sham trial” in which a court sentenced 683 people to death. “I’m not prepared to sign off on the delivery of additional aid for the Egyptian military,” the Vermont Democrat said in a speech on the Senate floor, explaining why he would hold up the $650 million.

“I’m not prepared to do that until we see convincing evidence the government is committed to the rule of law,” Leahy said. The Obama administration said last week it would deliver 10 Apache attack helicopters and $650 million to Egypt’s military, relaxing a partial suspension of aid imposed after Egypt’s military ousted President Mohamed Mursi last year and cracked down violently on protesters.’


More than Two-Thirds of Afghanistan Reconstruction Money has Gone to One Company: DynCorp International

All Gov reports:

State Aid ChartIf not for the federal government, contractor DynCorp International wouldn’t be in business. Virtually all of its revenue (96%) comes from government contracts. That includes the vast majority of the taxpayer dollars that the State Department has awarded to companies to help rebuild Afghanistan. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) says that of the $4 billion allotted by the State Department from 2002 to 2013, 69.3% went to DynCorp. In terms of actual dollars, DynCorp took in $2.8 billion.

Giving so much to one company might not have been a good idea, given DynCorp’s record. The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) notes the contractor’s “colorful history” includes “instances of labor smuggling, weak performance and overpayments on a base support services contract, botched construction work on an Afghan Army garrison, and lawsuits filed by disgruntled subcontractors.”


In Support of Dictatorship, US to Send Egypt Military Helicopters

John Glaser writes for Antiwar:

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel meets with Egyptian general Abdel Fatah Saeed Al Sisy[…] The Post headline is actually somewhat misleading. It’s not so much that Washington is “partially resuming military aid to Egypt,” but rather that the aid was only partially halted to begin with. Last October, President Obama suspended millions of dollars from the annual U.S. aid package and halted advanced military hardware. But the Egyptian regime still received about $1.6 billion in U.S. aid. The so called “halt” was largely symbolic.

The U.S. has always opposed democracy and supported authoritarianism in Egypt, so this should come as no surprise. The internal Washington logic, however, is that while continuing to support the military junta may not be good for democracy and human rights, it will help secure U.S. interests. These interests supposedly are the following: (1) to help Cairo battle extremists in the Sinai, (2) to maintain control of the Suez Canal, which the U.S. Navy uses to send warships from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf and through which “8 percent of global seaborne trade and 4.5 percent of world oil supplies travel,” and (3) to maintain the peace treaty with Israel.


John McCain: “We ought to at least give them some weapons so they can defend themselves”

Israel Buys $2 Billion in Warplanes, Assumes US Will Pay for It

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar:

Ever confident in their ability to get the US to foot the bill for unwise purchases, Israel has announced the acquisition of $2 billion worth of the troubled V-22 Osprey planes, on a “deferred payment plan.” The reason for the deferred payment plan in this case is because Israel has no intention of paying for these planes, and is just putting them in the arms dealers’ equivalent of layaway until they can con the US into paying for it.

The planes won’t be coming out of the current promises of US aid, but rather will be covered by military aid the US hasn’t promised yet, which will be appropriated after 2018. Former Israeli Ambassador Danny Ayalon says it is “reasonable” for Israel to assume that the US will eventually cough up a couple billion dollars for the Ospreys, citing overwhelming support in the US Congress for all things Israel.