Monday, April 14, 2008

Senate Hearing on Foreign Operations Appropriations

Caught up in the Petraeus-Crocker hearing, among other things last week, I missed the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations hearing on the Fiscal Year 2009 budget that was held on April 9.

The U.S. Department of State Summary and Highlights of the Fiscal Year 2009 International Affairs budget request (also known as Function 150) reveals details regarding Iran-related funding in the Economic Support Fund line item. For Fiscal Year 2009, the Statement Department is requesting $65 million in Economic Support Funds for Iran (page 79) to “support the aspirations of the Iranian people for a democratic and open society by promoting civil society, civic participation, media freedom and freedom of information.”

However, Iran did not come up at all in regards to the Economic Support Fund and the only place where Iran appears in Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s prepared testimony is in regards to Lebanon. According to Condi’s prepared testimony:

“For FY 2009, the Department of State has requested $142 million in foreign assistance for Lebanon to support two parallel objectives: countering threats to Lebanon’s sovereignty and security from armed groups backed by Syria and Iran, and helping foster good governance and a vibrant economy… Lebanon remains under siege by a Syrian and Iranian-backed opposition working to undermine the nation’s stability, sovereignty, and state institutions.”

So, if promoting democracy in Iran is such a central approach to the Bush adminitration’s policy towards Iran, why isn’t it in Condi’s testimony? Did any INW readers see anything in the Q&A session?

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