On Wednesday, June 10, POMED will publish its 13th annual report on U.S. foreign assistance for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) (here is last year’s report). (Register for our virtual launch event here.)

The report covers five aspects of MENA foreign aid:

  • The Trump administration’s foreign aid budget request for Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21), which begins on October 1 of this year;
  • How congressional appropriators are likely to respond;
  • What Congress appropriated for MENA foreign aid for the current fiscal year;
  • The policy and regional context for the assistance; and
  • What the funds are for and how they are spent.

The report describes:

  • The process of executive branch budgeting and congressional appropriations;
  • Various assistance accounts managed by the State Department and USAID, including Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and Economic Support Funds (ESF);
  • Bilateral aid programs; and
  • Regional (e.g., the Middle East Partnership Initiative) and global accounts (e.g., the Human Rights and Democracy Fund) that fund programs in MENA. 

The research and analysis draws on:

  • Dozens of executive branch and congressional documents relating to foreign assistance; and
  • More than two dozen interviews with U.S. government officials, congressional staff, NGO representatives, and regional experts.

Okay, you might be thinking after reading this enticing preview, this sounds mildly interesting, but why is it relevant right now? At this moment of economic strain and political strife in the United States, against the backdrop of the pandemic, police brutality, and nationwide protests against racism and injustice, why does a report on foreign aid matter?1

Well, in POMED’s view, it has never been more important for Americans to understand how their taxpayer dollars are used at home and overseas—especially in the MENA region. This region has received more U.S. foreign aid than any other part of the world. And many billions of these aid dollars equip militaries and security forces that regularly engage in brutality against their own populations. A far, far smaller portion of U.S. aid promotes socio-economic development, human rights, and democratic values in MENA. We think Americans should be more aware of what their foreign aid dollars are funding.

We also want citizens of the MENA region to have more accurate, clear information about U.S. aid monies for their own countries. POMED’s annual report aims to be a resource for readers in the United States and in MENA. We hope to demystify the often-opaque nature of U.S. foreign assistance and to promote informed debate.

Now, on to the fun part! Yes, we thought you could use a little fun. We’ve prepared a short quiz to test your knowledge of U.S. aid for MENA.

The first person to submit the correct answers to all ten questions will receive a POMED mug (perfect for your morning coffee, tea, or mango juice). The deadline is June 10 at 11 AM EDT.

Click here to take the quiz. Good luck!


POMED recently issued a statement about what is happening in the United States, available in English and Arabic here.


Amy Hawthorne is POMED’s Deputy Director for Research. She is on Twitter as @awhawth.