Human Development on the Arabian Peninsula

Question: Should the U.S. provide aid to a country that has a record of human rights abuses?

I.    Pose the above question as a focusing point for the session. Ask a few participants to express their views (5 min)

II.   Ambassador Hassan presents information on Saudi Arabia (45 minutes)

III.  Outline U.S. interests in the region (if not covered above) -militarily, economically (5 min)

IV.   Conduct Mock Congressional Hearing Activity (30 min)
a.    Distribute information on Congress’ attempts to block aid to Saudi Arabia
b.    Distribute information on the Biden bill
c.    In small groups have students prepare to testify before a congressional panel for the foreign affairs committee
(check which committee) (10 min)
i.    Groups to testify
– Military personnel
– Human rights groups
– Business interests
– Not for profit groups organization
– Other?
ii.    Several students play the role of committee members -each must prepare questions to ask the groups testifying
d.    Conduct a mock congressional hearing: Each group presents their views and answers questions form the panel (15 min)
e.    After the hearing members of the panel take a vote on a bill to end aid to Saudi Arabia
f.    After the vote debrief members by asking why they chose to support the bill, or what would they need to see in the bill to support it (5 min)

V.    Debrief Activity (5 min)
a.    What would students learn from an activity like this?
b.    Which skills for global citizenship would the students develop?
c.    How else could you conduct or extend this activity?

VI.    Final Questions or comments (5 min)

Legislation on Pakistan Passes Senate Foreign Relations Committee

July 29, 2008
Washington, DC – Landmark legislation on Pakistan passed by a unanimous voice vote out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today. The bill (S. 3263) authorizes tripling non-military aid to Pakistan and sustains it over at least five years. Specifically, the legislation authorizes $7.5 billion over 5 years in aid that can be used for development purposes, such as building schools, roads and clinics. The bill also imposes greater accountability on security assistance to improve Pakistani counterterrorism capabilities; ensure more effective efforts against the Taliban and Al Qaeda; and bolster the democratic process.

“This legislation represents a bold new strategy for Pakistan,”said Senator Biden. “Sen. Lugar and I wrote this bill with the hope that it will set the policy on a safer and more successful course. In order to do that, the United States must show a commitment to help improve Pakistan’s democracy as well as stand by them in the continued fight against the and Al Qaeda.”

“This legislation recognizes and seizes upon an opportunity to broaden the bilateral relationship between the United States and the citizens of Pakistan as a means of strengthening their democratic efforts and countering terrorist elements,”Senator Lugar said. “Our Defense, Intelligence, and State Department officials recognize that economic development and improved governance are at least as critical as military action in containing the terror threat. Congress should recognize this opportunity to ensure an inclusive, coherent strategy for relations.”

The legislation (S. 3263) specifically:

  1. Authorizes $7.5 billion over the next 5 fiscal years ($1.5 billion annually) in non- military aid. Advocates an additional $7.5 billion over the subsequent 5 years;
  2. Conditions military aid on certification by Secretary of State that Pakistani security forces are making concerted efforts to prevent al Qaeda and associated terrorist groups from operating in the territory of Pakistan, making concerted efforts to prevent the Taliban from using the territory of Pakistan as a sanctuary which to launch attacks within Afghanistan, and not materially interfering in the political or judicial processes of Pakistan;
  3. Urges a reorientation of engagement towards the Pakistani people rather than merely towards the Pakistani government (civilian or military);
  4. Urges accountability and transparent reporting of Coalition Support Funds; and
  5. Directs the Secretary of State (in consultation with other named officials) to develop a comprehensive strategy for the Afghan-Pakistan border area.

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Congress eliminates aid to Saudis

By Nathan Guttman
Jun 9, 2006
Washington DC – The US House of Representatives decided Friday to cut foreign aid to Saudi Arabia due to its teaching of intolerance and the lack of action by the kingdom in preventing funding of terror groups. The measure still needs to be approved by Senate, which has not yet voted on its version of the foreign aid bill.
The House voted 3 12 to 97 to leave out of the bill $420 million slated for Saudi Arabia. The money was to be used for classrooms and educational needs.

“American taxpayer dollars should not be supporting Saudi hate and terror,” said Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y). Weiner, who was behind stripping the aid. “Why should we provide aid to a country that has systematically exported terrorism?”

Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.) opposed the cut and said it would be counterproductive to the US efforts to get Saudi Arabia to play a positive role in the war against terror. “For heaven sakes, is this not something we want to do?” Kolbe said, “This is about the war on terror.”

The cut in aid to Saudi Arabia is seen mainly as a symbolic act that expresses disapproval of many in Congress over what they see as a lack of Saudi cooperation in fighting incitement and intolerance in the Muslim world.
The foreign aid bill passed by the House includes $2.46 billion in aid to Israel, which continues to be the largest recipient of US foreign aid. The package includes in military assistance and $120 million in economic aid. It also provides assistance to absorb refugees in Israel.

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No More U.S. Aid to Saudi Arabia?

By Daniel Pipes
July 15, 2004
Updated December 25, 2007

… the House of Representatives today voted 217-191 on a foreign aid bill and resolved to deny financial assistance to Saudi Arabia. The Bush Administration strongly opposed the amendment to “prohibit any U.S. assistance to Saudi Arabia,” saying it would “severely undermine” both counterterrorism cooperation with Saudi Arabia and U.S. efforts for peace in the Middle East…Next up: the Senate. For the Saudi aid not to go through, the Senate must either reject the Saudi aid provision or agree to its being dropped in conference. If history is a guide, the Senate will go along with the administration and Saudi Arabia will get the aid. But still, a vital precedent has been set and House members can stand proudly for having asserted, after fifty-nine long years, their constitutional prerogative. (July 15, 2004)
June 10, 2006 update: Two years later, same topic and roughly the same result. The House voted 3 12 to 97 to cut $420,000 in aid to Saudi Arabia, $400,000 for an terrorism program and $20,000 in military training and education, due to Saudi teaching of intolerance and the lack of counterterrorism action by the kingdom. The now goes to the Senate.

Comment: The increased margin suggests a toughening of attitudes.

June 22,2007 update: This year, the House voted again to ban any aid to Saudi Arabia. In 2005 and 2006,
US$2.5 million went to Riyadh to train Saudis in counter-terrorism and border security and to pay for Saudi military officers to attend U.S. military school. The prohibition was attached to a foreign aid funding bill and faces a veto from the White House. The Reuters article notes that “In the past three years, Congress has passed bills to stop the relatively small amount of U.S. aid to Saudi Arabia, only to see the Bush administration circumvent the prohibitions. Now, are trying to close loopholes so that no more U.S. aid can be sent to the world’s leading petroleum exporter.”

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Karzai seeks Saudi aid on peace talks Bid for intervention with Taliban fruitless

By Rahim Faiez Associated Press
October 1, 2008
Kabul, Afghanistan

Afghanistan’s president said Tuesday that he has repeatedly asked Saudi Arabia’s king to facilitate peace talks with the Taliban.

Hamid Karzai said Afghan officials have traveled to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan in hopes of ending the country’s six-year conflict but there have not been any talks.

“For the last two years, I’ve sent letters to the king of Saudi Arabia and I’ve sent messages and I requested from him as the leader of the Islamic world, for the security and prosperity of Afghanistan and for reconciliation in Afghanistan … he should help us,” Karzai said in a message to Afghans to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.

Saudi Arabia is a leader of the Sunni Muslim world and the location of Islam’s two holiest shrines in Mecca and Medina. It was one of a handful of countries that recognized the strictly Islamic as rulers of Afghanistan in the 1990s. Even after their ouster by a U.S.-led invasion in 2001, Saudi Arabia kept its doors open for Taliban members to make pilgrimages.

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U.S. Aid to Saudi Arabia: Crafting Legislation

In this assignment you will play the role of a member on the U.S. Foreign Relations Committee. Your committee is faced with the task of developing an aid policy in dealing with Saudi Arabia. In order to complete this task you will need to take several steps.

Step 1: First you must read several articles on Saudi Arabia and U.S. aid. Two of these articles deal with views on past aid given to Saudi Arabia by the U.S. government and the third looks at how some view the role of Saudi Arabia in the fight against terrorism and in bringing stability to the Islamic world. A fourth article is also included that discusses a recent U.S. aid package to Pakistan.

Step 2: In order to craft legislation members of congress must take into account many different factors. You need to reflect on your knowledge of Saudi Arabia, specifically the issues around human development, U.S. security and business interests, and arguments against providing aid to Saudi Arabia. List below what issues you think are paramount when drafting legislation for aid to Saudi Arabia.

Step 3: You must now consider a model for U.S. aid as presented in the aid package to
Pakistan. What aspects of this legislation might be applied in an aid package for Saudi Arabia? Before making a decision, you should analyze the Pakistani aid package by identifying the potential pros and cons of each of the five elements in a package to Saudi Arabia. Use the included chart to complete this task.

Step 4: Now it is time to draft your own legislation. Be sure to outline specifics and be prepared to explain your ideas. Remember, before your proposal can become law you will have to convince your other committee members, other members of Congress and the President.

Our proposed legislation for an aid package to Saudi Arabia is:


Posted on

October 13, 2015

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