US Embassy denies secret funding for opposition
Manama, June 17, 2014
Allegations that an American-funded development programme was being used to undermine regional governments, including Bahrain, have been denied by the US Embassy in Manama.
It follows concerns that the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) was seeking to alter the political landscape of the region, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
MEPI was formed in 2002 and operates in 18 countries, but has now been accused of interfering in the internal affairs of sovereign states.
The organisation's website states that it "supports organisations and individuals in their efforts to promote political, economic and social reform in the Middle East and North Africa".
However, criticism prompted His Majesty King Hamad on Sunday (June 15) to order an inquiry into individuals and organisations in Bahrain that have received foreign financial aid.
The move was spurred by concerns that funds were being obtained illegally and used to interfere in Bahrain's domestic affairs.
However, in a statement, the US Embassy yesterday claimed MEPI's activities were legitimate.
"MEPI's activities are not covert, nor are they designed - as erroneously alleged - to 'alter the internal politics' of the countries where the programme works," it said in a statement.
It also claimed MEPI's programmes had benefited "all segments of Bahraini society".
"Senior government officials, MPs, prominent journalists and leaders of commerce and industry have all participated in our exchange programmes and praised them publicly," said the embassy.
"The recently published information about our MEPI programmes has been available on the public website for years."
The embassy said MEPI had supported government efforts to develop the judicial system in Bahrain and create "a new generation of legal professionals" with input from the American Bar Association (ABA).
It also highlighted assistance in developing the Judicial and Legal Studies Institute (JLSI) and implementation of Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) recommendations.
Bahraini MP Ahmed Al Saati yesterday confronted US Ambassador Thomas Krajeski over concerns about the MEPI programme, which states on its website that it has contributed more than $600 million to "grant projects" in the countries where it operates. - TradeArabia News Service