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Cablegate: Mepi Fy 2004 Funding Recommendations

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 MANAMA 000444

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR NEA/PI AND NEA/ARP
CAIRO FOR STEVE BONDY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KMPI EAID ECON PREL KPAO BA
SUBJECT: MEPI FY 2004 FUNDING RECOMMENDATIONS

REF: A) STATE 055472, B) 03 MANAMA 2921, C) 03 MANAMA 2391

1. (U) Post's MEPI working group met on March 23 to review
ref A. The following is the Mission's response.

CROSS PILLAR

2. (U) Post's MEPI working group is considering four MEPI
small grants. Post will advise MEPI of details via email
per reftel.

ECONOMIC PILLAR

3. (U) In conjunction with the FTA negotiation process, a
U.S. interagency team is coordinating with the Government of
Bahrain to identify and prioritize Bahrain's trade-related
technical assistance needs to implement FTA effectively.

4. (U) Post welcomes the continued funding of the MEET U.S.
program. Last year, post sent two participants to the MEET
U.S. hospital administration program. The program was
timely, giving post the opportunity to respond positively to
a Ministry of Health request for USG technical assistance to
foster its hospital administration reorganization. Post has
one request in conjunction with the MEET U.S. program:
paperwork reduction. Given stretched resources at post
(which will only be stretched further with FTA
implementation), it would be helpful if the officer
paperwork required to follow up on the interview process
could be reduced to a single page of the most pertinent
information (e.g., officer assessments, vice information
already covered in the candidates' paperwork) that the
Washington MEET U.S. team needs to make its candidate
selection. This reduction will make it easier for busy
posts to review and submit applications for the program.

POLITICAL PILLAR

----------------------------------
NDI CONTINUES TO BE IN HIGH DEMAND
----------------------------------

5. (U) Post fully supports funding for regional campaign
schools.

6. (U) NDI's solid reputation for delivering quality
programming is attracting demand for NDI's services from
across Bahrain's political spectrum. The Secretary General
of Bahrain's Supreme Council for Women recently asked NDI's
local representative to develop a training program for women
active in politics. The Minister of the Royal Court, who
sponsors NDI's presence in Bahrain, invited NDI to develop a
curriculum to train government officials to respond more
effectively to parliamentary questioning and other
requirements of a democratic government. National Assembly
members highly value NDI's activities and are constantly
asking EMBOFFs to increase NDI interventions with Assembly
members and staff. More recently, Bahrain's constellation
of political societies asked NDI's local representative to
facilitate a "retreat" to foster dialogue on the country's
political future. We think this event could begin a process
that could heal the split in Bahrain's political elite that
emerged after the promulgation of the 2002 constitution.
Post encourages NEA/PI to make a large allocation to NDI to
support the development of political organizations in
Bahrain.

7. (SBU) On March 25, NDI permanently transferred
parliamentary specialist Audrey McLaughlin from Bahrain to
Morocco because of insufficient funds to support her
presence here. McLaughlin's departure leaves a large hole
in our democracy support line-up and limits our ability to
respond to demand. We hope NEA/PI can increase funding for
NDI democracy support activities this fiscal year. NDI is,
right now, the only quality service provider in town. If it
cannot meet the demand, local officials will turn to NDI's
competitors, like UNDP, which provides a higher cost service
with very weak democracy content.

-----------------------
HERE WE GO AGAIN - IFES
-----------------------

8. (U) Election Assistance (IFES). Post can support a
senior IFES official's visit to approach GOB officials to
offer a project assessment. If the GOB formally accepts
this offer, the Embassy can support the conducting of an
IFES study. Bahrain's next elections are scheduled for FY05
and FY06. The GOB is proud of its election administration
system and has never asked us, or anyone else for that
matter, for assistance to improve what the GOB believes to
be a very successful system.

9. (U) IFES also must overcome a significant credibility
problem with the GOB. A previous project here ended badly
and left some key GOB officials very bitter towards the
organization. (see refs B AND C). We feel boosting funding
for NDI would be a better use of additional MEPI democracy
spending in Bahrain.

--------------------------------------------- -----
PARLIAMENTARY STRENGTHENING - ONE NGO ONLY, PLEASE
--------------------------------------------- -----

10. (U) Post has reviewed this IRI proposal, of which the
bulk of its funding goes to Morocco and Jordan. Secondary
project goals for the Gulf States encourage multi-party
political systems and increase the numbers of candidates for
political office. NDI Program Manager Fawzi Guleid has been
successfully achieving these goals for the last 18 months in
Bahrain. Guleid is well-respected and a much sought after
commodity in Bahraini society. Post strongly suggests that
MEPI increase funding to NDI for parliamentary strengthening
activities, rather than introduce another U.S. NGO. Bahrain
is a small place and we have a small embassy with limited
resources. Supporting more than two major political
activities here (NDI and ABA) is beyond current Embassy
resources to oversee.

----------------------------------------
JUDICIAL REFORM AND THE ABA - A GOOD FIT
----------------------------------------

11. (U) Judicial and Legal Reform (ABA). MEPI currently
funds the American Bar Association's judicial reform project
in Bahrain. The four main areas of reform are case
management, alternative dispute resolution, prosecutor
training and judicial training. The ABA and the Minister of
Justice are currently negotiating a Memorandum of
Understanding (MOU) that outlines how ABA can achieve the
goals and objectives of the reform project. Once the MOU is
signed between the ABA and the MOJ, Post strongly recommends
continued funding for this ABA program.

---------------
CIVIC EDUCATION
---------------

12. (U) Post strongly supports continuing funding for Arab
Civic Education Programs. The Project Director visited
Bahrain in February and we are awaiting follow up to the
first visit.

-----
MEDIA
-----

13. (U) Post concurs with MEPI's decision to evaluate the
results of the InterNews media training program prior to
investing further in this project. We welcome other
initiatives to support the emergence of a transparent and
independent media and to continue to reach out and engage
the next generation of media professionals. Post encourages
MEPI to consider projects with broad exposure to U.S. media,
such as U.S.-based internships for communications students
and short-term fellowships/professional development
opportunities for established journalists who cannot leave
their jobs for a long period of time.

----------------
EDUCATION PILLAR
----------------

14. (U) Post is awaiting Ministry of Education approval of
the "My Arabic Library" program. Representatives from
Scholastic Books will visit post April 18-21 to meet with
Ministry officials about the program. Depending on the
Ministry's response, we may want to participate in expansion
of the program to other grade levels.

15. (U) Post strongly supports continued (and increased)
funding of the student leaders program. We have had
outstanding candidates for these programs and the Ministry
of Education and University of Bahrain have emphasized that
leadership opportunities for students are among their
highest priorities as well. ECA's excellent management and
oversight of these programs has been key, in post's view.

16. (U) Post enthusiastically supports the University
Linkages Program and its continuation. We currently oversee
two very productive MEPI linkages with the University of
Bahrain. (Comment: The University's Vice President
recently told the PAO: "We have dozens of relationships on
paper with other universities, but the two MEPI linkages are
the most successful ones we've had - they are really
accomplishing something." Kudos to ECA since both linkages
were initiated by former U.S. Fulbright professors who
taught at the University of Bahrain.) Post has requested
that these linkages be extended in FY 04 via sep email. We
appreciate MEPI's rapid response to our request, which
included explicit instructions on what the U.S. institutions
need to do to apply for extensions.

17. (U) Post strongly agrees with MEPI's decision to
postpone expansion of CRI in Bahrain. Due to the structure
of the Ministry of Education, the Child Centered Schools
program is unworkable in Bahrain.

--------------
WOMEN'S PILLAR
--------------
18. (U) Embassy Manama welcomes the opportunity to
facilitate the participation of Bahraini women in regional
MEPI women's pillar programs.

19. (U) Post strongly supports continuation of the Business
Internships Program for young business women. It is our
understanding that Bahrain will be able to send only one
intern during the first year of the program due to funding
constraints. Given FTA negotiations and the importance of
increasing the private sector in Bahrain, we would like to
request that Bahrain be able to send up to three interns in
the next year of this program.

NEUMANN

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