Last updated: 25 September, 2013

US and EU bungled Arab Spring strategy

The United States and the European Union lack strategy and influence in countries affected by the Arab Spring despite directing billions of dollars in aid towards the region since 2011, a report said Wednesday.

“The United States and Europe have yet to show the requisite political will or to develop sustainable strategies to help Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and Yemen in their democratic transitions more than two years after a wave of popular revolutions toppled decades old autocracies,” the report by the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East found.

“Faced with the vast amounts of cash the Gulf countries could provide rapidly to the transition countries, some in Washington and Brussels wondered if the United States and the EU even had much to offer,” the study added.

The report’s authors — Danya Greenfield, Amy Hawthorne and Rosa Balfour — said that in the past year “fatigue and frustration more than energy and hope” had characterized Washington and Europe’s dealings with Arab Spring nations.

Former US State Department official Hawthorne said supporting the Arab Spring was not a priority for the United States despite President Barack Obama’s May 2011 speech which vowed to provide diplomatic, economic and strategic aid to boost a swift transition to democracy.

EU policy had been marked by a “mismatch between stated commitments and the will to deliver on them,” Balfour added.

“The EU does not have a strategic vision because the priorities of the member states vary,” the report added. “Some such as France and the United Kingdom have a stronger focus on security; others such as Spain and Italy, focus on mobility and migration; and still others, such as Sweden, the Netherlands and Poland are more committed to democratic transition,” the report added.

The report did not provide a figure for the total amount of aid provided to the region by the United States and the European Union.

The majority of US assistance goes to Egypt, with a billion dollars of US aid promised, including 190 million given in March.

The EU made 250 million euros available to Egypt with a further 750 million euros earmarked for loans and grants.