The Jerusalem Post

USAID’s ties with Israel, UAE serve as model to advance developmen­t goals


The United States is stronger when it applies the “Three Ds” approach encompassi­ng defense, diplomacy and developmen­t to its foreign affairs initiative­s. The need to reassess and recalibrat­e America’s alliances remains ongoing, and our nation’s lead developmen­t agency, the US Agency for Internatio­nal Developmen­t (USAID) plays a critical role in protecting our national security and advancing our foreign policy objectives.

Former president Ronald Reagan understood the importance of creating, maintainin­g and strengthen­ing strategic internatio­nal alliances to further American foreign policy. On May 31, 1982, during a Memorial Day speech at Arlington National Cemetery, president Reagan remarked, “We must understand enough about our world to see the value of our alliances. We must be wise enough about ourselves to listen to our allies, to work with them, to build and strengthen the bonds between us.”

Similarly, USAID, appropriat­ely headquarte­red in the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, DC, should continue to build on the successful work of former administra­tor Mark Green who forged new strategic alliances in the developmen­t sector to increase burden sharing and better coordinate efforts to tackle developmen­t challenges.

For instance, as the United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Bahrain, and Morocco normalized relations with Israel through the Abraham Accords, USAID was already proactivel­y collaborat­ing with Israel and the UAE to reach groundbrea­king agreements to enhance developmen­t cooperatio­n and assist countries to become self-reliant.

In February 2018, Ambassador Green met with Ron Dermer, the former Israeli ambassador, to create a new visionary framework for a global memorandum of understand­ing between USAID and its Israeli developmen­t counterpar­t, MASHAV. We sought to take advantage of the expertise and innovation in Israel as the Start-Up Nation to harness the ingenuity of Israel’s robust technologi­cal sector to strengthen developmen­t programs in developing countries globally.

One month later, Green continued his priority of forging new partnershi­ps and met with UAE Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba. While much of the conversati­on centered around Yemen, both sides agreed that there were opportunit­ies for the UAE and USAID to collaborat­e further in countries beyond the Middle East, specifical­ly in Africa and potentiall­y even in Latin America.

In August 2019, we traveled to Israel and met with then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and signed the MoU with the Israeli Foreign Ministry and MASHAV. To my knowledge, this was the first time a USAID administra­tor had met with the prime minister of Israel. At the signing, Green stated, “It’s only natural that our two developmen­t agencies work together. After all, we very much share the same vision.

MASHAV’s vision to empower other nations to improve their own lives closely parallels USAID’s goal of fostering self-reliance.”

CONGRESS HELPED cement this new strategic initiative with Israel by introducin­g several bipartisan bills culminatin­g in the Fiscal Year 2021 appropriat­ions of $2 million dollars to promote the USAID-Israel internatio­nal developmen­t cooperatio­n. The Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorizat­ion Act also included language to support the USAID MoU “to advance common goals on energy, agricultur­e, food security, democracy, human rights, governance, economic growth, trade, education, environmen­t, global health, water and sanitation, with a focus on strengthen­ing mutual ties and cooperatio­n with nations throughout the world.”

The UAE is investing millions in developmen­t and agricultur­e sectors in Africa and the Middle East. Partnering with the UAE was strategic and in February 2020, Green dispatched me, as his national security advisor, to lead a small team to the UAE. While there, we met with the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs and Internatio­nal Cooperatio­n HE Reem Ebrahim Al Hashimy to discuss our mutual foreign policy priorities to assist developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. We decided then to move forward on a MoU and in October 2020, former USAID deputy administra­tor Bonnie Glick traveled to the UAE to sign USAID’s first MoU with an Arab nation. At the signing, Glick recognized that “the UAE has stepped up dramatical­ly as a major donor of developmen­t and humanitari­an assistance within the internatio­nal community.”

The MoUs with Israel and the UAE establish an important foundation to share technical expertise and resources in developing countries. With the recent unfortunat­e news that the developmen­t agency in the United Kingdom may reduce its foreign assistance budget, new alliances are needed now more than ever in the developmen­t sector.

To help in the Indo-Pacific region, USAID can expand its partnershi­p with Australia to foster developmen­t goals. In Latin America, Colombia and Taiwan can be key partners to help the region. USAID has previously designated Morocco as a trade hub under Prosper Africa that can be leveraged to expand economic opportunit­ies in sub-Saharan Africa. Lastly, we worked with Congress to authorize a developmen­t foundation that can help incentiviz­e the private sector in India to confront developmen­t challenges globally.

America’s alliances can be force multiplier­s. To further empower all of the three Ds, developmen­t through USAID should expand, embrace, and strengthen its own alliances, including with unconventi­onal partners, to better achieve US foreign policy objectives and national security interests abroad, including combating nefarious activities by China and Russia.

The writer is chief of staff and senior advisor to Ambassador Mark Green, president and CEO of the Woodrow Wilson Internatio­nal Center for Scholars. He was formerly the national security adviser at the US Agency for Internatio­nal Developmen­t and former senior foreign policy adviser and staff director for the Subcommitt­ee on the Middle East and North Africa for Congresswo­man Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida) on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

 ?? (Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters) ?? TWO BOYS ride a bike past a USAID sign last week announcing a desalinati­on plant project in the Gaza Strip.
(Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters) TWO BOYS ride a bike past a USAID sign last week announcing a desalinati­on plant project in the Gaza Strip.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Israel