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A Better Way to Support Middle East Reform

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The Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), an important component of the Bush administration's policy of promoting Middle East reform, is falling short. MEPI should be relaunched as a private foundation funded by the government, akin to the Asia Foundation or the Eurasia Foundation. Such a relaunch would permit MEPI to develop greater expertise in the region, use more flexible, effective aid methods, and gain some independence from other U.S. programs and policies that serve conflicting ends. The restructuring of MEPI should be part of a broader set of measures to establish a more visible, coherent institutional policy structure to pursue the critical goal of fundamental political and economic change in the Middle East.