Arab spending focus of U.S. hearing

May 17, 2013 at 1:35 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 17 (UPI) -- Corruption and economic growth must be considered when assessing the underlying cause of Middle East revolutions, a U.S. lawmaker said.

A vendor frustrated with economic conditions in Tunisia committed suicide in December 2010, sparking the country's Jasmine Revolution and opening the door to the so-called Arab Spring.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright testifies before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs next week on the economic issues tied to the regional uprisings.

"If we fail to consider the underlying causes of unrest, which can be traced to a lack of legal protections for personal property, endemic corruption and other constraints to economic growth, no amount of U.S. foreign assistance will help bring stability to the region," committee Chairman Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., said in a statement.

He said he wanted to know if the $1.5 billion set aside for democratic and economic support in the region did any good.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said in its March report that economic growth in the Middle East and North Africa should weaken as post-revolutionary stimulus packages expire.

Royce has been a critic of spending plans from the Obama administration. He said last month the president was trying to raise taxes without corresponding spending cuts.

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