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Tipsheet

How About $800 Million for the Arab Spring?

Guy has been bringing you the dirty domestic details of Obama's latest budget, but tucked away in the mounds of text and numbers, President Obama has allocated a cool $800 million to go towards the "Arab Spring."

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In his annual budget message to Congress, President Barack Obama asked that military aid to Egypt be kept at the level of recent years -- $1.3 billion -- despite a crisis triggered by an Egyptian probe targeting American democracy activists.

The proposals are part of Obama's budget request for fiscal year 2013, which begins October 1. His requests need the approval of Congress, where some lawmakers want to cut overseas spending to address U.S. budget shortfalls and are particularly angry at Egypt.

Obama proposed $51.6 billion in funding for the U.S. State Department and foreign aid overall, when $8.2 billion in assistance to war zones is included. The "core budget" for the category would increase by 1.6 percent, officials said.

Most of the economic aid for the Arab Spring countries -- $770 million -- would go to establish a new "Middle East and North Africa Incentive Fund," the president said in his budget plan.

Analysts said it was difficult to tell how much of the proposal was actually new money.

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The funding request comes at the same time the new Egyption government, controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood, is holding American citizens on accusations of "suspicious" behavior, but charges and the exact details of the crimes haven't been released to the U.S. Government at this point.

The State Department said Thursday it has not received the official document from an Egyptian magistrate laying out charges against the staff of U.S. and international democracy-building groups.

Egyptian authorities announced this week that 43 foreigners working for civil society organizations will face prosecution. That includes 16 Americans, according to the State Department. Among them is Sam LaHood, the son of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

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