As the Russophobic propaganda campaign in the United States intensifies, a number of observers in the United States have recently been wondering why US President Donald Trump would decide to substantially reduce the funding of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), reducing the amount of “aid” that agency is providing to former Soviet countries to zero.
It is hardly worth reminding an informed reader that behind the “humanitarian concerns” USAID allegedly claims to address, one could easily trace attempts to destabilize and bring down governments that refuse to obey Washington’s dictates and, therefore, were labeled as unwanted. This has been especially true in recent years for the activities that USAID was engaged in across Latin America: in Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia, Cuba and a number of other countries. For instance, it’s a well-established fact that in Haiti CIA operatives conducted their activities under the guise of USAID employees back in 2003-2004. USAID has also been financing and coordinating the activities of numerous non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that were involved in staging a coup d’état in a bid to overthrow President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
It curious that to back civil protests in Cuba back in 2009, the US created a special social network called ZunZuneo, nicknamed “Cuban Twitter.” The network was designed as a way to discuss sports, weather and dating, but then users would see political topics appear in it that were aimed to “increase the number of dissatisfied with the current government” and push them to engage in civil unrest. As the Associated Press agency discovered in 2014, Washington initially tried to hide its involvement in the project by using an array of allegedly independent companies. As it later was established, the project was supervised and funded by USAID. An employ of this organization, Matt Herrick, would even announce in an interview with the BBC back in 2014 that the agency was proud of the work it had done in Cuba.
It was not without USAID’s “educational initiatives” that the personnel of a number of US intelligence agencies managed to create an extensive amount of chaos in post-Soviet space, in particular, destabilizing a number of Caucasus and Central Asian states, along with Ukraine. In some of these countries, Washington has not simply managed to aggravate the political situation by using USAID, but to bring into power a number of obedient politicians, following the template of the Nazi coup in Kiev. However, it failed to show any comprehensive results in the majority of regional states due to the strengthening of Russia’s position in the region. This forced the White House to audit USAID’s funding allocated for its operations in post-Soviet space.
As a result, in accordance to Trump’s decision, USAID will completely leave four countries: Azerbaijan, losing 7.7 million dollars a year allocated to its activities in this state, Belarus (with another 7.9 million dollars a year lost), Kazakhstan (6.1 million dollars a year lost) and Turkmenistan, where the yearly funding was considerably lower with 3.9 million dollars a year.
The largest decrease in funding allocated to USAID programs would occur in Ukraine – where the funding will be reduced from 570.9 million dollars per year to 177.8 million dollars a year, which constitutes a 68.8% decrease. Programs in Georgia have also been cut down, plunging from 47.5 million dollars a year to 28 million dollars for the same period (a 41.1% decrease), and Kyrgyzstan where USAID funds will plunge from 44.8 million dollars a year to 18 million dollars a year (a 59.9% decrease). Similar cuts were applied to the ongoing operations of the agency in Tajikistan and Moldova. In percentage terms, the largest cuts will be applied to USAID’s operations in Armenia, with the funding being reduced from 17.6 million dollars a year to just 4 million dollars for the same period, which constitutes a whooping 77% decrease.
The only CIS country, where the scope of USAID operations will increase is Uzbekistan, with local NGO getting 9.8 million dollars a year instead of 9.39 million for the same period of time.
However, one should not have the impression that the United States is going anywhere, since there’s no scenario under which it would agree to leave post-Soviet countries to self-determination, especially those situated in Central Asia. One such country is Kyrgyzstan, where Washington has long been staging scenarios that could influence the sociopolitical and economic processes taking place there. The American “demonstrative withdrawal” from Kyrgyzstan, which began after the closure of a US Air Force Base in Manas back in 2014, was carried out with the sole purpose of showing that the countries refusing to obey Washington’s dictates would receive no “favors” from Washington, which is expressed in money.
So, despite the news about “a substantial reduce in funding,” the actual funding of all of USAID’s programs will be purely selective, with “key” Washington’s project remaining intact. Those are “human rights” protests, the monitoring of radical and extremist sentiments, projects on freedom of religion, and programs on party building and reform of judicial and security structures. The reduction or complete termination of funding will affect “non-priority projects,” such as the fight against HIV and tuberculosis.
We must not forget that today, after the failure of the majority of the so-called “color revolutions” staged and inspired by Washington with the help of USAID, the United States is going to play a high-stakes game in regarding religious struggles against unwanted governments. Therefore, we cannot rule out that a great many countries, including those situated in post-Soviet space, will witness the USAID and other Western-sponsored NGO promoting an era of religious renaissance. Once those newly established religious leaders gain enough support, after being nurtured by USAID grants, they will turn against sovereign governments.
Therefore, even as the focus of USAID activities and similar Western NGOs shifts, it would be silly to assume that they would reduce the amount of their activities anywhere in the world, they only devise new “trends” and regroup their forces, trying to use the most “effective” scenarios to bring unwanted governments down.
Jean Périer is an independent researcher and analyst and a renowned expert on the Near and Middle East, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”