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U.S. Close to Selling $53 Million Worth of Weapons to Bahrain
October 18, 2011
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According to a top U.S. diplomat, the United States has finalized a $53 million weapons deal with the Persian Gulf Kingdom of Bahrain. In a September press release, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said it would sell Bahrain weapons including missiles, as well as vehicles, other equipment, training, and logistical support.

The release claims the sale "will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a major non-NATO ally that has been, and continues to be, an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East". The U.S. currently anchors its Fifth Fleet, a key component of its military power in the region, in Bahrain. According to Stephen Seche, the U.S. official who announced the deal's finalization, the weapons will be used only "for the external defense of Bahrain".

But that's not what everyone believes: various groups have pressured the Obama administration not to go through with the sale because they believe Bahrain has failed to reform after being accused of various human rights violations. Many rights organizations have come out against the arms sale, and five Democratic senators wrote a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to express their concerns.

Groups such as Human Rights First argue that the U.S. should not be selling arms to Bahrain since "the Bahraini government is violently cracking down on pro-democracy advocates". In a podcast on their site, they interview two pro-democracy advocates - Roula al-Safar and Jaleela al-Salman - both of whom describe chilling experiences of detention and violence, allegedly at the hands of Bahraini security forces.

The Bahraini government established a commission in June to investigate such claims of torture and abuses. Various members of the opposition say they have "little confidence" that the outcome of the investigation will be unbiased.


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