News / Middle East

Activists Criticize US Resumption of Arms Sales to Bahrain

x
TEXT SIZE - +
Phillip Walter Wellman

DUBAI - Activists and opposition supporters in Bahrain have criticized a decision by the United States to resume arms sales to the troubled Gulf kingdom, saying it could encourage further human rights violations.

The U.S. State Department announced last week that the United States would begin selling some military supplies to Bahrain to help the country “maintain its external defense capabilities.”

Washington halted all sales last year after Bahraini authorities used deadly force to suppress the country’s pro-democracy uprising. U.S. officials have not specified what equipment will be available under the new policy. However, they say crowd control supplies will not be included.

The announcement comes amid fears that human rights violations in Bahrain could be increasing. Anti-government supporters clash with security forces on a nightly basis. A number of rights activists and opposition leaders have been arrested and remain in prison.

Matar Matar, a spokesperson for the main opposition party al-Wefaq, says most Bahrainis disapprove of the U.S. plan to resume selling weapons to their country.

"Bahrainis are disappointed by this decision," said Matar. "The situation is moving from bad to worse. This arms deal the government will interpret as a green light to continue the arrests."

According to Brian Dooley of Human Rights First, selling military supplies to Bahrain under the current circumstances would be a “disaster” for U.S. credibility in the Middle East.

"By allowing the arms sale to go through, either the U.S. thinks that real reform has happened or it’s decided that it doesn’t really matter anyway, that it’s going to sell them the weapons whether or not they reform," said Dooley. "Either way, it’s not producing and won’t produce real human rights reform."

State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland says while Bahrain has taken “some important steps” towards reform, “much work remains to be done.”

However, she also says maintaining Bahrain’s military capabilities is a “critical component” of America’s commitment to Gulf security.

The U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet is based in the country and is seen as vital to counter Iranian influence in the oil-rich region.

The resumption of arms sales follows a recent visit to Washington by Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman Hamid Al Khalifa, who met Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

The United States has been criticized for its mild response to Bahrain’s crackdown on pro-reform demonstrators over the past year, while showing strong support for opposition movements in other Middle Eastern nations.

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid