News / Europe

Britain Reviews Arms Sales to Bahrain

British Foreign Secretary William Hague (File Photo).
British Foreign Secretary William Hague (File Photo).

Britain's Foreign Office says arms sales to Bahrain are under urgent review following violence in the Gulf state. Human rights groups have criticized Britain for licensing the sale of tear gas and other riot control equipment to the country.

The foreign office says hundreds of cartridges of tear gas and other riot equipment have been licensed for sale to Bahrain within the past nine months.

Speaking to the BBC on Friday, Foreign Secretary William Hague said a review is under way on future arms exports to the country.

But he said Britain already has one of the most strict export criteria in the world.

"We do not sell material to other countries that are materials that are likely to be used for internal repression or to fuel regional or international conflicts and we strictly apply those criteria," said Hague.

Bahrain is one of a number of Arab countries that have been rocked by popular protest in recent months. In two countries, Tunisia and Egypt, the leadership has been ousted.

At least five people were killed during clashes in Bahrain on Thursday and during their funeral on Friday mourners called for the overthrow of the ruling family.

Britain has a long history of close ties with Bahrain. During the colonial era Bahrain was the center of Britain’s imperial administration and Bahrain only gained its independence forty years ago.

Now that close relationship has come under the spotlight.

The non-governmental organization Campaign Against the Arm Trade says Britain, by selling arms to Bahrain, has provided an authoritarian regime with the tools of repression.

Jane Kinninmont is a Bahrain expert with the London-based research group Chatham House. She says Britain and the United States are major suppliers of arms to Bahrain.

"The majority of arms sales to the Gulf countries are weapons for external use so I don't think that internal repression is actually the main driver of the arms sales," said Kinninmont.

She says a reform program that was launched in Bahrain ten years ago has largely failed and Bahrain’s western allies have not put enough pressure on the leadership.

"I've often heard Bahrainis criticize the UK and the US for not doing more on issues of democracy and human rights," she said. "The reform process really has stalled over the last five years. In the last year you could really say that some of the reforms have been reversed. But the US and the UK have simply continued to praise Bahrain as a reformer without really addressing some of these concerns."

Speaking Friday, British Foreign Secretary Hague said Bahrain’s government should have a dialogue with the opposition and that dialogue should lead to reform.

NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Head: Breach Won't Happen Again

Julia Pierson tells a House panel investigating a recent intrusion at the White House: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid