Administration Renews Bahrain Weapons Sale
Citing national security interests, Victoria Nuland, spokesperson for the State Department, released a statement which details the Administration’s decision to “release additional items and services for the Bahrain Defense Force, the Coast Guard, and the National Guard for the purpose of helping Bahrain maintain its external defense capabilities.” According to Nuland, while taking into consideration “a number of serious unresolved human rights issues…the Government of Bahrain needs to address,” the items that will be released are not intended for use in crowd control. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed similar sentiment days prior, saying “that much work remains to fully address ongoing human rights issues.” Nuland blamed the Government of Bahrain and the opposition for the ongoing violence, and urged both sides to work together.
While the Administration has recently released “additional items and services” to the Bahrain Navy, this action comes after H.J. Res. 80 attempted to suspend the sale. In addition, in February, multiple members of Congress sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to “express our opposition to the Adminstration’s decision to move forward with the sale of a limited number of military items and services to Bahrain,” as they “believe that any such sale at this time sends the wrong signal to Bahrain and the world about America’s commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights.”
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Jim McGovern, who have for months urged the administration to abandon the sale they say will send the wrong message to the Bahraini’s–and the world–about U.S.’s commitment to human rights, deplored (subscription only) the administration’s decision. “This is exactly the wrong time to be selling arms to the government of Bahrain. Things are getting worse, not better,” Wyden said in a statement. “Until there is more substantial and lasting progress on human rights, I will continue to oppose arms sales to Bahrain and (will) work in Congress on legislative options to address this issue,” said McGovern.
Brian Dooley of Human Rights First said “This sale is completely out of step with the United States’ stated commitment to reform in Bahrain.”