Washington arms Bahrain dictatorship again

This 2010 video is called Systematic Torture in Bahrain.

From Mother Jones in the USA:

US Resumes Arms Sales to Bahrain

—By Aaron Ross

Fri Sep. 23, 2011 1:29 PM PDT

Less than three months after including Bahrain on a list of human rights offenders requiring the United Nations’ attention, the Obama administration seems to have changed its mind. The US now believes Bahrain is “an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East,” according to a statement from the Defense Department, which intends to sell $53 million worth of military equipment and support to the Gulf state, including bunker buster missiles and armored vehicles.

“This is exactly the wrong move after Bahrain brutally suppressed protests and is carrying out a relentless campaign of retribution against its critics,” said Maria McFarland of Human Rights Watch, which flagged the sale yesterday. “By continuing its relationship as if nothing had happened, the US is furthering an unstable situation.”

McFarland was referring, of course, to the Bahraini government’s crackdown earlier this year against peaceful protesters, primarily Shiites, who momentarily captured the West’s attention with their demands for greater political, social, and economic rights from the ruling Sunni monarchy. In response, state security forces killed over 30 people and arrested some 1,400 more. Many were reportedly tortured.

The heavy-handed tactics succeeded in crushing the initial wave of protests, but the situation remains volatile. Police continue to violently repress anti-government activists; on Friday, they fired rubber bullets and tear gas at protesters during a demonstration ahead of tomorrow’s parliamentary by-elections.

With the exception of its statement at the UN and tepid condemnation from the White House, the US has refrained from publically criticizing its longtime ally, which hosts the Navy’s Fifth Fleet. In 2010 alone, the US approved more than $200 million in arms sales to Bahrain. Although the proposed $53 million deal is the first since last November, it will almost certainly go through, a Defense Department spokesman told Mother Jones. That’s because Congress would have to pass specific legislation to stop the sale—an unusual, if not unprecedented, action.

How exactly selling arms to this island kingdom of around a half-million citizens will “contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States,” as the Defense Department announcement claims, is unclear. The State Department, to which DOD referred that question, has yet to respond. But whatever the explanation, McFarland argues, the move casts a shadow on the US’s professed support for the ideals of the Arab Spring. “It will be hard for people to take US statements about democracy and human rights in the Middle East seriously when, rather than hold its ally Bahrain to account, it appears to reward repression with new weapons,” she said.

Why is Obama Selling Weapons to the King of Bahrain While He’s Attacking Pro-Democracy Protestors? Here.

Video from Bahrain allegedly shows police blocking anti-government protesters from leaving a burning house yesterday: here.

Universities in Bahrain dismiss all students, faculty, and staff who joined anti-government demonstrations: here.

President of Bahrain’s Center for Human Rights says numerous women are receiving long jail sentences for protesting: here.

Up to thousands of protesters in Sanabis, Bahrain, are chased by police who have fired tear gas and sound grenades: here.

Yemen, Bahrain, Syria (and Beyond) LiveBlog: The Surprise Return of Presidents and Protests: here.

Yemen: Bloodbath in Sanaa as Saleh Returns: here.

On September 22, a military court in Tunis temporarily released whistle blower Samir Feraini who had been in detention since May 29, 2011, after criticising the Tunisian Interior Ministry: here.

Syria’s opposition and ‘intervention’: here.

11 thoughts on “Washington arms Bahrain dictatorship again

  1. Yemeni cameraman for Iraq TV killed in Sanaa

    September 24, 2011

    A Yemeni cameraman working for Iraq’s state broadcaster died on Saturday after being shot days earlier while covering protests in Sanaa’s Change Square, the channel’s news director told AFP.

    Hussein Yahya al-Wadhaf, 25, had been working with Al-Iraqiya TV for a year, according to Abdul Karim Hammadi. He was shot on Monday, Hammadi said.

    “He was covering the demonstrations which saw a heavy reaction from the authorities against the protesters,” Hammadi said. “He was shot in his head, went into a coma, and died at 5:00 a.m. (0200 GMT) today.”

    Hammadi said a funeral was to be held for Wadhaf in Sanaa following afternoon prayers on Saturday.

    At least 40 people, among them dissident soldiers, were killed in violence that rocked Yemen’s capital on Saturday, according to an activist from the protest organizing committee.

    Fierce fighting between Yemeni security forces and dissident troops has rocked Sanaa since last week, killing 173 people.

    Seventy-eight people have been killed since President Ali Abdullah Saleh returned on Friday after three months in Saudi Arabia, despite his call for peace in the restive country.

    -AFP/NOW Lebanon



  2. Poor turnout in boycotted Bahrain by-elections

    DUBAI, Sep 24, 2011 (AFP) – A low turnout on Saturday marked the start of polling in Bahraini by-elections boycotted by the Shiite opposition after it walked out of parliament over violence against pro-democracy activists.

    The elections are being held to replace 18 MPs of the main Shiite opposition formation Al-Wefaq, who resigned in February shortly after protests triggered a deadly response from the authorities in the Sunni-ruled Gulf kingdom.

    In total, 55 candidates are vying for 14 seats in the 40-member chamber after four won their seats for lack of candidates.

    Only a dozen people were present on Saturday morning when the polling station opened in the fifth northern district, near the Shiite village of Saar outside Manama, witnesses said.

    “I came because this is my country. I’m unemployed but it’s not a reason not to vote,” said Ali Ahmad al-Jamri, 34, a Shiite electrician who has been without work for three years.

    The government had called on the 187,000 registered voters to turn out en masse.

    The authorities are also considering penalising eligible voters who boycott the polls, including firing them from their jobs, according to a Wednesday report in Al-Ayyam daily, which is close to the regime.

    The election is taking place after hundreds of youths were dispersed on Friday afternoon by tear gas as they tried to reach a Manama junction that used to be Pearl Square, epicentre of the month-long protest quashed in mid-March.

    The square, which became a symbol of the protest inspired by uprisings sweeping the Arab World, was razed shortly after the demonstrators were driven out.

    Youth groups have called for a new march Saturday towards the same site, to protest against the elections in Bahrain, as Al-Wefaq declared polling day a “day to mourn democracy.”

    Bahrain’s authorities say 24 people were killed in the unrest earlier this year, including four policemen. The opposition puts the death toll at 30.


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