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

Saturday, September 24, 2011
King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa of Bahrain with Obama (photo: Getty Images)
Geopolitics and economics trump human rights and democracy in Bahrain, where the oil-based kingdom, led by King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, has spent months cracking down on protesters and dissidents and now is being rewarded with American military hardware from Washington.
The Department of Defense officially notified Congress on September 14 that 44 armored Humvees and hundreds of missiles are being sold to Bahrain for $53 million. It is the first sale of military equipment to Bahrain since it began attacking demonstrators earlier this year, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).
“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, deputy Washington director for HRW. “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.”
Bahrainis took to the streets in large numbers beginning in February and demanded democratic reforms. What they got in return was volleys of gunfire from security forces that killed seven people and wounded hundreds of others. The next month the government declared a “state of national safety,” with more deaths (20) and thousands more arrested.
In its notification to lawmakers, the Pentagon said the sale of weapons will contribute to American foreign policy and national security “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.”
In addition to being a loyal OPEC ally, Bahrain’s ruling family has allowed the United States Fifth Fleet to be based in their country, providing the U.S. Navy with an optimal location in the strategically-vital Persian Gulf region.
Since the U.S. overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, Bahrain has been left as the last nation with a Shi’a majority and a Sunni ruler.
The main contractors who will profit from the weapons sales to the King of Bahrain are AM General in South Bend, Indiana, and Raytheon Missile Systems Corporation in Tucson, Arizona.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Scattered Clashes in Bahrain Before Tense Election (by Brian Murphy, Associated Press)
Two PR Firms Pitch Bahrain Dictator to U.S. Public (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)
U.S. Military vs. Human Rights in Bahrain (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


AndrewElvis 10 years ago
nearly everybody in america calls the gulf the persian gulf. if you said the arabian gulf in the united states very few people would know what you are talking about. even people who fanatically hate iran in the u.s. call it the persian gulf. no use trying to change it. you're lucky if americans can find any particular place on the globe, much less call it by its correct name. (assuming arabian gulf is the correct name. i'm an american and therefore too ignorant to ever know anything for certain)
AarontheMan 10 years ago
this article is pro-iranian to the core. look, the contributor refers to arabian gulf as "persian" gulf. so iran wins here. you get to choose between either of the two choices. you either support the pro-american, pro-western king and his generous democratic reforms or you let the islamic fundamentalists, the shiite radicals take hold of power. if latter occurs, you will see the rise of islamic republic of bahrain which will then allign itself with islamic republic of iran. with that, it will be the end of american democracy in bahrain. bahrain will be ruled by a pro-khomeini shiite radical. i tell ya, mark my words, that will be the end of us-bahrain friendship as you know it!

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