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.
US: Stop Proposed Arms Sales to Bahrain (Human Rights Watch)
US to Supply Armored HMMWVs and TOW Missiles to Bahrain for $53 Mil (Aerospace $ Defense)
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)
- Top Stories
- Unusual News
- Where is the Money Going?
- U.S. and the World
- Appointments and Resignations
- Latest News
- Fracking Industry Wins Weak Ingredient Disclosure Rule
- Widely Used Polygraph Test Proves Faulty
- Study Demonstrates Election Official Bias against Latinos
- Since Killing 13, Fort Hood Shooter Has Earned $278,000 in Salary as Army Psychiatrist
- Tightened Arizona Border Security Pushes Migrants to Dangerous Routes, More Deaths