Bahrainis’ New Demand: USA Stop Arming Killers

Written by  Published by:Shiite News
Published in Articles
Tuesday, 17 July 2012


bahrain protestOn July 7, Bahraini people took to the streets in several towns and villages to stage anti-government rallies and express their anger at US for meddling with their country´s internal affairs. Bahrain hosts the US Fifth Fleet, which patrols the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea, and is among the Persian Gulf countries that receive weapons and military systems from the United States.

For more than one year now, demonstrations have

been taking place day after day across Bahrain against the brutal regime of King Hamad Al-Khalifa. Dozens of protesters have been killed since the revolution started. Bahraini police and army killed at least thirty people during the mass demonstrations of this year to demand political and social rights.

Over 1,000 people have been detained and many of them have been tortured. Thousands of public sector workers have been fired for allegedly taking part in protests against the regime.

Recently, a military tribunal in Manama sentenced twenty doctors to prison terms of up to 15 years. The doctors faced shameful charges, including hiding weapons in hospitals, “occupying a hospital,” and acting to overthrow the regime. No credible evidence against the doctors was presented in the court and they suffered abuse and torture in prison and were denied full access to their lawyers.

US weapons for Bahrain

The US has been for a long time the major supplier of weapons to the Bahraini regime. A TomDispatch analysis of the Pentagon documents showed that “since the 1990s, the United States has transferred large quantities of military material, ranging from trucks and aircraft to machine-gun parts and millions of rounds of live ammunition, to Bahrain´s security forces”.

According to data from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the US has sent Bahrain dozens of tanks, armoured personnel carriers, and helicopter gunships. The US has also supplied the Bahrain Army with thousands of .38 caliber pistols and millions of rounds of ammunition, including .50 caliber ammunition for sniper rifles, machine guns etc. In 2010, Washington sold over $200 million worth of weapons to Bahrain, up from $88 million in 2009.

Despite all above-mentioned violations of the human rights, US Defense Department recently agreed to provide the Bahraini government with another $53 million worth of weapons, the first one since the revolution began. The resumption of military sales took place shortly after a visit to Washington by Bahrain Crown Prince Salman Hamid al-Khalifa. There, he met Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

According to ForeignPolicy.com’s The Cable Blog, the US-Bahraini arms deal includes six harbor patrol boats, communications equipment for Bahrain’s US-made air-defense system, ground-based radars, air-to-air-missile systems, Seahawk helicopters, parts for F-16 fighter engines, Cobra helicopters, and night-vision equipment.

The agreement also includes 44 armored vehicles -of the type used to crush the demonstrations-. Igt is noteworthy to point out that US weapons have been used by Bahraini security forces for cracking down on pro-democracy protesters since last year.
Senator Patrick Leahy (D – VT) has criticized the resumption of arms to Bahrain. Although he claimed to be pleased because no tear gas will be included in this sale, Leahy thinks that the deal still sends “the wrong message.” Brian Dooley, director of the Washington-based charity Human Rights First, also condemned the arms sale as a “reward” for the Bahraini dictatorial regime.

No matter how the US Administration tries to sell its decision, it will be seen as a clear support for the Al-Khalifa dictatorship. ““You really should be nicer to the people you are oppressing; oh, by the way, here are the weapons you were expecting” is what Manama will hear from Washington”, complained Mohammed al-Maskati, a Bahraini human rights activist: “It is a direct message that we support the authorities and we don't support democracy in Bahrain, we don't support protestors in Bahrain.”

According to a recent report by Julian Barnes and Adam Entous in the Wall Street Journal, the US has positioned itself against democracy in Bahrain. “Starting with Bahrain, the administration has moved a few notches toward emphasizing stability over majority rule,” according to a US official quoted by the Journal. “Everybody realized that Bahrain was just too important to fail.” This means that the US Administration is directly working against democracy and freedom in Bahrain.
In order to cover this reality, American officials have been using a rhetorical and hypocritical language. They have often called for “restraint” on both sides -Bahraini pro-democracy protesters and the dictatorial regime who is killing Bahraini people-. A recent statement by the State Department statement praised Bahrain for its “reforms” and urged more. It also condemned the civilian protesters for their “violence” against police and demanded that they “refrain from incitement.”
The deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy in Manama, Stephanie Williams, has visited the injured Bahraini security forces, who took part in the crackdown on Bahraini protesters. The main opposition group in Bahrain, Al Wefaq, issued a statement, censuring the visit claiming that it “indicates that Washington ignores the suppression campaign led by the Bahraini government against peaceful popular protests”.

Therefore, Bahraini people now consider that the US goverment is partly responsible for the tyranny under which people have been suffering for a very long time. This will likely to produce anger and hatred toward the United States. Echoing this reality, a recent New York Times article was titled: “As Hopes for Reform Fade in Bahrain, Protestors Turn Anger on United States.”

According to the article, “For months, the protests have aimed at the ruling monarchy, but recently they have focused on a new target…. the young protestors added a new demand, written on a placard in English, so the Americans might see: “USA Stop arming the killers.”

Rating: 5 Read 730 times Last modified on Tuesday, 17 July 2012

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