U.S. to Send Weapons to Bahrain
Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today condemned the U.S. State Department’s decision to lift the holds on security assistance to the Bahrain Defense Force and National Guard. The holds were put in place in response to the Bahraini government’s crackdown on activists and civil society during peaceful protests in 2011.
“There is no way to dress this up as a good move,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley. “It’s bad for Bahrain, bad for the region, and bad for the United States.”
Today’s move is a major blow to efforts to push the Bahraini government to reform. Just three weeks ago the regime sentenced Ali Salman, leader of the Kingdom’s main opposition group al Wefaq, to prison. Human Rights First notes that the U.S. government is quickly losing its remaining credibility with people in the region who see a disconnect between the administration’s talk about human rights and the government’s arming of repressive dictators.
“The Obama Administration should be doing everything to stop sectarianism in the Middle East, rather than send more weapons to bolster a military drawn almost exclusively from Bahrain’s Sunni sect,” added Dooley.