US Urged ‘Restraint’ in Bahrain After Sending Arms to the Dictatorship

The Obama administration has kept up support for Bahrain's repression despite international condemnation

by John Glaser, February 09, 2012

The Obama administration on Thursday urged the Bahraini government and pro-reform protesters to exercise restraint ahead of next week’s anniversary of the February 14 uprisings last year.

“The days and weeks surrounding the anniversary are a moment for all Bahrainis in all segments of society to come together to move beyond the pain of last year and begin to forge a more peaceful, prosperous future through genuine dialogue,” Michael Posner, U.S. assistant secretary of said on Thursday.

But actions are louder than words, and the Bahraini dictatorship surely heard Obama’s $1 million dollars in arms sale louder than the urge for restraint.

The Obama administration has quietly moved forward with a new package of arms sales to the regime in Bahrain, after international pressure forced them to delay its planned $53 million arms sale. Using legal loopholes that only require congressional authorization for sales of $1 million or more, the administration split the arms package and moved forward with the new sales without notifying the public.

Human Rights Watch has condemned Obama’s support for this repression, saying in a press release that the “decision to move forward on a $1 million arms sale to Bahrain sends the wrong signal to a country that is engaged in serious human rights abuses.”

U.S. support for Bahrain has remained assertive throughout its violent repression of Arab Spring protesters, allocating another $26 million in aid for 2012. Bahrain is the host of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which directs operations in the Persian Gulf and patrols the Straits of Hormuz, through which 40 percent of the world’s seaborne oil passes.

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