Categorized | National, Politics

Revealed: America’s Arms Sales To Bahrain Amid Bloody Crackdown

 

Are We Supporting Democracy or Dictators?

 

by Justin Elliott
ProPublica News

 

Despite Bahrain’s bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, the U.S. has continued to provide weapons and maintenance to the small Mideast nation.

Defense Department documents released to ProPublica
give the fullest picture yet of the arms sales: The list includes
ammunition, combat vehicle parts, communications
equipment, Blackhawk helicopters, and an unidentified
missile system.  (Read the documents.)

Bahrain MapThe documents, which were provided in response to a Freedom of Information Act request and cover a yearlong period ending in February 2012, still leave many questions unanswered.  It’s not clear whether in each case the arms listed have been delivered.  And some entries that only cite the names of weapons may in fact refer to maintenance or spare parts.

Defense Department spokesman Paul Ebner declined to offer any more detail.  “We won’t get into specifics in any of these because of the security of Bahrain,” said Ebner.

While the U.S. has maintained it is selling Bahrain arms only for external defense, human rights advocates say
the documents raise questions about items that could
be used against civilian protesters.

Bahrain protesters“The U.S. government should not be providing additional military equipment that could make matters worse,” said Sunjeev Bery, Middle East advocacy director for Amnesty International USA.

There have been reports that Bahrain used American-made helicopters to fire on protesters in the most intense period of the crackdown.  Time magazine reported in mid-March 2011 that Cobra helicopters had conducted “live ammunition air strikes” on protesters.

The new Defense Department list of arms sales has two entries related to “AH-1F Cobra Helicopters” in March and April 2011.  Neither the exact equipment or services being sold nor the delivery timetable are specified.

The U.S. is also playing a training role: In April 2012, for example, the Army News Service reported that an American team specializing in training foreign militaries to use equipment purchased from the U.S. was in Bahrain to help with Blackhawk helicopters.

democracyBahrain’s ambassador to the U.S., Houda Nonoo, said the country’s military has not targeted protestors.  Bahrain’s military “exists to combat external threats,” Nonoo told ProPublica.  ”The potential for U.S. foreign arms sales to be used against protestors in the future is remote.”

The Obama administration has stood by Bahrain’s ruling family, who are Sunni, during nearly two years of protests by the country’s majority Shia population.  Bahrain is a longtime ally and the home to a large American naval base, which is
considered particularly important amid the current tensions with
nearby Iran.

nerve gasThe itemized arms sales list does not include dollar values but a separate document says military equipment worth $51 million was delivered to Bahrain in the year starting in October 2010.  (That period includes several months before the protests began.)

The U.S. has long sold weapons to Bahrain, totaling $1.4 billion since 2000, according to the State Department.  The sales didn’t come under scrutiny until security forces killed at least 19 people in the early months of the crackdown in 2011.  Dozens have died since then. 

The administration put a hold on one proposed sale of
Humvees and missiles in Fall 2011 following congressional
criticism.  But Foreign Policy reported that other unspecified Bahrain USAequipment was still being sold without any public notification.

The new documents offer more details on what was sold during that period u2014 including entries related to a “Blackhawk helicopter armament” in November 2011 and a missile system in January 2012.

In May 2012, the administration announced it was releasing some unspecified items to Bahrain’s military that “are not used for crowd control” while maintaining a hold
on the Humvees and TOW missiles.arms sales1

State Department spokesman Noel Clay told ProPublica, “We continue to withhold the export of lethal and crowd-control items intended predominately for internal security purposes, and have resumed on a case-by-case basis items related exclusively to external defense, counter-terrorism, and the protection of U.S. forces.”

The U.S. has also sold Bahrain a helicopter fit for the royal family.

heliIn September, Missouri-based aviation services firm Sabreliner reported that, as part of an official government arms sale, it delivered to Bahrain a fully customized UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopter for “a variety of missions including transporting heads of state.”  The aircraft was outfitted with a “clam shell door” for ease of entry, a “new VIP interior,” and a “custom Royal Bahraini” paint job.

bahraini protestersIn other recent developments in Bahrain, the country’s highest court this month upheld lengthy prison sentences for 13 high-profile activists accused of plotting to overthrow the government.

In a rare occurrence in November, a series of homemade bombs were set off in the capital of Manama, killing two and leading some observers to argue that the opposition is growing more militant.

Also in November, an Amnesty International report found that despite government promises, “the reform process has been
shelved and repression unleashed.”

arms sales

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* * * * * * * * * *

Images by the Humboldt Sentinel

Posted by Skippy Massey

One Response to “Revealed: America’s Arms Sales To Bahrain Amid Bloody Crackdown”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks


Leave a Reply

HumSentinel on Twitter

RSS Progressive Review

  • Hard days at First Look
    Djelloul Marbrook -  Mainstream journalism is now in the hands of five corporatoe dictators, five Citizens Kane. In committing $250 million to finance First Look and Intercept, eBay’s Pierre Omidyar promised to break this mold, this corporate manhandling of the news. American journalists took notice. Many applied for work at this new project, which has now, […]
  • What's happening
    What it's like trying to get a voter IDSweden become third EU state to recognize Palestine A Georgia appellate court recently reached a decision that holds parents liable for their kids’ online activity—an unprecedented legal ruling, lawyers said. The parents of a 7th grader were deemed “negligent” after failing to get their son to delete a defamatory F […]
  • Halloween outfit of the year
    Ruth Baby GinsbergSource unknown […]
  • The real Clinton story: 1983
    Stories the media doesn't tell you about the Clintons and the state that made them Mochtar Riady forms Lippo Finance & Investment in Little Rock. A non-citizen, Riady hires Carter's former SBA director, Vernon Weaver, to chair the firm. The launch is accomplished with the aid of a $2 million loan guaranteed by the SBA. Weaver uses Governor Clin […]
  • Real economics: Wealth
    Al Jazeera - More than 35 percent of Americans have debts and unpaid bills that have been reported to collection agencies, according to a study by the Urban Institute. Washington Post - The median net worth of American households declined between 2000 and 2011, the Census Bureau said in a report that showed the steepest drops experienced by minorities and pe […]
  • How we get rid of geniuses these days
     A question we have raised from time to time: Where is today's Albert Einstein? Our answer: Probably on Prozac somewhere. . More on this topic:Washington's Blog -  Scott Barry Kaufman (PhD in cognitive psychology from Yale)  writes in Scientific American: Research … has supported the notion that under certain conditions, people with ADHD characteri […]
  • Pocket paradigms
    You meet alot of process people in Washington. They're like vehicles without a drive belt. They make a lot of noise; they just can't go anywhere. Getting things done is now a radical act. Then there are the virtual people. They only exist as images of themselves. Talking to one of them is like watching a bad cable show without a zapper. Some scient […]
  • Word
    It's what you learn after you know it all that counts -- Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver […]
  • William Burroughs getting in the Halloween spirit
    VIA CURTIS KISE […]
  • Down East Notes
    PUBLIC INFORMATION ANNOUNCEMENT Town of Freeport, MEOn Monday evening, October 27, 2014, the Maine State Police informed Freeport’s Police and Fire Departments that Ms. Kaci Hickox would be stopping in Freeport for one night on her way to her home in Fort Kent. Ms. Hickox is a healthcare worker who recently returned to the United States after caring for Ebol […]
  • The new Middle Ages
    Some readers may recall our occasional thesis that we are living in a new Middle Ages in which the masses are up against a relatively few paranoid lords in well moated castles aka Washington and NYC. We were please to find that Monty Python was on this case some time ago.VIDEO […]
  • Mid and late career teachers are underpaid
    Center for American Progress:Mid- and late-career teacher base salaries are painfully low in many states. In Colorado, teachers with a graduate degree and 10 years of experience make less than a trucker in the state. In Oklahoma, teachers with 15 years of experience and a master’s degree make less than sheet metal workers. And teachers in Georgia with 10 yea […]
  • What's happening
    What happens when you criticize Teach for America? Over 214,000 doctors won't participate in the new plans under the Affordable Care Act analysis of a new survey by Medical Group Management Association shows. It's about a quarter of the total number of 893,851 active professional physicians reported by the Kaiser Family Foundation.The 29 states whe […]
  • FBI comes up with new assault on Constitution
    Guardian - The FBI is attempting to persuade an obscure regulatory body in Washington to change its rules of engagement in order to seize significant new powers to hack into and carry out surveillance of computers throughout the US and around the world.Civil liberties groups warn that the proposed rule change amounts to a power grab by the agency that would […]
  • How corporations staged a coup against America
    Vox - In September, a proposal to amend the US Constitution to allow tougher campaign finance and election spending restrictions went down to defeat in the Senate, on a party-line vote. Now, a new analysis by Common Cause rounded up the latest lobbying filings to find which interest groups disclosed lobbying against this amendment.There are no great surprise […]