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

  • The road to literacy is paved with words, not tests
    From 50 years of the Review's overstocked archivesSam Smith, 2007 - Among the many myths of No Child Left Behind is that schools are in charge of literacy. I got an early inkling of the fallacy of this as I listened to black teenagers conversing in our DC neighborhood in the 1960s. As a writer, I was struck by their use of metaphor - trading insults whi […]
  • Trends: New latino students out number whites at University of California
    Huffington Post - The University of California has offered freshman admission to more in-state Latino students than white students for the first time, a change that reflects the state’s shifting demographics.Fall 2014 admissions data reported by the Los Angeles Times showed that 28.8 percent of California residents accepted to one of nine UC campuses were La […]
  • Family sues over school;s pledge citing "under God"
    USA Today - A family is suing the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District and its superintendent, seeking to have the phrase "under God" removed from the Pledge of Allegiance that students recite every day.A lawsuit filed in Superior Court in Monmouth County on behalf of the family, who wish to remain unidentified, and the American Humanist Assoc […]
  • Just politics
    In case you're in that minority of the Democratic Party who would like to see a woman president but not one who is corrupt, dishonest and embedded with the Wall Street crowd, we offer a few quotes from Elizabeth Warren that you would never hear from Hillary Clinton;There is nobody in this country who got rich on their own. Nobody. You built a factory ou […]
  • Who wants to cut government services?
    Richard Brenneman - From International Social Survey Programme data, complied by Larry Bartels of the Washington Post  […]
  • Morning Line
    President: Paul Ryan is now the only GOP candidate who is within single digits of Clinton in the Review's moving average of polls. But Clinton has lost a few points against every candidate other than Rubio. She leads her closest Democratic opponent, Elizabeth Warren, by 54 points. Here's are moving average of recent polls ink the GOP contest for th […]
  • Word
    One must have some occupation nowadays. If I hadn't my debts I shouldn't have anything to think about. - Oscar Wilde […]
  • Pocket paradigms
    One of the traits of a good reporter is boundless curiosity. If you can pass a bulletin board without looking at it, you may be in the wrong trade.Reporters don't have to be smart; they just have to know how to find smart people.I've never met an objective journalist because every one of them has been a human. Try going after the truth instead. It […]
  • Furthermore
    Elite college's acceptance rates declineHow 250 UPS wildcat strikers won their jobs back […]
  • The new before it happens
    We are glad to see a recent academic paper lends support to what we have been saying for the past decade: that we have turned from a democracy to a plutocracy. We phrased it somewhat differently. In an apology to younger Americans in 2003, your editor wrote, his generation "will likely be known as the worst generation - the one that brought the First Am […]
  • Weak link between mental illness and serious crimes
    American Psychological Assn - In a study of crimes committed by people with serious mental disorders, only 7.5 percent were directly related to symptoms of mental illness, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association. Researchers analyzed 429 crimes committed by 143 offenders with three major types of mental illness and found […]
  • Word
    In Washington today, knowledge is the only crime.  - Tom Engelhardt […]
  • Hil Clin behind millions in aid to corrupt Afghan ministries
    Washington Times - In internal government documents with potential repercussions for the 2016 presidential election, top officials at the U.S. Agency for International Development repeatedly cited former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for setting into motion a policy to waive restrictions on who could receive U.S. aid in Afghanistan, resulting in […]
  • Public universities giving less to poorest students
    Popular Resistance - A ProPublica analysis of new data from the U.S. Department of Education shows that from 1996 through 2012, public colleges and universities gave a declining portion of grants — as measured by both the number of grants and the dollar amounts — to students in the lowest quartile of family income. That trend has continued even though the re […]
  • Credit card usury incrasing big time
    NY Post - The average credit card interest rate for people with fair credit has hit 21 percent, up more than 2 percent from only a year ago, according to industry group CardHub.Credit card companies, which attract new customers with zero percent teaser rates and more rewards, have raised rates while their costs remain historically low, industry observers say […]