US senators lobby to stop $53m Bahrain arms deal

Democrats appeal to President Obama to block weapons sale to protest-hit Gulf state
US senators lobby to stop $53m Bahrain arms deal
Bahrain saw weeks of political protests in February and March
By Claire Ferris-Lay
Thu 13 Oct 2011 12:09 PM

Five US
democrats have appealed to the Obama administration to postpone a $53m arms
sale to Bahrain in protest to the Gulf state’s crackdown on protestors during
its political unrest.

In a
letter to the US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton the group warned the
sale, which includes 300 missiles amongst other military equipment, would
weaken US creditability, media reports said.

“The
United States must make it clear to the government of Bahrain that its ongoing
human rights violations and unwillingness to acknowledge legitimate demands for
reform have a negative impact on its relationship with the United States,” the
group said. 

“In a
country with a population of only 525,000, this represents a systematic effort
to intimidate and punish those who promote democratic reform.”

The
Pentagon last month told lawmakers it had approved the sale of the weapons,
which includes more than 44 armoured Humvees, 50 of which have bunker busting
capability.

Governments
across the world have come under increasing pressure to stop selling security
equipment to the Gulf monarchy because of its crackdown on protestors.

The Gulf
state in March imposed martial law and called in troops from its Gulf
neighbours in a bid to quell weeks of unrest amid mass pro-reform
demonstrations in which more than 30 people have died.

Russia’s
state run arms trader, Rosoboronexport, in August said it was selling weapons
to Bahrain after the UK and France revoked export licenses for security equipment
amid concerns it would be used to quash political unrest in the Gulf state.

Rosoboronexport
told Bloomberg it was selling to AK103 Kalashnikovs with grenade launchers and
ammunition.

President
Obama in February condemned the use of violence used to curb anti-government
protestors across the Arab world.

“I am
deeply concerned by reports of violence in Bahrain, Libya and Yemen. The United
States condemns the use of violence by governments against peaceful protesters
in those countries and wherever else it may occur,” he said in a written
statement.

“The
United States urges the governments of Bahrain, Libya and Yemen to show
restraint in responding to peaceful protests, and to respect the rights of
their people.”

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