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Why Did the U.S. Give Bahrain $200M in Defense Sales Prior to Domestic Aggression?


Front view of the White House

Via Scott Ableman, flickr

The State Department’s report shows a rise of $112 million in licensed defense sales to Bahrain between 2009 and 2010.

By William Shaub, Online Editor

Government data has surfaced revealing the Obama administration approved $200 million in military sales to Bahrain last year, just months before the country launched a violent crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

The financing did not come, in fact, by the American taxpayer. It came from U.S “defense companies,” who are often called privateers or privately trained mercenaries. The State Department’s report shows a rise of $112 million in licensed defense sales to Bahrain between 2009 and 2010.

A substantial portion of the sales involved rifles, shotguns and assault weapons. The Gulf nation is led by an extraordinarily repressive state, but also happens to be home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, making it an ally of the West.

The most recent developments in the country’s crackdown on the pro-democracy movement involves dozens of doctors and nurses being put on trial for treating injured protestors. Two former Shiite public servants were tried on Sunday for demanding regime change. Also, a 20 year old Bahraini poet has been sentenced to a year in prison, which follows the arrest of Ayat al-Gormezi earlier this year when she openly criticized the U.S supported monarchy.

Since mid-February of this year, the kingdom has confronted demonstrators with legions of the military and police force firing live ammunition. At least 31 protestors have reportedly died and hundreds more have been injured in the clashes.


Government forces not only smashed the tent city in Pearl Square — Bahrain’s Tahrir Square — but even demolished the Pearl statue that was Bahrain’s national symbol and had been appropriated by the protestors. The U.S-backed family dictatorship in Saudi Arabia also sent arms and troops to quell the democratic disturbances in Bahrain.

The United States’ response to the anti-democratic monarchy has been one of unremitting support, yet it has also been mixed with empty rhetoric for the Western media to report. The Obama administration has managed to criticize the use of violence against dissenters by police and military units; however, no repercussions have been announced or even introduced, other than a Congressional review of whether or not Bahrain should continue to receive U.S weaponry.

Perhaps a reason for the staunch support of the Bahraini government could be that, in recent years, it has provided facilities and even some ground forces for U.S. actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In fact, the Obama administration even invited Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, where he and President Obama had a brief and “productive” meeting. The White House curiously didn’t register the meeting on the President’s public schedule. The administration was likely trying to avoid the public angst that occurred when Chinese President Hu Jintao, a regular human rights violator, was granted a state dinner and was accompanied by hundreds of executives from major international corporations, most of whom could also be considered human rights violators.

The White House stated that, during the meeting, Mr. Obama reaffirmed “the strong commitment” the U.S. has to Bahrain, implying that the U.S has a “strong commitment” to the Sunni minority monarchy. The U.S has also been quite transparent about its loyalty to the Saudi Arabian Sunni dictatorship, which is reportedly trying to “hike oil output to reduce gas prices for Americans” because it owes the U.S for keeping its naval fleet in the region and supporting the Bahraini government in its effort to “maintain stability.”

Perhaps a reason for the staunch support of the Bahraini government could be that, in recent years, it has provided facilities and even some ground forces for U.S. actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. For decades, Bahrain has sheltered the U.S Navy’s 5th Fleet in the Persian Gulf, which is, by far, the most powerful military presence in the region.

Furthermore, eastern Saudi Arabia is right across the causeway, and like Bahrain, happens to have a repressed Shiite majority. Of course, it also has most of the region’s oil reserves, and a possible Shiite alliance between the oppressed majorities in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain could have a disastrous effect in the eyes of western planners.

ARB Team
Arbitrage Magazine
Business News with BITE.

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  • The Photographer

    I’m glad you liked my photo but please if you are going to use it, you should abide by the Flickr terms of use, which call for not only attribution but also a link to the photographers photostream, profile page, or photo.  Thank you.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/ableman/165414119/

    • ARB Team

       Our bad. Link added to the photo!

  • The Photographer

    I’m glad you liked my photo but please if you are going to use it, you should abide by the Flickr terms of use, which call for not only attribution but also a link to the photographers photostream, profile page, or photo.  Thank you.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/ableman/165414119/

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