After human rights groups and members of Congress raised concerns about plans to sell $53 million in weapons to the Bahraini government, the Obama administration announced that they are holding off on the sale for now:
The US has said that it will consider a special investigation of alleged human rights abuses in Bahrain before moving ahead with a $53m arms deal to the Gulf kingdom.
In a letter to Ron Wyden, a US Democratic senator, and in public statement, the state department said on Tuesday that it shared congressional misgivings about Bahrain’s treatment of protesters and would await the results of a special inquiry established by the king.
The commission’s report to King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa is due on October 30.
“That’s something we would look at closely,” Mark Toner, the State Department spokesman, said, speaking about the commission’s report.
“We’re going to continue to take human rights considerations into account as we move toward the finalization of this deal.”
He added that several procedural steps remain before the US could deliver the weapons to Bahrain and noted the sale pertained to equipment for Bahrain’s “external defence purposes”.
This news is encouraging, but we don’t know what the outcome of the commission process will be. As Amnesty International highlights in a new report, there are still major concerns about standards around arms sales to the Middle East and North Africa, issues that will be very important when negotiations on an international Arms Trade Treaty start up next year.
We need to remain vigilant and continue to encourage senators and representatives to cosponsor resolutions to block the sale if human rights abuse concerns are not addressed. Click here to tell your senators and representative to cosponsor.