The U.S. has resumed arms sales to the government of Bahrain, which has witnessed recent episodes of massive repression of opposition demonstrations propagated in the country in the wake of the so-called Arab Spring. Washington has made it clear – in an attempt to defuse persistent criticism – that it would not provide the Government of Manama with any equipment for crowd control, and that the weapons in question will be sold to the monarchy only with the intent of supporting its “external defense capabilities.”
The decision, however, raises the disapproval and outrage of human rights groups who remember how, from February 2011 to date, the repression in the country – a strategic US ally in the Gulf, which also happens to be the port for the ships of the Fifth U.S. Fleet , just off the coast of Iran – caused between 60 and 90 dead, thousands injured, and the arrest of dozens of opposition leaders (one of these, the human rights activist Abdelhadi al-Khawaja, who has been on a three months long hunger strike, surviving only because of force-feeding by government doctors).
The U.S. will soon be selling Bahrain a warship, a few patrol boats and engines for F-16 jets. For the time being, deliveries of the latest Tow missiles and powerful Humvee military jeeps, which could be used against the demonstrators, remain blocked.