The US administration announced that it has decided to proceed with arms sales to Bahrain, despite the ongoing upheaval and protests from both the US Congress and global human rights groups. The sale includes equipment geared towards protecting the country from foreign threats, referring to Iran. Those include engines for F-16 planes and harbour security boats. The Pentagon noted that the sale does not include police equipment.
The US has suspended arms sales to the Gulf kingdom after the eruption of unrest at the start of the Arab Spring in 2011. Dozens of mainly Shiite protestors were killed in the unrest.
The announcement to resume arms sales came after a visit to Washington by Bahrain Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa.
May 15, 2012
Analysis and Forecast: Decreasing Risk
The visit and its outcome of the Crown Prince of Bahrain is undoubtedly a diplomatic win for the Bahraini regime. It is especially important as a proposed Saudi union with Bahrain failed after GCC states refused to proceed with it and amid much Iranian opposition, accusing the Saudis of attempting to annex Bahrain. The resumption of arms sales after several months of suspension demonstrates a clear change in the public reaction of the US towards the unrest in Bahrain and an endorsement of the Bahraini regime against Iranian threats. Whilst the US has still expressed concerns about alleged oppression of the protestors, the sales resumption is a positive development for Bahrain. The kingdom, however, still has to address the issue of local unrest that continues to simmer, by the country’s Shiite majority.
Below is a figure showing the population distribution of Bahrain: