As 20 of Bahrain’s physicians were being sentenced to prison terms of 5-15 years for treating victims of peaceful demonstrations, the US Government was readying the red bows on a package of $200m in military sales to the tiny Gulf nation.
The arms sale comes less than three months after the US included Bahrain on a list of human rights offenders requiring the United Nations’ attention. According to Al Jazeera, the US Government report showed a $112m rise in sales to Bahrain, much of it involving aircraft and military electronics. The US also licensed $760,000 in exports of rifles, shotguns and assault weapons in 2010. US military exports to Bahrain in 2009 totaled $88m.
Bahrain, a tiny island nation that is home to the US Navy’s 5th Fleet, occupies a strategic position in White House priorities. That position is enhanced by Bahrain’s proximity to the oil field of East Saudi Arabia. Saudi troops have been assistant Bahraini authorities in putting down the demonstrations.
Since mid-February, the kingdom has confronted demonstrators with cordons of armed military and police firing live ammunition. At least 31 people have died and hundreds more have been injured in the clashes. […]
The Crown Prince of Bahrain has visited President Obama and State Department officials recently, complaining he was worried about Bahrain’s “image” for tourism. The country has recently retained the services of two high-profile US-based public relations firms to represent it. […]
Reuters reports that the possibility that American-built weapons might have been used against protesters has raised questions in the US Congress and led the department to review its defense trade relationships with several Middle East nations.
The Obama administration has been virtually silent on the subject of Bahrain. It has criticized the use of violence against dissenters by police and military units but has not exacted specific repercussions against Bahrain’s government.
I’m guessing this was a soothing salve for this thorn. “You keep mum and help us suppress our Shia ‘problem’ and we’ll look the other way”.
Saudi King Abdullah announced Sunday that the nation’s women will gain the right to vote and run as candidates in local elections to be held in 2015 in a major advancement for the rights of women in the deeply conservative Muslim kingdom.
In an annual speech before his advisory assembly, or Shura Council, the Saudi monarch said he ordered the step after consulting with the nation’s top religious clerics, whose advice carries great weight in the kingdom…
The right to vote is by far the biggest change introduced by Abdullah, considered a reformer, since he became the country’s de facto ruler in 1995…
The United States must back a Palestinian bid for UN recognition of statehood or risk becoming “toxic” in the Arab world and forcing a split with ally Saudi Arabia, a top Saudi diplomat warned Monday.
If Washington imposes its veto when the Palestinians seek to become the 194th member state of the United Nations then “Saudi Arabia would no longer be able to cooperate with America in the same way it historically has,” former Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Turki al-Faisal wrote.
He warned in a commentary in the The New York Times that a US veto would see American influence decline, “Israeli security undermined and Iran will be empowered, increasing the chances of another war in the region.”
“The ‘special relationship’ between Saudi Arabia and the United States would increasingly be seen as toxic by the vast majority of Arabs and Muslims, who demand justice for the Palestinian people.”
Saudi leaders would be forced therefore to “adopt a more independent and assertive regional policy,” he warned, pointing to such incidents as Riyadh’s recent military intervention in Bahrain.
The US has historically supported the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, but the Saudi’s are a powerful Ally in the region. Will their objection be enough to sway US policy?
Nathalie Morin, a Canadian and a Quebecor, is being held against her will in Saudi Arabia, and is unable to leave the Muslim nation simply because she is a woman. Morin, along with her two children Samir and Abdullah, is a virtual captive in her own home due to her husband Saeed Al Sharahni forbidding her from leaving. Under Saudi law, which derives from the strict Islamic Sharia principles, she is the property of her husband and must have his permission in order to leave the country.
This is an issue of basic civil rights. No woman is the property of her husband, or of any other man. Free Nathalie Morin! Sign the petition, everyone!
My Saudi friend says these laws were enacted or became more active relatively recently after a couple of girls from well to do very powerful families traveled to France and then stayed.
But for another example of how little freedom women in Saudi Arabia have — my friend who is not married, got a job in an other town, in order to for her to work, her parents had to move with her to the new town.