…from beneath the crooked bough, witness 230 years of brutal tyranny by the al Khalifas come to an end
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Obama uses ‘safety in numbers’ ploy to steer clear of Rights critics to move Weapons

Obama Issues Directive to Sell Weapons to GCC
By ZACHARY FRYER-BIGGS and AWAD MUSTAFA – 18 December, 2013 – Defense NEws

WASHINGTON AND DUBAI — The White House this week issued a presidential determination to facilitate the sale of weapons to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

The move by the Obama administration shows the rapid development in events since Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced plans this month in Bahrain to sell weapons to the Gulf Cooperation Council as a block, as opposed to selling to individual nations within the council.

According to the document issued Monday, the White House wants to confirm the eligibility of the Gulf Cooperation Council to receive defense articles and defense services under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and the Arms Export Control Act.

“I hereby find that the furnishing of defense articles and defense services to the Gulf Cooperation Council will strengthen the security of the United States and promote world peace,” the document stated.

The move by the White House follows last week’s announcement at the GCC Summit in Kuwait to establish a Joint GCC Military Command.

According to a State Department official, the GCC is being designated for future sales, however, congressional approval has yet to be established when deals flow to Congress.

On Dec. 7, in Manama, Hagel said the Pentagon “will better integrate with GCC members to enhance missile defense capabilities in the region,” adding “the United States continues to believe that a multilateral approach is the best answer for missile defense.”

Officials at the State Department said that over the past several years, the US and the GCC have explored ways to expand multilateral defense cooperation in response to evolving regional security challenges.

“The United States and the GCC agree on the strategic imperative to building better multilateral defense ties as a complement to the strong bilateral relationships the US has with gulf partner states,” the State Department added. …more

December 21, 2013   No Comments

PM Cameron Prostitutes BAE Weapons deal in “quid quo pro” for silence on Bahrain Rights Abuse

BAE: Bahrain eyes Eurofighter
8 August, 2013 – Ma’an New

LONDON, England (AFP) — Bahrain is interested in buying the Eurofighter Typhoon jet, British defense group BAE Systems said on Wednesday.

“Bahrain has expressed an interest in Typhoon and the UK government is leading very early discussions. BAE Systems is supporting the UK government in these discussions,” a BAE Systems spokeswoman said.

Bahrain’s King Hamad held talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron in London on Tuesday.

The Eurofighter Typhoon is made by BAE Systems in a consortium with the European airspace groups EADS and Finmeccanica of Italy.

BAE and Saudi Arabia signed a £4.5-billion ($7.0-billion) deal in 2007 to supply seventy-two Eurofighter Typhoon jets to Riyadh, but the contract has faced obstacles over the cost.

Oman, a Gulf state which like Bahrain has close links to Britain, ordered twelve of the jets last year.

BAE Systems also hopes to sell sixty of the jets to the United Arab Emirates, where it is facing competition from the Rafale jet made by France’s Dassault Aviation.

Bahrain has been rocked by Shiite-led protests since 2011, which has forced its allies such as Britain to review the defense equipment that it exports to the Gulf state.…more

August 8, 2013   No Comments

Capitialist Crash in Europe leaves blood stained trail of Weapons and Corruption

Europe’s guns, debt and corruption
Frank Slijper – 27 April, 2013 – Open Democracy

This second of two essays on military spending and the EU crisis, explores the role of the European arms trade, corruption and the role of arms exporting countries in fuelling a debt crisis, and why these ‘odious’ debts need to be written off. See Part One here.

As social infrastructure is being slashed throughout most of Europe, spending on weapon systems has hardly been reduced. Perversely, military lobbyists warn of ‘disaster’ if any further cuts are made to military spending. But the real disaster has emerged from years of high military spending and corrupt arms deals. See Part One: Austerity in Europe: tighten the military belt

As we saw in the previous part, despite rhetoric from military bigwigs claiming that any further military cuts would endanger not only national security, but also the economy, military spending in Europe today is still at a higher level than ten years ago.

It rose over most of the past decade, sometimes very strongly – double digits in the case of Greece, Finland and Cyprus – only to fall over the past two or three years, and only in countries hardest hit by the crisis, like Greece and Italy.

Against the background of heavy slashing of social infrastructure, that was the least that could be expected. But most of those cuts come years too late, especially because major arms programmes have financial repercussions for many years to come: both repayment of debts and operational costs burden future governments’ budgets for many years.

So, wherever military expenditure has been cut, it was mostly on personnel costs – pensions, wages, jobs – rather than budgets for new weapons bought. Perversely, despite the emerging economic crisis the average budget for equipment in Europe went up 10% between 2006 and 2010. And that’s of course where the arms industry comes in. …more

May 1, 2013   No Comments

Another Supplier of Regime Weapons of Brutality Identified

Report-Bahrain: Imports Repressive Arms from Korea
12 January, 2013 – Bahrian Youth Society for Human Rights

The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) has monitored during the past year 2012 the intense use of tear-gas and stun grenades against protestors in Bahrain, and according to the documentation of the BYSHR and international organizations, the use of tear-gas led to the death of at least 20 people, where the security forces used it as a killing device:

1. Security forces deliberately throw tear-gas canisters inside or near houses.

2. Security forces deliberately throw teargas canisters inside or near cars.

3. Security forces deliberately throw teargas canisters inside cramped areas.

Prohibiting repressive arms:

The BYSHR monitored statements of officials from “the U.S, U.K, Belgium and France” that they stopped selling arms that are used for suppressing protests in Bahrain since 2011 due the human rights violations and its misuse by the riot police.

Buying repressive arms:

Since the Bahraini Authorities started using various and new kinds of teargas and stun grenades; the source of those repressive arms could not be found due to the following reasons:

1. Lack of information on the teargas canisters or stun grenades (manufacturing country, expiry date, methods of use);

2. The Bahraini Authorities does not allow public opinion to access information that is considered military;
However, a group of activists and the BYSHR were able to obtain information related to the (manufacturing country, and the side effects) as well as the method of using stun grenades and teargas.

The (DAEKWANG) Korean Company is considered the lead supplier of teargas and stun grenades since approximately a year and a half ago “after the February 2011 protests”. The company exports its products to the most suppressive countries – according to the website – such as Syria and Saudi Arabia. ( Company website: www.teargas.kr) …more

January 15, 2013   No Comments

Use with Lethal Intent of Less-than-lethal Weapons – Standard Method of Operation by Bahrain Secuirty Forces

June 28, 2012   No Comments

US Arms Sale to Bahrain accentuates Washington greed and eagerness to placate Saudi partners

U.S. Arms Sale Sends Wrong Signal to Bahrain, Groups Say
By Jim Lobe – 14 May, 2012 – IPS

WASHINGTON, (IPS) – The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama is sending the wrong signal to the government of Bahrain in proceeding with a partial sale of new arms to Manama, according to human rights activists and some lawmakers here.

Their reaction followed Friday’s announcement by the State Department that it had cleared a number of items for transfer out of a 53- million-dollar arms package that the administration originally announced last September but subsequently held up due to opposition from key members of Congress.

In announcing what it called the “renewal of U.S. security cooperation with Bahrain”, the State Department stressed that none of the weapons approved for transfer could be used in the kingdom’s ongoing efforts to suppress growing unrest on the island, especially among its majority Shi’a community.

Demonstrations have been taking place on an almost nightly basis in Shi’a villages in recent weeks and have increased in violence, with some youths throwing Molotov cocktails at police, and with police firing tear gas and birdshot to disperse the protests, with sometimes fatal results.

“Given the continued deterioration in the human rights situation there, we think it’s a bad call to be releasing arms – any sort of arms – to Bahrain at this time,” Joe Stork, a veteran Middle East specialist at Human Rights Watch (HRW), told IPS.

“We’re very concerned with the signal that this sends both to the Bahraini government and the Bahraini people,” said Stephen McInerney, executive director of the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED).

“And we’re very disappointed that this announcement was not accompanied by an announcement of any real progress on reform issues, including the numerous recommendations made by the Bassiouni Commission that have yet to be implemented,” he said.

He was referring to the Bahraini Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) that was chaired by the noted Egyptian-American jurist, Cherif Bassiouni and which last November issued a nearly 500-page report on serious human rights abuses committed by government forces during its Saudi-backed crackdown against the pro-democracy movement last winter and spring. …more

May 15, 2012   No Comments

US, UK, Russia fuel misery and brutality by weapons profiteering in the Middle East

Rights groups say situation in flashpoint country is being ignored while ‘commercial interests’ are put first

UK accused of ‘double standards’ over weapons exports to Bahrain
30 March, 2012 – The Independent – Alistair Dawber

A Bahraini human rights organisation has issued a stinging rebuke of Western governments and their attitudes to what it describes as a desperate situation in the country, saying that many are putting commercial interests ahead of human rights.

On Wednesday, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) was among the winners at the Index for Censorship awards ceremony, and yesterday it reiterated its case that the situation in the tiny Gulf state was being ignored.

“It is largely about arms sales,” said Maryam Al-Khawaja, head of the BCHR’s international operations. “The West is guilty of double standards. The US, UK and France attack Russia for providing weapons to Syria, but that’s exactly what they are doing for the Bahrain government; Russia is criticised for a naval base in Syria, but the US has one here.

“How can it be that bodies like the UN intervene in Libya and openly talk about backing those wanting greater freedoms in Syria when the intervention here is on the behalf of those that continue to crack down on these demands?”

In February last year, at the height of the unrest, the British Government said it would review arms exports to Bahrain, which at the time included crowd control measures such as “CS hand grenades, demolition charges, smoke canisters and thunderflashes”.

According to research by the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, several licences were granted for arms exports, including in February and March 2011, and during the height of the violence. In April last year, an export licence for “training hand grenades” worth more than £70,000 was issued, and was followed later in the year by licences for the sale of “body armour” “gun silencers” and “weapons sights”. …more

March 29, 2012   No Comments

US Dumps Arms in Middle East

February 17, 2012   No Comments

UK throws in with regime to brutalize Democracy Advocates

Bahrain receives military equipment from UK despite violent crackdown
14 February, 2012 – Shia Post

Britain has continued to sell arms to Bahrain despite continuing political unrest in the Gulf state, new official figures disclose.

According to the figures the government approved the sale of military equipment valued at more than £1m in the months following the violent crackdown on demonstrators a year ago. They included licences for gun silencers, weapons sights, rifles, artillery and components for military training aircraft.

Also cleared for export to Bahrain between July and September last year were naval guns and components for detecting and jamming improvised explosive devices. No export licences were refused.

Security forces in Bahrain fired teargas and stun grenades at protesters in pre-dawn skirmishes before Tuesday’s first anniversary of the uprising in the Gulf kingdom. Armoured vehicles patrolled the capital, Manama, in a security clampdown after protesters flung volleys of petrol bombs at police cars. There was also a massive police presence in Shia Muslim villages ringing Manama, with helicopters buzzing overhead, underlining the concerns of the Sunni-Muslim-led monarchy about a new explosion of civil unrest by Bahrain’s disgruntled Shia majority.

After the exposure a year ago of Britain’s approval of arms sales, including crowd control equipment, guns, and ammunition to Bahrain, Libya and Egypt, the government revoked 158 export licences, including 44 covering military exports to Bahrain.

The latest figures, published on the Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills website, also show that during the third quarter of last year Britain exported arms valued at more than £1m to Saudi Arabia, including components for military combat vehicles and turrets. During last year’s uprising, Saudi Arabia sent forces to Bahrain in British military trucks.

Britain also supplied equipment, including components for military combat vehicles, weapons night sights, communications and rangefinding, valued at more than £1m, to Egypt’s armed forces.

Vince Cable, the business secretary, admitted to a committee of MPs last week: “We do trade with governments that are not democratic and have bad human rights records … We do business with repressive governments and there’s no denying that.”

He was giving evidence to the Commons committee on arms export controls whose chairman, the former Conservative defence minister Sir John Stanley, accused the government of adopting a “rosy-tinted” and “over-optimistic” approach to authoritarian regimes. …more

February 14, 2012   No Comments

Iran must be invading, surely King Hamad wouldn’t be using these weapons on civilians, would they Secretary Clinton?

February 14, 2012   No Comments

Secretary Clinton it looks like King Hamad has plenty of weapons to use against “external threats”, do we really need to sell him more?

February 14, 2012   No Comments

President Obama this APC is deployed against a Village today, was this one of the weapons to be use for “external threats” only?

February 14, 2012   No Comments

Obama takes a Bow as Worlds Weapons Pimp

Thomas Carothers is vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the author of the report “Democracy Promotion Under Obama: Revitalization or Retreat?”

Washington’s bow to Mideast monarchs
By Thomas Carothers – 04 February, 2012 – Washington Post

Just after the first anniversary of the onset of the Arab Spring, the Obama administration announced in December an enormous arms sale to Saudi Arabia, with a price tag greater than the annual gross domestic product of more than half the countries in the world. The administration hailed the sale as a “historic achievement” that “reinforces the strong and enduring relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia.” The close juxtaposition of the anniversary and the apparent repair of the temporary rough patch in U.S.-Saudi relations highlights crucial overlooked realities about the Arab Spring and the U.S. response.

Although accounts of the Arab Spring often refer to a wave of political change washing across the Middle East, the reality is otherwise. The wave has bisected the region, swamping one half while leaving the other barely damp. Governments in the majority of the region’s republics, namely Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria and Yemen, have been toppled or have faced serious domestic siege. In startling contrast, however, all of the region’s monarchies appear secure, with the possible exception of Bahrain. Most have enough oil money to keep their citizens well off, and some have a special religious legitimacy.

We should keep in mind that the various autocrats in the region who fell from power last year also looked to be well-entrenched, for all sorts of solid and frequently elaborated reasons, right up until the moment they no longer were. In this time of political surprises, which often stem from sudden, roiling popular protests, betting on reliable autocrats is more perilous than ever.

President Obama says that he recognizes this reality. He declared in May that “after decades of accepting the world as it is in the region, we have a chance to pursue the world as it should be” and that it will be “the policy of the United States to promote reform across the region.” And it is true that where political upheaval has hit, the United States has usually backed democratic change, sometimes actively, as in Libya; sometimes hesitantly, as in Egypt. But where autocratic stability continues to reign, the administration sticks to the decades-old U.S. policy of uncritical support for friendly dictators who are helpful on matters of security and economics.

When the government of Bahrain cracked down harshly on the massive protest movement within its borders last spring, the administration basically folded. The United States was unwilling to risk jeopardizing the convenient Persian Gulf home of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet for the sake of its commitment to Arab democracy. Saudi Arabia’s military participation in Bahrain’s crackdown and its steadfast opposition to even a glimmer of liberalization within its own borders has not deterred the administration from enthusiastically reaffirming the intimacy of U.S.-Saudi ties. Consider also that, despite having taken no serious steps toward democratic reform in response to popular demands for change, Jordan’s King Abdullah has received only praise and aid from Washington. ...more

February 4, 2012   No Comments

Great Depressions, Greed, Weapons and Jobs – And a President up for Reelection

Amazingly, the Nye Committee in the U.S. Senate devoted 93 hearings from 1934 to 1936 to exposing America’s own “greedy munitions interests.” Even in those desperate depression days, a desire for profit and jobs was balanced by a strong sense of unease at this deadly trade, an unease reinforced by the horrors of and hecatombs of dead from the First World War.

Weapons ‘R’ Us
Making Warbirds instead of Thunderbirds
31 January, 2012 – by William J Astore – Le Monde diplomatique

Perhaps you’ve heard of “Makin’ Thunderbirds,” a hard-bitten rock & roll song by Bob Seger that I listened to 30 years ago while in college. It’s about auto workers back in 1955 who were “young and proud” to be making Ford Thunderbirds. But in the early 1980s, Seger sings, “the plants have changed and you’re lucky if you work.” Seger caught the reality of an American manufacturing infrastructure that was seriously eroding as skilled and good-paying union jobs were cut or sent overseas, rarely to be seen again in these parts.

If the U.S. auto industry has recently shown sparks of new life (though we’re not making T-Birds or Mercuries or Oldsmobiles or Pontiacs or Saturns anymore), there is one form of manufacturing in which America is still dominant. When it comes to weaponry, to paraphrase Seger, we’re still young and proud and makin’ Predators and Reapers (as in unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones) and Eagles and Fighting Falcons (as in F-15 and F-16 combat jets), and outfitting them with the deadliest of weapons. In this market niche, we’re still the envy of the world.

Yes, we’re the world’s foremost “merchants of death,” the title of a best-selling exposé of the international arms trade published to acclaim in the U.S. in 1934. Back then, most Americans saw themselves as war-avoiders rather than as war-profiteers. The evil war-profiteers were mainly European arms makers like Germany’s Krupp, France’s Schneider, or Britain’s Vickers.

Not that America didn’t have its own arms merchants. As the authors of Merchants of Death noted, early on our country demonstrated a “Yankee propensity for extracting novel death-dealing knickknacks from [our] peddler’s pack.” Amazingly, the Nye Committee in the U.S. Senate devoted 93 hearings from 1934 to 1936 to exposing America’s own “greedy munitions interests.” Even in those desperate depression days, a desire for profit and jobs was balanced by a strong sense of unease at this deadly trade, an unease reinforced by the horrors of and hecatombs of dead from the First World War. …more

January 31, 2012   No Comments

Outcry over the idiocy of Obama’s weapons greed in Bahrain

Rights Groups Oppose Smaller Arms Transfer
By Jim Lobe -30 January, 2012 – IPS

WASHINGTON, Jan 30, 2012 (IPS) – The decision by the administration of President Barack Obama to approve limited transfers of military equipment to Bahrain is coming under renewed fire by human rights and pro-democracy groups here.

The groups, as well as a number of lawmakers who have opposed renewed arms transfers to Bahrain, are demanding that the administration publicly disclose precisely what it intends to provide the Gulf kingdom.

And they are warning that any military transfers at this time will almost certainly be seen by pro-democracy opposition forces as support for a repressive regime.

“Even a limited sale of military items to the Bahraini government sends the wrong message,” said David Kramer, the president of Freedom House, a pro-democracy group that receives support from the Congressionally funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

“Until the Bahraini government ends systemic human rights abuses, allows unfettered access to media and international organisations, and begins implementing meaningful political reform, the United States should not consider the sale of any military items,” Kramer said Monday.

Other groups were slightly more circumspect. “Because the details (of the sale) are secret, it is difficult to independent determine whether the U.S. government is providing the kinds of weapons and ammunition, and/or equipment that Bahraini security forces could use in the commission of further human rights violations,” according to Sanjeev Bery, advocacy director for the Middle East at Amnesty International’s office here.

“At a time when Bahrainis are experiencing human rights violations at home, it doesn’t look good to be handing their government additional military equipment,” he added, noting the deaths in January of as many as nine Bahrainis from tear-gas inhalation or being struck by tear-gas canisters at close range.

Longstanding relationships between Washington and the militaries of friendly but repressive governments during the so-called “Arab Spring” over the past year have become increasingly problematic. …more

January 31, 2012   No Comments

Wyden and McGovern demonstrate courage and call Obama to account for backdoor weapons dealing to abusive regime – Obama should disclose contents of planned weapons transfer, especially riot control agents(including gas), small arms and other LTL weapons

US sale of some military items to Bahrain draws congressional opposition
By Associated Press, 30 January 30, 2012 – Washington Post

WASHINGTON — The United States is selling some military equipment to Bahrain as it walks a fine line between pushing the Sunni monarchy to open talks with the opposition while proceeding cautiously with a strategic ally to counter Iran.

The sale of an undisclosed amount of spare parts and equipment has drawn opposition from some in Congress who argue that it sends the wrong signal about the U.S. commitment to human rights. The State Department said late Friday that the equipment is for Bahrain’s external defense and support for the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, which is based in the country.

“This isn’t a new sale nor are we using a legal loophole,” the department said. “The items that we briefed to Congress were notified and cleared by the Hill previously or are not large enough to require congressional notification.”

The administration said it is maintaining its “pause on most security assistance for Bahrain pending further progress on reform.”

It was almost a year ago that Bahrain’s Shiite majority demanded greater rights from the 200-year-old ruling Sunni dynasty. More than 35 people have died in the unrest that Bahrain leaders claim Iran has encouraged.

The United States sees its allies in the Persian Gulf region as particularly crucial after Iran warned it might use military force to close the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the gulf in response to international economic sanctions.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., collected signatures from lawmakers on a letter they plan to send to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton later this week expressing their opposition to the administration’s moves. They argue that Bahrain is still violating human rights and using excessive force to crack down on protests.

“Small steps deserve small rewards,” the two wrote. “In the case of Bahrain, any military equipment is a big reward and will be viewed as such by other governments and the people of Bahrain. The incentives are simply wrong.” …source

January 30, 2012   No Comments

Questions to President Obama regarding Weapons for Bahrain

Isaiah 29:15-16 – woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans, who do their work in darkness and think, “Who sees us? Who will know?” they turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay!… Can the pot say of the potter, “He knows nothing?”

U.S. Arms Sales to Bahrain: 4 Questions for the Obama Administration
by: Sanjeev Bery – 30 January, 2012 – Human Rights Now

As I wrote on Saturday, the Obama Administration has authorized a new U.S. arms sale to the Bahraini monarchy. This comes just months after a Congressional and public outcry that led the administration to suspend a prior $53 million arms sale to Bahrain.

Members of Congress, journalists, and Amnesty International were all outraged over the last proposed arms sale. That’s because Bahraini protesters continue to be tear gassed, beaten, and even killed while exercising their human rights of free speech and association – rights that include the freedom to criticize one’s government.

Regarding this new arms sale, here are the top four questions that the Obama administration must answer immediately:

1. Why was the arms sale kept secret from the public?

Josh Rogin at Foreign Policy leaked the news of the arms sale on Friday. He also reported that U.S. arms sales under $1 million don’t have to be publicly disclosed. So the Obama administration didn’t publicly mention it. But why? At a time when the Bahraini government continues to crack down on protesters, why did the Obama administration keep the contents of this arms sale — or multiple arms sales – secret?

2. What is in the arms sale?

U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said that the arms sale “includes spare parts,” arms for Bahrain’s “external defense”, and that “none of these items can be used against protesters.” But the last time the U.S. State Department said that arms were being sold to Bahrain for “external defense” – the arms package contained humvees. This came after the Bahraini government had already used tanks to surround a hospital where wounded protestors had been treated. The public needs to know what the Obama administration is selling to Bahrain. Ammunition? Replacement parts for ships? Vehicles to transport soldiers? Landing gear for cargo planes? Tanks?

3. How many secret arms sales are there?

In his above mentioned piece, Rogin implied that the Obama administration could hypothetically turn the suspended $53 million arms sale into 53 or more separate arms sales under $1 million each — and that none of them would have to be reported. Is that what is happening? How many unreported U.S. arms sales to Bahrain are happening now — or are slated to happen in the future?

4. How does this secret arms sale square with the President’s State of the Union address?

In his State of the Union address last week, President Obama referred to the “wave of change” in the Middle East. He also described what U.S. foreign policy would be: “We will stand against violence and intimidation. We will stand for the rights and dignity of all human beings –- men and women; Christians, Muslims and Jews.”

It remains to be seen what is in this latest arms sale (or sales) to Bahrain. But at a time when Bahrainis are experiencing human rights violations at home, it doesn’t look good to be handing their government additional military equipment. …more

January 30, 2012   No Comments

Saudi King Abdullah and Bahrain King Hamad, read President Obama’s unrestrained weapons dealing to Saudi Arabia as green light to Human Rights Abuse

There are good reasons not only for the media, but for western governments to begin taking an active interest in the ongoing street conflict in Eastern Province

The quiet war in Saudi Arabia
by Joshua Jacobs – 15 January 2012 – Open Democracy

While western powers have been happy to use Saudi Arabia as an ally to ratchet up the pressure on Assad’s beleaguered regime in Syria, it has not caught a whiff of the silent crackdown occurring within the kingdom. Since late November the protest movement which was largely snuffed out last spring has returned to the streets in force, largely centered on the oil rich and largely Shia Eastern Province.

The Saudi response was both brutal and predictable. Security forces shot and killed three protesters and wounded many more over several days of crackdowns in the eastern city of Qatif. Clashes continued throughout December as demonstrators battled security forces who routinely utilized live ammunition. In a series of retaliatory raids on the homes and districts of protest sympathizers hundreds were arrested and wounded. The killings along with the continued discrimination and mistreatment of the Shia of the Eastern Province has formed the basis of the current protest movement – a protest movement that has suffered heavily like its neighbour in Bahrain, but with little in the way of a headline.

Today, while attention was focused on the Strait of Hormuz, on Syria, and on the rising tensions in Bahrain, Saudi security forces launched an assault on the city of Awamiyah killing at least one and wounding half a dozen more. Eye witnesses have stated that soldiers on trucks opened fire on demonstrators, hitting many as they fled. The attack bears all the hallmarks of a planned operation with electricity being cut to the area prior to the assault. The area at the time of writing is apparently still under military lock-down and reflects a state of siege with clashes continuing to occur and gunfire being heard.

This attack was almost certainly condoned by the royal family and comes on the heels of a series of indictments against demonstrators and high profile invectives against the protest movement. Despite this attack and others like it, the rumblings and tremors of protest and crackdown show no sign of abatement. Indeed in the past few months they have once again reared their head in the south west in Najran and Jazan, compounded with protests over women’s rights in Riyadh and Buraydah.

These protests bear all the hallmarks of a movement which could coalesce and burst anew from the ashes of the disjointed and largely suppressed protests of last spring. They also come at an extremely troubling time for the kingdom. The death of Crown Prince Sultan highlighted the geriatric character of the upper echelons of the ruling family, and the potential uncertainty and disquiet surrounding the issue of succession. Meanwhile, continuing tensions in the Strait of Hormuz and rising furor on the streets of Bahrain open up the risk of unrest spreading to the kingdom in a domino effect. Indeed the extremely aggressive Saudi position on Bahrain and the continued quartering of troops in the tiny island monarchy has a direct relationship to their fears of domestic instability. The possibility of Saudi Shia rallying on behalf of their co-religionists in Bahrain, or vice versa is a looming threat that the Saudis are taking great pains to neutralize. …more

January 17, 2012   No Comments

Global Weapons Sales, like Human Rights Matter

Naperville, IL — (SBWIRE) — 01/09/2012 — Reportstack, provider of premium market research reports announces the addition of The Saudi Arabian Defense Industry – Market Opportunities and Entry Strategies, Analyses and Forecasts to 2016 market report to its offering

The Saudi Arabian defense industry valued US$48 billion in 2011 and is one of the largest defense markets globally. During the review period, the country’s defense expenditure grew at a CAGR of 7.83%, and is expected to record a CAGR of 5.44 % over the forecast period, to value US$62.4 billion by 2016. The key drivers of such expenditure growth include increases in cross-border insurgency, domestic unease with the ruling regime, the rising number of Al Qaeda training camps in the country, an increasing focus on infrastructure security regarding oil and a regional rivalry with Iran to emerge as the most influential nation in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia’s substantial defense budget, coupled with the limited capabilities of domestic defense firms, is attracting foreign OEMs into the market.

January 13, 2012   No Comments

Sacrificing Principle to Expediency – The Arms Merchants

Sacrificing Principle to Expediency – The Arms Merchants
by CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI – 08 January, 2012

Arms sales are not as straightforward as one might think. For one thing, Russia and the United States are both eager to maintain their respective positions as the most successful merchants of death dealing devices. That causes them to sacrifice principle to expediency. And there’s a good reason why they are eager to sell lots of arms. It boosts their respective economies. And times were bad in 2010 and needed a boost in 2011.

In 2010 worldwide arms sales dropped by 38 percent from their 2009 levels to the lowest levels since 2003. In 2009 $65.2 billion in worldwide arms sales agreements were signed compared with $40.4 billion in 2010. Of those amounts the U.S. had $21.3 billion in arms sales whereas Russia had only $7.8 billion. Happily, 2011 turns out to have been a much better year. Projections for Russian arms sales for 2011 were more than $9 billion and by year’s end it had contracts to sell approximately $3.8 billion in arms to Syria.

The United States is not happy that Russia is supplying arms to Syria, a country of whose leader, Bashar al-Assad, the United States and other Western leaders strongly disapprove. Commenting on Russia’s selling arms to Syria, Secretary of State Clinton said in August 2011: “We want to see Russia cease selling arms to the Assad regime.” Russia is unaffected by her comments. It knows that to remain competitive with the United States in the arms sale competition it needs to sell arms wherever there’s a market. Since the United States is more principled than Russia, it does not sell arms to Syria. Instead it sells them to countries that it thinks are in tune with its goals on the international stage-like Iraq.

Iraq is the country the United States devastated in order to help it out. Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is its Prime Minister and we are happy to sell him arms. At the end of December 2011 it was disclosed that we were selling the Iraqi military about $11 billion worth of arms and training. We sell to Iraq because it is our friend. We refuse to sell to Mr. Assad because he is not our friend. Mr. Maliki, has let it be known that he supports President Assad even though Mr. Assad is busy slaughtering his citizens in order to keep them in line. Mr. Maliki supports Mr. Assad because Iran, a country to which the United States has not sold arms since Mr. Reagan was president, encouraged Mr. Maliki to befriend Syria. So now the United States is arming Iraq which is allying itself with Iran and supports Syria whom the U.S. thinks Russia should not arm.

A few weeks ago it was disclosed that that United States had put on hold a planned sale of $53 million of arms to the Kingdom of Bahrain. Bahrain has proved itself a good friend of the United States since it is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet. Bahrain’s ruthless ruler is King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. He brutally put down an Arab spring uprising that took place in Bahrain beginning on Valentine’s Day in 2011. More than 40 of those participating in the uprising were killed by the King’s forces. Thousands more were imprisoned and brutalized. When news of the proposed arms sale reached members of the United States Congress, they demanded that the sale be put on hold pending a detailed report of what went on during the uprising to determine whether an arms sale to Bahrain was appropriate. As a result, the arms sale has not yet taken place.

King Hamad was aided by Saudi Arabia in putting down the uprising. According to a March 15, 2011 report in the Los Angeles Times, one month after the revolt began, “hundreds of troops from Saudi Arabia and police officers from the nearby United Arab Emirates. . . entered Bahrain at the request of the ruling family. . . .” to help put down the uprising.

On Christmas Eve it was announced that the administration would sell $30 billion in fighter jets and other arms to Saudi Arabia. This was part of a $60 billion arms sale that was approved by Congress in October 2010. Although the sale to Bahrain was put on hold, there was no need to put the sale to Saudi Arabia on hold since it is a REALLY good friend to the U.S. even though it helped King Hamad put down the uprising in his country. …more

January 10, 2012   No Comments

Obama secures electoral success, lines the pockets of US Military Industrial Profiteers, affirms “friendly” tyrants and human rights abusers

Arms dealer Obama will win by default
07 January, 2012 – by Robert Scheer – paragould daily press

Barack Obama will be re-elected not as a vindication of his policies but because the Republicans are incapable of providing a reasonable challenge to his flawed performance. On the central issue of our time — reining in the greed of the multinational corporations, led by the financial sector and the defense industry — a Republican presidential victor, with the possible exception of the now-sidelined Ron Paul, would do far less to challenge the kleptocracy of corporate-dominated governance.

As compared to front-runner Mitt Romney, who wants to derail even Obama’s tepid efforts at regulating Wall Street and who seeks ever more wasteful increases in military spending, the incumbent president appears relatively enlightened. But that is cold comfort.

Not only has Obama been a savior of the banking conglomerates that so generously financed his campaign, but he also has proved to be equally as solicitous of the needs of the military-industrial complex. He entered his re-election year by signing a $662 billion defense authorization bill that strips away some of our most fundamental liberties and keeps military spending at Cold War levels and by approving a $60 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

Those two actions represent an obvious contradiction, since the attack on American soil that kept defense spending so high in the post-9/11 decade was carried out by 15 Saudis and four other men directed by Osama bin Laden, a wealthy Saudi primarily using funding from his native land. Now Saudi Arabia is to be protected as a holdout against the democratic impulse of the Arab Spring because it is our ally against Iran, a nation that had nothing to do with 9/11. Saudi Arabia, it should be recalled, was one of only three nations, along with the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan, to recognize the Taliban government that harbored bin Laden before 9/11.

This is the same Saudi monarchy that rushed its forces into Bahrain last March to crush a popular uprising. But that doesn’t trouble the Obama administration; for two years it has been aggressively pushing the Saudi arms deal, which includes $30 billion in fighter jets built by Boeing. Forget human rights or the other good stuff Democrats love to prattle on about. As White House spokesman Josh Earnest put it, “This agreement reinforces the strong and enduring relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia and demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a strong Saudi defense capability as a key component to regional security.”

The rationale for the first big arms deal since 1992 with the tyrannical Saudi monarchy is that a better-armed Sunni theocracy is needed to counter the threat from the Shiite theocracy in Iran. Once again, the U.S. is stoking religious-based fratricide, just as we did in Iraq. Only this time, we’re on the side of Saudi Sunnis oppressing Shiites both at home and in neighboring Bahrain. That oppression — along with a U.S. invasion that replaced Tehran’s sworn enemy in Sunni-led Baghdad with a Shiite leadership that had long been nurtured by Iran’s ayatollahs — is what enhances the regional influence of Iran. …more

January 10, 2012   No Comments

USA Inc. greasing public relations works to close Obama-Clinton weapons deal with Bahrain – Obama’s jobs program arming the world

Lockheed Martin goes to bat for oppressive regime
A top executive for the military contractor worked with lobbyists for Bahrain to publish Op-Ed defending the regime
By Justin Elliott – 4 January, 2012 – Salon

A top executive at Lockheed Martin recently worked with lobbyists for Bahrain to place an Op-Ed defending the nation’s embattled regime in the Washington Times — but the newspaper did not reveal the role of the regime’s lobbyists to its readers. Hence they did not know that the pro-Bahrain opinion column they were reading was published at the behest of … Bahrain, an oil-rich kingdom of 1.2 million people that has been rocked by popular protests since early 2011.

The episode is a glimpse into the usually hidden world of how Washington’s Op-Ed pages, which are prized real estate for those with interests before the U.S. government, are shaped. It also shows how Lockheed gave an assist to a major client — Bahrain has bought hundreds of millions of dollars of weapons from the company over the years – as it faces widespread criticism for human rights abuses against pro-democracy protesters.

As Ken Silverstein reported in Salon last month, the kingdom is stepping up its Washington lobbying efforts. Here’s the latest example, as far as I can piece together from lobbying disclosures filed by Bahrain’s “strategic communications” firm, D.C.-based Sanitas International.

On Nov. 30, the Washington Times published an Op-Ed under the headline “Bahrain, a vital U.S. ally: Backing protesters would betray a friend and harm American security.” It was written by Vice Adm. Charles Moore (retired). Moore was formerly commander of the Navy’s Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet. From 1998 to 2002, Moore notes in his Op-Ed, he “had the opportunity to develop a personal relationship with His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Bahrain’s leader, as well as many senior officials in his government.” Moore passed through the revolving door and is now regional president for Lockheed Martin for the Middle East and Africa.

Moore argues in the Op-Ed that while protesters in Bahrain have “legitimate grievances,” the U.S. “needs Bahrain now more than ever to preserve regional peace and stability in what remains a dangerous and uncertain world.” He particularly focuses on using the large U.S. Navy presence in Bahrain as a counter to Iran, which Washington sees as a foe and which Bahrain claims is fomenting unrest among the country’s Shia majority. …more

January 4, 2012   No Comments

What Next in Bahrain? US, UN, compliance program, absent opposition participation, to green light weapons sales and punk Wyden

What Next in Bahrain? More U.S. Silence
December 7, 2011 – The Trench

After successfully delaying a proposed arms shipment until the release of Bahrain’s “Independent Commission of Inquiry” (BICI), Senator Ron Wyden has made sure to keep his low-wattage spotlight on the island nation. Speaking at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington D.C., the Senator articulated a red-line that few U.S. officials are willing to go near.

“Imagine if everyone in Congress had kept quiet and this arms sale had been completed,” Wyden asked his audience in Kenney Auditorium. “What kind of message would this have sent the world or to the people aspiring for freedom and democracy? America should NOT be rewarding brutal regimes with arms. It’s that simple.”

The Obama administration has yet to process Bahrain’s latest shipment of arms (joint-training with Oakland police is another story), but a reward-based media blockade remains in effect after the BICI’s release. Treated as an afterthought throughout the Arab revolutions, U.S. officials again turned their backs on Bahrain as they concentrated on Egypt, Syria and Pakistan’s latest blowup. The White House praised King Hamad’s inquiry and urged him to follow through on proposed reforms, a message designed to reduce U.S. culpability in Bahrain.

Little – if anything – has changed in the two weeks since King Hamad received his BICI in Manama’s Royal Occasions Hall. Confidence quickly dropped after the inquiry’s release, protesters continue to battle government forces in a running low-intensity conflict, and Shia opposition groups such as Al Wefaq and Waad remain marginalized in the political process.

Nabeel Rajab recently arrived in Washington to spread awareness of Bahrain’s environment. The head of Bahrain’s Human Rights Organization wasn’t invited to any State Department meeting and only spoke briefly to Gayle Smith, senior director for democracy in Obama’s National Security Council. Thus Rajab settled for media organs to disseminate his message, and Foreign Policy’s attempt to maintain neutrality – “Is US on Wrong Side of Bahrain?” – rapidly descends into redundancy.

“What I have realized is that there’s a difference between the way the American government and the American people look at the Arab uprisings or the Arab revolution. I have received great support from American civil society, human rights groups, etc., in support of the Bahraini revolution. But that is totally different than the position of the United States government, which has disappointed many people in the Gulf region. And they have seen how the U.S. has acted differently and has different responses for different countries.”

Rajab’s interview offers a clear, sensible warning to U.S. policymakers attempting to navigate Bahrain’s uprising: support genuine democratic reform or risk total regime change. While many Sunni Bahrainis and external observers fear an Iranian takeover if the Shia opposition receives greater political representation, Rajab’s message is free of Tehran’s interference. He is genuinely trying to assist the Obama administration in diffusing Bahrain’s crisis and creating a stable democracy. ….more

December 11, 2011   No Comments

Additional Representitives Stand Up for Bahrain

Farr, Grijalva, Harkin Sign Bahrain Arms Deal Resolutions
POMED – Novemebr 16, 2011

Two additional cosponsors have been added to H.J. Res. 80, which calls for “limiting the issuance of a letter of offer with respect to a certain proposed sale of defense articles and defense services to the Kingdom of Bahrain,” originally introduced by Rep. James McGovern (D-MA). The new cosponsors include Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) and Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ). Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) has also been signed onto H.J. Res. 80′s companion resolution in the Senate S.J. Res. 28, introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR).

The resolution limits the proposed arms sale, requiring the Secretary of State to “certify to the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate and the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives” that the Government of Bahrain “is conducting good faith investigations and prosecutions of alleged perpetrators responsible for the killing, torture, arbitrary detention, and other human rights violations committed since February 2011,” among other measures ensuring the Government of Bahrain’s compliance with international human rights standards.

Meanwhile, Isabel Coles argues that “the future of U.S. military support for Bahrain, starting with a $53 million arms deal now on the line, hinges on the findings of a human rights investigation into the Gulf kingdom’s handling of popular protests earlier this year.” Some fear that while the BICI report, due on November 23, may serve as a “springboard for reform,” the report will not present a “strategic solution to the issue to prevent the recurrence of these problems” in the form of a renewed . …more

November 16, 2011   No Comments

More US Representative Stand-up for Human Rights in Bahrain

Two Cosponsors Added to Bahrain Arms Sale Resolution
POMED – 5 November, 2011

Two new cosponsors have been added to H.J. Res. 80, which calls for “limiting the issuance of a letter of offer with respect to a certain proposed sale of defense articles and defense services to the Kingdom of Bahrain.” The two cosponsors added are Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Representative Jim McDermott (D-WA). Last week, two additional cosponsors were added to the resolution.

This comes as Bahraini security forces used tear gas and armored vehicles to disperse demonstrators marching towards the Pearl Square after the funeral of Ali Hasan al-Dehi. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland noted in the daily press briefing that ”We, the US, would encourage full transparency as this case proceeds and we obviously call on everybody to exercise restraint… It is a fragile time in Bahrain as all sides wait for the Bahraini independent commission of inquiry report.” …source

November 5, 2011   No Comments