U.S. resuming some weapons sales to Bahrain
The United States is loosening some of its restrictions on weapons sales to Bahrain, a Persian Gulf ally that has grappled with massive protests pushing for greater democracy. But the U.S. move has upset rights activists, who say the country is still attacking and abusing dissidents.
The U.S. froze its weapons sales to Bahrain in October over human rights concerns. [State Department spokeswoman Victoria]Nuland said the U.S. was still withholding antitank missiles and Humvees, along with “certain additional items for the Bahrain Defense Force,” stressing that the newly released items “are not used for crowd control." The Bahraini crown prince met with U.S. officials this week. Nuland did not specify what would be sold to Bahrain, but Bloomberg News reported that the equipment includes air-to-air missiles and ammunition.
The unrest has left the United States open to accusations that although it has championed other "Arab Spring" uprisings, it has been less aggressive in backing calls for change in Bahrain, a strategic ally. The nonprofit Human Rights First slammed Friday's announcement. Nuland insisted the U.S. was concerned about excessive force by police. “We urge all sides to work together to end the violence and refrain from incitement of any kind, including attacks on peaceful protesters or on the Bahraini police,” she said.
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