Since the February 2011 popular uprising of the Arab Spring, the Bahraini monarchy has been teargassing, shooting, threatening, imprisoning, torturing, and killing pro-democracy activists. The chief ally in this effort has been the brutal dictatorship of neighboring Saudi Arabia. The top arms supplier to both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, and owner of a naval fleet docked permanently in Bahrain and expanding its facilities, is the United States of America.
Senators Ron Wyden and Marco Rubio, and Representatives Jim McGovern, Joe Pitts, and Hank Johnson have introduced legislation (S2009, HR3445) to block weapons shipments to Bahrain.
The bills would block the sale or transfer to Bahrain of tear gas, small arms, light weapons, ammunition for small arms and light weapons, and humvees, until Bahrain meets all of the recommendations made in November 2011 by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry.
This doesn’t meet the standard of morality urged by the Pope to Congress of ending the arms trade. The United States is the top supplier of weapons to the Middle East. Ending the sale of certain weapons to one nation until conditions are met clearly falls short. But it is a great place to start, and will make a terrific step toward a wider arms embargo — if we can pass it.
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