Trump is Letting Human Rights Deteriorate and Bahrain is Exhibit A, Washington Post Editorial
2017-03-23 - 5:35 p
Bahrain Mirror: If there is an Exhibit A for how the ascent of the Trump administration is leading to the deterioration of human rights in other countries, it is Bahrain, said the Washington Post in an editorial in its March 13 online edition.
The US newspaper highlighted that since 2011, when its majority-Shiite population revolted during the Arab Spring, the Sunni monarchy has engaged in serial campaigns of repression, interspersed with gestures at liberalization aimed at appeasing the United States.
The newspaper noted that in September, fed up with Bahrain's backtracking on the imprisonment of dissidents, "the Obama administration conditioned a $3 billion sale of 19 F-16 warplanes to the country on a private list of human rights concessions. They were steps U.S. officials believed Bahrain could fulfill without risk - such as the release of prominent human rights advocate Nabeel Rajab."
It further pointed out that the regime of King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa did not comply and instead waited for the U.S. presidential election results, adding that "when Donald Trump won, it appealed for the F-16 sale to go forward without conditions - and meanwhile launched a new crackdown on opponents at home."
Listing the steps taken by Bahrain in its latest crackdown on dissent, the editorial read that "the government moved to dissolve a moderate, secular opposition party, restored the power of a domestic intelligence agency to make arrests, and pushed a measure through parliament authorizing military trials of civilians."
The paper added that despite these brazen measures - the last two of which reverse reform steps Bahrain previously took in response to U.S. criticism - the Trump administration appears to be preparing to go forward with the F-16 sale.
"Congressional sources say they believe that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis have agreed to divorce political conditions from military cooperation with Bahrain and other Persian Gulf allies," it noted; however, underlining that other members of the committee, from both parties, remain disturbed by Bahrain's behavior and by the prospect of an unconditional sale.
The editorial stressed that Foreign Relations Committee members "should insist that before going forward with the Bahrain deal, the administration come up with a strategy to reverse the ongoing repression," further stating that Mr. Rajab and other nonviolent opponents should be released and peaceful opposition political parties allowed to organize.
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