After US Senate, Bill to Prohibit Arms Sales to Bahrain Introduced in House of Representatives

2015-09-16 - 3:07 ص

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): Members of the United States House of Representatives Congressmen Jim McGovern, Joe Pitts, and Hank Johnson introduced last Tuesday (September 8, 2015) a bill in the House of Representatives, which states that the United States Government may not sell or transfer to the Government of Bahrain any of the prohibited arms, listed in the bill, until the Secretary of State certifies that the Government of Bahrain has fully implemented all 26 recommendations set forth in the 2011 Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) report.

The bill was recited before the House of Representatives and then referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs. The bill itself was introduced in the US Senate (Upper House of the US Congress), last month, by Senators Marco Rubio and Ron Wyden to urge both the Democratic and Republican Parties to oppose selling and transferring specific arms to Bahrain. 

Bill H.R. 3445 "to prohibit the sales of arms to Bahrain," may also be cited as "The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) Accountability Act of 2015".

The bill listed the findings the Congress has made about Bahrain. It highlighted in details the stages of the establishment, work and recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), and the statements and reports of the US State Department on the situation in Bahrain. This bill prohibits the US government from selling or transferring to Bahrain specified weapons and crowd control items until the Department of State certifies that Bahrain has fully implemented all 26 recommendations set forth in the 2011 Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry report.

The prohibited items specified in the bill are as follows: (1) Tear gas. (2) Small arms. (3) Light weapons. (4) Ammunition for small arms and light weapons. (5) Humvees. (6) Other items that could reasonably be used for crowd control purposes.

As part of a media campaign to pass the bill, Senator Ron Wyden and Congressman Jim McGovern, posted an article on the CNN website, entitled: "Rethink US arms sales to Bahrain," pointing out that continued repression in Bahrain could lead to increased violence and instability.

The authors of this article, which was translated into Arabic by Bahrain Mirror, expressed their deep disappointment "by the "US State Department's recent decision to resume arms sales to Bahrain," which was made last June.

We have long supported this ban both because it keeps US weapons out of the hands of bad actors and because a privileged relationship with the United States should depend on respect for basic rights such as free assembly and expression.

Unfortunately, State's announcement sends precisely the opposite message to Bahrain's rulers," stressed Wyden and McGovern.

In a statement issued last month, McGovern said: "As a world leader, America has a responsibility to strengthen human rights at home and abroad," criticizing the recent renewal of US military aid to Bahrain which he described as "a country that continues to repress its own people."

"If the US is truly committed to regional stability, we must push allies like Bahrain to embrace policies that will strengthen free societies, not silence entire segments of their population," McGovern added.

McGovern considered that "this is the only way to combat extremism. That is why I plan to introduce this important legislation to block the sale of certain arms to Bahrain until they take the strong steps needed to improve human rights in their country."

The US had announced on June 11 lifting the ban imposed on arms sales to Bahrain under the pretext that Bahrain made progress on human rights issues and reform, despite widespread reports by international NGOs and UN experts saying otherwise.

The US State Department considered the release of Ebrahim Sharif, who is one of the prominent political prisoners of "Bahrain 13", as a main example of this "meaningful" progress. The Bahraini authorities; however, arrested Sharif again 19 days after his release over his calls for reform and carrying on the revolution against the regime, and he is now facing charges which carry a potential penalty reaching up to 15 years in prison.

Before the announcement of the ban lift, US Secretary of State John Kerry gave the Foreign Minister of Bahrain a promise during a meeting in Paris, according to an article by Josh Rogin published on "Bloomberg View" website, in which Rogin said that "Kerry was speaking extemporaneously" and pointed out that "Wyden was surprised when I told him the weapons ban could be ending."

It is noteworthy that the US imposed the ban on US arms sales to Bahrain following the violent crackdown that the Government of Bahrain launched on peaceful protestors since 2011.

Arabic Issue

التعليقات المنشورة لا تعبر بالضرورة عن رأي الموقع

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