Gulf | Bahrain

US says no reason to null Bahrain arms deal

The arms deal has been under criticism from those who say the arms could be used for domestic security

  • Gulf News Report
  • Published: 07:52 October 19, 2011
  • Gulf News

Dubai: A $53-million (Dh195 million) weapons sale to Bahrain will likely be backed by Congress, according to a secnior American diplomat speaking to Journalists in Bahrain on Monday.

The arms deal has been under criticism from those who say the arms could be used for domestic security after unrest hit the country earlier this year.

"We will consider all elements and circumstances on the ground - including human rights concerns, NGO (non-governmental organisations) monitoring and all issues that are part and parcel of the weapons sale process," US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Arabian Gulf Stephen Seche told journalists at the US Embassy in Bahrain Monday.

He said that Bahrain needed the arms - which include Humvees and missiles - to protect cities and its borders from rogue states.

Seche said Bahrain's government assured the arms would be used for defense against the backdrop of threats from Iran and against any illegal anti-government demonstrations.

He echoed comments by State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, who said on Friday: "This sale is designed to support the Bahraini military in its defence function, specifically in hardening the country against opposition groups and potential attack or nefarious activity by countries like Iran."

Seche also said the US looked forward to the recommendations by an international panel that investigated the events that hit Bahrain in February and March and their consequences.

The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), set up in June, is scheduled to announce its findings on October 30.

The BICI, locally known as the Bassiouni Commission, after its leader Professor M. Cherif Bassiouni an expert in international criminal, human rights and humanitarian law, has interviewed thousands of people in its quest to appreciate what really happened.

"I think we would like to wait for the Commission report to speak for itself. We have been encouraged by the process that has ensued here since the Commission first arrived in Bahrain. They have been very thorough and Mahmoud Cherif Bassiouni has spoken publicly about the response. He has been encouraged by the receptivity of all aspects of the Bahraini government to probe into the different questions, their need to get to as much information in the time they had," Seche said.

"This is a positive development and we believe that the Commission's findings will reflect a process which has been thorough and comprehensive and very professional. We will look forward to the recommendations," he was quoted as saying.

The report will be presented to King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa and published online. According to Bahraini officials, a ceremony will be held to mark the event, with King Hamad and Bassiouni giving speeches. In his remarks, Seche denied claims that the US was meddling in Bahrain's domestic affairs.

"What I am trying to do with my meetings with all sectors of society is to better understand the situation and examine it so that we can be helpful," he said.

"The US is a friend of Bahrain. And as a friend, we would like what is best for them so we try to help Bahrain to resolve its issues but never in a meddling way. From our assessment, we are concerned with the divide between the government and elements of the opposition. Both parties have to reach out to one another through dialogue. Reconciliation is essential," he reportedly said.

 

 

 

 

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