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US approves huge arms sale to Bahrain despite human rights concerns

Bahrain is looking to purchase F16s from the US [Getty]

Date of publication: 9 September, 2017

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The US state department has approved a $3.8 billion arms sale to Bahrain, despite continued criticism of the Gulf regime due to gross human rights abuses.
The US state department has approved a $3.8 billion arms sale to Bahrain, despite growing unease about the Gulf state's human rights abuses and blockade of Washington ally Qatar.

The deal will see Bahrain purchase new F-16 aircraft, patrol boats and anti-tank missiles, Reuters reported.

The approval comes as the state department notified Congress of the decision, after it held up a similar deal last year.

An agreement to purchase 19 F-16V fighter jets at a cost of $2.7 billion, along with two machinegun mounted patrol boats and 221 Raytheon anti-tank missiles, giving a boost to US weapons manufacturers.

But the new agreement comes as President Donald Trump made assurances to Bahrain that relations between the two countries would improve earlier this year.

He will face opposition from some in Congress who are appalled by Bahrain's human rights record and role in the blockade of Qatar.

US Senator Bob Corker, who is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he would block arms deals to any Gulf states that are part of the Saudi-led, anti-Qatar coalition in June.

It comes after a damning report earlier this week by Amnesty International, over the Bahrain government's detention and torture of activists, claims that Manama described as "inaccurate".

The state department's approval of the deal comes as Trump spoke with Gulf leaders in an attempt to end the GCC diplomatic crisis, which has seen Qatar blockaded by its neighbours.


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