The United States will resume some military sales to Bahrain, the State Department said on Friday. Bahrain is a key Gulf ally facing Iran.
The Obama administration notified Congress that certain sales would be allowed for Bahrain’s Defense Force, Coast Guard and National Guard, although it would maintain a hold on TOW missiles, Humvees and some other items for now, the Department said in a statement.
“We have made the decision to release additional items to Bahrain mindful of the fact that there are a number of serious unresolved issues that the government of Bahrain needs to address,” the statement said.
The State Department did not give a total value for the items being released but emphasized that the equipment being approved was “not used for crowd control.”
US officials said among the sales now allowed to go forward would be harbor security vessels and upgrades to turbo-fan engines used in F-16 fighter aircraft as well as legislation which could pave the way for a future sale of a naval frigate.
Items still on hold, besides the missiles and the Humvees, include teargas, teargas launchers and stun grenades.
The resumption of military sales follows a visit to Washington this week by Bahrain Crown Prince Salman Hamid Al-Khalifa, who met Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
“The Vice President expressed concern about the recent escalation of street violence, including attacks against security forces,” the White House said.
Bahrain has been the host of US naval headquarters in the Gulf for more than 60 years and is seen as a central bulwark for US efforts to deter Iran
The original $ 53 million sale proposal included 44 Humvee armored vehicles and several hundred TOW missiles along with associated equipment. Prime contractors would be privately held AM General and Raytheon Co.
Source: Saudi Gazette; Gulf Times – Photo: U.S. Dept. of Defense