The US State Department has approved $3.8 billion in weapons sales to the tiny island nation of Bahrain. The Pentagon confirmed the approval and the State Department has notified Congress, who held up a similar sale last year over Bahrain’s many, many human rights problems.
The $3.8 billion sale is almost entirely going to Lockheed Martin, who will be providing 19 F-16V fighter jets, along with substantial upgrades to the nation’s existing fleet of F-16s. Raytheon will be selling 221 anti-tank missiles to go with it.
Sales to Bahrain were supposed to be suspended, as Sen. Bob Corker (R – TN) had threatened to hold them all up until they resolved tensions with Qatar. In the end, however, Congress is said to have signed off through normal channels.
State Department officials insist that the US is continuing to discuss human rights issues with Bahrain, and is encouraging reform. That historically has never really been the case, as the US has largely turned a blind eye to Bahrain’s abuse of its Shi’ite population, viewing it as a cost of getting to host a major naval base there.
Bahrain had earlier today condemned Amnesty International for a report detailing their detention and torture of Shi’ite dissidents. Bahrain didn’t provide any details on their problem with the report, just that they “regretted” it being published.