$53m US-Bahrain arms deal ‘on hold’
Manama, February 15, 2012
US diplomats yesterday (February 14) denied rumours that it had cancelled a $53 million arms sale to Bahrain.
The deal had been put on hold last year by the Obama administration until the results of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) were announced.
That is despite US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Gulf Stephen Seche telling journalists at the US Embassy in Manama on October 17 that there was no reason to cancel the deal.
In fact, he said Bahrain needed the arms to protect its borders from rogue states such as Iran.
The deal, which reportedly includes the sale of 44 Humvee armoured vehicles, several hundred TOW antitank missiles, associated equipment and support, had drawn criticism from some who claimed they could be used against Bahraini civilians.
US Embassy officials would not comment on the status of the deal yesterday, but pointed to a statement by US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, at the US Embassy on February 9 - in which he said there had been a 'pause' on several items related to the sale.
'On the arms sales, our position, which we've articulated before, is that we have a longstanding, important, security relationship with Bahrain. That relationship continues,' the embassy quoted Feltman as saying.
'We have maintained and will maintain arms sales that go towards both our regional, our shared regional security needs, and to support the troops in Afghanistan. On several items there has been a pause, and that pause is not indefinite, it really is a chance to help encourage the successful implementation of the BICI recommendations and implementation.
'And so we are, again, maintaining the relationship, but we are also, at this moment, trying to focus here on the things that still need to be done.' – TradeArabia News Service