US Support for Bahraini Repression Slips into the Mainstream

Congratulations to the New York Times for catching up with what has been covering since the first days of the Arab Spring and long before. Nicholas Kristoff’s Op-Ed on Saturday had the title “Repressing Democracy, With American Arms,” referring to U.S. policy towards Bahrain. Kristoff writes that Obama should “understand the systematic, violent repression” in Bahrain and stop sending arms and support.

People here admire much about America and welcomed me into their homes, but there is also anger that the tear gas shells that they sweep off the streets each morning are made by a Pennsylvania company, NonLethal Technologies. It is a private company that declined to comment, but the American government grants it a license for these exports — and every shell fired undermines our image.

…I asked [Zainab al-Khawaja, prominent activist, whose husband and father are both in prison and have been tortured for pro-democracy activities and was arrested herself last week] a few days before her arrest about the proposed American arms sale to Bahrain.

“At least don’t sell them arms,” she pleaded. “When Obama sells arms to dictators repressing people seeking democracy, he ruins the reputation of America. It’s never in America’s interest to turn a whole people against it.”

He also talks about the 14 year old boy shot by security forces with a tear gas canister at point blank range. A video is provided:

Here’s my post on that incident back in August: Ongoing US-Supported Repression in Bahrain

UpdateVia As’ad AbuKhalil, this is what happened in Bahrain over the weekend. By the account of a correspondent inside Bahrain, it was “by far the most violent day since during the time of emergency law.”