“President Barack Obama’s administration has been delaying its planned $53 million arms sale to Bahrain due to human rights concerns and congressional opposition, but this week administration officials told several congressional offices that they will move forward with a new and different package of arms sales — without any formal notification to the public. The congressional offices that led the charge to oppose the original Bahrain arms sales package are upset that the State Department has decided to move forward with the new package. The opposition to Bahrain arms sales is led by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), and also includes Senate Foreign Relations Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee chairman Robert Casey (D-PA), Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL), and Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), and Marco Rubio (R-FL). Wyden and Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) have each introduced a resolution in their respective chambers to prevent the U.S. government from going through with the original sale, which would have included 44 armored, high-mobility Humvees and over 300 advanced missiles. The State Department has not released details of the new sale, and Congress has not been notified through the regular process.……….”
The ruling al-Khalifa clan in Bahrain have been masters of deception. For years they managed to cultivate the image of a cosmopolitan liberal monarchy, even as they applied a system of discriminatory apartheid against a majority of their people. They were aided in that by some bought and paid-for European expatriates (especially Brits) as well and slick public relations campaigns. All this was exposed in recent years as the people rose demanding their rights. The whole façade finally fell apart last spring when the regime and its imported mercenaries failed to crush the people’s uprising. It had to invite an invasion by foreign (Saudi) forces to help repress the protests. They are still repressing and killing people, even as they fill Western media with talk of reform.
The Obama administration has also learned to master deception and double standards. While they talk of freedom and democracy in, say, Iran and Libya and Syria, they turned their back on the people of Bahrain. They have been deathly silent about Saudi Arabia, the absolutely most repressive regime in the Middle East, possibly in the world after North Korea. It should not have been surprising that the Obama administration planned to sell weapons to the al-Khalifa clan to help them crush the newly resurgent protests. There was some opposition in Congress, from legislators in both parties. That is how the Obama administration hit upon this trick for selling the same weapons of repression to Bahrain, but in several smaller packages that can bypass congressional approval. A masterful piece of trickery, almost Clintonian, something the al-Khalifa would do, and have done.
Change? As far as the Middle East is concerned, the change Mr. Obama once claimed is nothing new, certainly nothing Arabs and Muslims can believe in. Unless they are repressive absolute tribal dynasties with deep pockets.