Bahrain Mirror: A bipartisan group of senators wants the State Department to reconsider military aid to Bahrain following a crackdown on political opposition and a deteriorating human rights situation, reported CNN.
This came in a letter addressed to Secretary of State John Kerry, which CNN obtained a copy of, on Wednesday (June 29, 2016) in which the senators requested that the State Department "rethink arms sales to the key Gulf ally if Bahrain's leadership cannot protect the rights freedom of speech and freedom of assembly."
The letter signed by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and Democratic Sens. Chris Murphy, Ron Wyden and Tim Kaine, follows a June 21 State Department report to Congress critical of Bahrain.
Wesley Bruer said that the State Department has not responded to specific questions on the issue of military aid to Bahrain following the report's publication, but Kirby said after the report came out that, "You don't have to look much farther back in history to see that we aren't afraid to make decisions in respect to, in this last case, with foreign military sales, when and if we feel it is responsible to do that."
The criticism raised by the senators and State Department Spokesman came after a Bahrain court suspended earlier this month the main Shiite opposition party, Al-Wefaq, and froze its assets and a the sentence of the party's secretary general, Ali Salman, was more than doubled to nine years in prison for "promoting forceful change of the political regime," among other charges.
Kirby urged the Bahraini officials "to reconsider" the suspension of Al-Wefaq and said Washington was "deeply troubled."
CNN further noted that the day before Bahrain's Justice Ministry suspended Al-Wefaq, whom the government accused of working "to create a new generation that carries a spirit of hatred," the official Bahrain News Agency (BNA) reported that prominent human rights activist Nabeel Rajab was arrested in a raid on his home, stressing that authorities have recently revoked the citizenship of the country's most prominent Shiite religious leader, Sheikh Isa Qassim, leaving him vulnerable to deportation.
The State Department condemned "withdrawing the nationality of its citizens arbitrarily" and warned the case of Qassim "will further divert Bahrainis from the path of reform and reconciliation," according to a statement.
Tags: Stripping of Nationality, Sheikh Ali Salman Arrest, US State Department, Nabeel Rajab Arrest, Armament, Al-Wefaq Suspension, Revocation of Sheikh Isa Qassim's Citizenship