Flashback to Wednesday when US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke of "human rights" during the visit by Crown Prince Salman --- Today, Washington followed up further meetings with Salman by renewing arms sales to the Kingdom
2019 GMT: Amid clashes including tear gas to disperse marchers, police approach youth in Karzakan --- photo from Associated Press:
1953 GMT: The march of thousands today calling for freedom for political prisoners, including human rights activist Nabeel Rajab:
Rajab, arrested last Saturday, is due in court on Sunday to see if his detention will be extended.
Today, the Administration informed Congress that for national security interests we have decided to release additional items and services for the Bahrain Defense Force, the Coast Guard, and the National Guard for the purpose of helping Bahrain maintain its external defense capabilities. Bahrain is an important security partner and ally in a region facing enormous challenges. Maintaining our and our partners’ ability to respond to these challenges is a critical component of our commitment to Gulf security.
We have made the decision to release additional items to Bahrain mindful of the fact that there are a number of serious unresolved human rights issues that the Government of Bahrain needs to address. We will continue to maintain the holds on the TOW missiles and Humvees that were notified to Congress last October. Certain additional items for the Bahrain Defense Force, as well as all items for the Ministry of the Interior, excepting the Coast Guard and units deployed in Afghanistan, will also remain on hold. The items that we are releasing are not used for crowd control.
While the Government of Bahrain has begun to take some important steps to implement the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry report, the country is becoming increasingly polarized and much work remains to be done. We are concerned about excessive use of force and tear gas by police. At the same time, we are concerned by the almost daily use of violence by some protestors. We urge all sides to work together to end the violence and refrain from incitement of any kind, including attacks on peaceful protestors or on the Bahraini police.
Going forward, we will continue to engage with Bahrain to encourage meaningful progress on human rights and reform. The United States believes that addressing the underlying causes of last year’s unrest and undertaking meaningful political and institutional reforms are critical to Bahrain’s stability and the strength of our countries’ longstanding partnership. All Bahrainis have a significant stake in participating in dialogue that leads to reform, and we call on the Bahraini government and people to resolve their issues through discussion. We remain committed to supporting Bahrain in achieving progress in these areas.
Two sources have told Bloomsberg of the resumption. An announcement is expected today after Vice President Joe Biden meets with Crown Prince Salman at the White House.
On Wednesday, the Crown Prince met US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who called on the regime to improve its approach to human rights but said nothing about the arms sales.
“I’m not in a position to confirm anything at the moment,” State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland said about the matter.
A source briefed on the decision said the Administration plans to resume sales of items that cannot be used for crowd control, including Raytheon Co. (RTN) AMRAAM air-to-air missiles and ammunition.
The sale originally included anti-tank missiles, which will not be in today’s agreement because they could be used against groups of protesters.
1536 GMT: According to Bloomberg reporter Nicole Gaouette, the US is changing course on Bahrain, a move that will surely infuriate many in the opposition:
The U.S. is expected to resume some weapons sales to Bahrain today, after freezing them in the wake of the kingdom's crackdown on protests.— Nicole Gaouette (@nicolegaouette) May 11, 2012
1235 GMT: An activist has posted a summary of the defence presented by 20 doctors and nurses, sentenced last autumn by a military tribunal to 5 to 15 years in prison, in Thursday's hearing in a civilian court. Among the claims are illegal arrests, vague charges, and abuses:
Torture of medics is proved by the medical reports of the forensic doctors belonging to prosecution itself & the forensic doctors brought by Bassiouni 1230:There was a more discernible pattern of mistreatment with regard to certain categories of detainees, including some of the medical personnel arrested in connection with the events at SMC [Salmaniyah Medical Centre] and the 14 political leaders held at Al Qurain Prison. In many of these cases, the purpose of mistreatment was to obtain statements or confessions incriminating the detainee in question.
1100 GMT: A march in Bilad Qadeem on Thursday night to show solidarity with leading Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim, a target of regime criticism:
0800 GMT: We begin today's coverage with video of editor Mansoor Al Jamri receiving a Peace Through Media award, given to a journalist whose "work is of such quality that it has helped to foster a climate of peace and understanding".
Al Jamri is the co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of the daily Al-Wasat, the only independent newspaper in Bahrain. He was forced to resign by the regime in April 2011, six weeks after the start of the mass protests, but was reinstated by the Board of Directors four months later: