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Bahrain Live Coverage: Challenging the US Arms Sale

See also Bahrain Feature: A Very British System of Repression
Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: A Pause in the Conflict?
Saturday's Bahrain Live Coverage: Marches and US Arms Sales

Cartoon: Carlos Latuff1914 GMT: The wife of detained human rights activist Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, who is Day 95 of his hunger strike, has seen him for two hours today.

Khadija Almousawi said her husband appears in better condition, but he is still only taking water and juice.

0944 GMT: There has been lots of chatter recently about plans of the six Gulf Co-operation Council nations for "closer union" and whether this could mean an effective merger of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, with some media playing up the comments of Bahrain's Minister of State for Information, Sameera Rajab. Reports indicate that GCC leaders will discuss the matter in Riyadh on Monday.

So we note this statement of the Bahrain News Agency:

His Royal Highness Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa the Prime Minister urged for doubling collective efforts of GCC countries specifically under exceptional current regional circumstances and highlighted the need to deal via a clearcut strategy to surmount the repercussions of present circumstances and challenges which make unity an imperative choice so as to fulfill aspirations of the GCC countries and peoples in achieving more prosperity, security and stability.

HRH the Prime Minister told the daily Saudi newspaper (Riyadh) in an exclusive statement on the occasion of the GCC Consultative Summit meeting hosted in Riyadh, KSA tomorrow that the GCC citizen is so much interested in the announcing of the Gulf Union which is an epoch-making great regional event for the sake of which the GCC leaders have always been working in order to make it a reality as soon as possible.

HRH the Prime Minister hailed the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques [Saudi] King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud for his laudable initiative and efforts for announcing transformation of the GCC organization from the phase of cooperation to ultimate unity and praised the regional, pan-Arab and interatnional role of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, citing Saudi efforts which pushed the gears of joint GCC and Arab work forwards.

0607 GMT: Two US Congressmen, Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Jim McGovern , have confirmed they will maintain their opposition to the American arms sale.

Wyden said  a statement, “This is exactly the wrong time to be selling arms to the government of Bahrain. Things are getting worse, not better.”

McGovern said, “Until there is more substantial and lasting progress on human rights, I will continue to oppose arms sales to Bahrain and (will) work in Congress on legislative options to address this issue."

0600 GMT: Physicians for Human Rights, which has closely monitored the situation in Bahrain, has expressed "its deep disappointment" at the US Government's announcement that it is releasing most of the $53 million in weapons it is selling to the Kingdom.

Most of the arms were held up earlier this year because of concerns over human rights violations and lack of reform by the regime.

PHR commented on Saturday, "The Administration’s military assistance to the Gulf Kingdom sends the wrong message to the people of Bahrain who continue to struggle for democracy and could prematurely ease the pressure on the Bahraini government to seriously and meaningfully implement the reform recommendations included in a report by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry." Deputy Director Richard Sollom, who has been in the country, continued:

Bahraini security forces are stepping up their attacks on civilians, using tear gas indiscriminately against men, women, and children and even firing canisters into homes. The attacks I saw confirmed that the Bahraini government has not made measurable success in ending attacks on civilians.

The PHR also claimed, "Compounding the harm from tear gas attacks, the Government of Bahrain continues to militarise the country’s health care system as a means to intimidate protesters and others in need of medical care."

Sollom concluded, “The US has given away the bargaining power it had to push the Bahraini government to commit to genuine human rights improvements. Today the Administration demonstrated that human rights is not a priority in our relationship with Bahrain,” said Sollom.

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