U.S. Arms Sales to Bahrain: 4 Questions for the Obama Administration

Bahraini anti-government protesters in Zinj Village, west of Manama, run for cover from tear gas on Dec. 23, 2011. ©AFP/Getty Images

As I wrote on Saturday, the Obama Administration has authorized a new U.S. arms sale to the Bahraini monarchy.  This comes just months after a Congressional and public outcry that led the administration to suspend a prior $53 million arms sale to Bahrain.

Members of Congress, journalists, and Amnesty International were all outraged over the last proposed arms sale.  That’s because Bahraini protesters continue to be tear gassed, beaten, and even killed while exercising their human rights of free speech and association – rights that include the freedom to criticize one’s government.

Regarding this new arms sale, here are the top four questions that the Obama administration must answer immediately: SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Human Rights in the Middle East: Why US Voices Matter

Five months ago, I joined the team at Amnesty International USA to advocate for human rights across the Middle East and North Africa.  Together with my colleagues in our Washington DC office, I work daily to push governments to stand up for core freedoms — or at least, to stop violating them.

From my perch in DC, I’m especially concerned about US foreign policy and how it impacts the lives of those across the Middle East and North Africa.  In a number of countries where protestors have been in the streets, the governments that have attacked them received guns, ammunition, and equipment from US sources.


The Year of Rebellion

egypt demonstration protest

Demonstrators' resilience in 2011 has changed the regional context for human rights © AP Photo / Tarek Fawzy

This week, we  approach the first major anniversary of the popular uprisings that began to sweep through the Middle East and North Africa last year. On January 14, 2011, Tunisia’s long time president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, fled the country to Saudi Arabia. Since December Ben Ali has been on trial – in absentia – along with about 40 other senior officials, for the killing of protesters.

The following weeks will be marked by the anniversaries of uprisings and the resignations of repressive dictators who were ultimately swept away by “a power governments cannot suppress” (transporting a Howard Zinn term to a different region).