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Quick Facts: US and Bahrain

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TEHRAN, April 5 (ICANA) – Some facts about US and Bahrain:
Tuesday, April 05, 2011 11:18:00 AM
Quick Facts: US and Bahrain



Bahrain is a small desert kingdom in the Persian Gulf, a nation of about 1 million. NY Times

Bahrain is one of the most strategically important countries for the United States. NY Times

It produces a notable amount of oil, and is a banking hub. NY Times

Islam is the state religion in Bahrain. asiarooms.com

The Shi'a constitute over 70% of the Muslim population but face discrimination. state.gov

The Shi'a majority population has often been critical of the Sunni-controlled Government's rule. state.gov

While Shi'as complain about discrimination, other Bahrainis also have grievances about political changes that have reduced the power of parliament and about the Khalifa family’s domination of top ministerial posts. The country’s prime minister, the uncle of King Hamad, has held that job since Bahrain became independent in 1971. Antiwar.com

Sunni. Shia. Every time the protests in Bahrain are mentioned, they are made into a battle between these two branches of Islam, as if this was a war of religions. It's not about religion; it's about power and the desire for political change. Of course, in terms of power, it matters that 65 per cent of the population of Bahrain is Shia but 95 per cent of authority and most of the wealth belongs to the Sunni royal family and its close circle. The Independent

For decades, international news has refused to shine a light on the realities of Bahrain's primary domestic conflict: colonialism. Instead, headline after headline portrays Bahrain's problems as a sectarian divide. Huffington Post

The so-called sectarian divide of Bahrain is a manipulative simplification of a far greater divide: that of the colonially-installed government that has no connection with or compassion for the people of Bahrain. Huffington Post




The U.S. embassy at Manama was opened September 21, 1971, and a resident ambassador was sent in 1974. ncbuy.com

The Bahraini embassy in Washington, DC, opened in 1977. ncbuy.com

Bahrain and the United States signed a Defense Cooperation Agreement in October 1991 granting U.S. forces access to Bahraini facilities and ensuring the right to pre-position material for future crises. ncbuy.com

Bahrain has been a base for U.S. naval activity in the Persian Gulf since 1947. ncbuy.com

Bahrain is home to the Fifth Fleet, the central source of U.S. naval power in the Persian Gulf region. ft.com

In March 2002, U.S. President George Bush designated Bahrain a "major non-NATO ally" (MNNA) a designation that facilitates U.S. arms sales. eurasiareview.com

Since the 1990s, the United States has transferred large quantities of military materiel, ranging from trucks and aircraft to machine-gun parts and millions of rounds of live ammunition, to Bahrain’s security forces. Tom Dispatch

According to data from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the branch of the government that coordinates sales and transfers of military equipment to allies, the U.S. has sent Bahrain dozens of "excess" American tanks, armored personnel carriers, and helicopter gunships. The U.S. has also given the Bahrain Defense Force thousands of .38 caliber pistols and millions of rounds of ammunition, from large-caliber cannon shells to bullets for handguns. To take one example, the U.S. supplied Bahrain with enough .50 caliber rounds—used in sniper rifles and machine guns—to kill every Bahraini in the kingdom four times over. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency did not respond to repeated requests for information and clarification. Antiwar.com

In addition to all these gifts of weaponry, ammunition, and fighting vehicles, the Pentagon in coordination with the State Department oversaw Bahrain's purchase of more than $386 million in defense items and services from 2007 to 2009, the last three years on record. These deals included the purchase of a wide range of items from vehicles to weapons systems. Just this past summer, to cite one example, the Pentagon announced a multimillion-dollar contract with Sikorsky Aircraft to customize nine Black Hawk helicopters for Bahrain’s Defense Force. Antiwar.com

In 2010, the U.S. provided around $20 million in military aid to Bahrain. csmonitor.com

Bahrain is a regional base for numerous American banks and firms. ncbuy.com

U.S. companies have won a string of contracts in Bahrain, including Gulf Air's purchase of 24 Boeing 787 Dreamliners. ft.com

The United States and Bahrain signed an FTA on September 14, 2004. Implementing legislation was signed January 11, 2006. eurasiareview.com

US Stance on Bahrain Revolution

December 2010, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pronounces herself "very impressed by the progress that Bahrain is making on all fronts - economically, politically, socially." Clinton says, "There seems to be a strong broadly-held commitment to democracy in Bahrain." csmonitor.com

February 2011, thousands of anti-government protesters gather in the capital Manama. A security crackdown results in the death of several protesters. BBC

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates call their counterparts in Bahrain. President Obama calls Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa. csmonitor.com

February 18, 2011, the White House releases a statement saying, "People have certain universal rights including the right to peaceful assembly." The statement urges the "governments of Bahrain, Libya and Yemen to show restraint in responding to peaceful protests and to respect the rights of their people." csmonitor.com

March 11, 2011, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates arrives on an unannounced visit to Bahrain to offer American support to the royal family and prod the king and the crown prince toward talks with protesters demanding more democracy. NPR

March 14, 2011, Troops from a number of Persian Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, arrive in Bahrain. BBC

The Saudi government says it has answered a request by Bahrain for support. BBC

The U.S. says it is aware of the deployment. BBC

The U.S. says it does not consider the entry of Saudi Arabian forces into Bahrain an invasion. Reuters

March 16, 2011, Bahrain forces consisting of Saudi Arabian forces attack protesters in Manama's Pearl Square. The army uses tear gas and rubber bullets are fired at close range at nurses who try to attend to the wounded Bahrain citizens and many die of their wounds. The security forces from Saudi Arabia even attack doctors in hospitals, nurses in the streets. politicolnews.com

U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton says she is alarmed by the violence in Bahrain and deplores the use of force. NPR

Protesters in Manama accuse the U.S. of not doing anything to prevent the violence. They say it's not what Washington said. It's what it didn't say. NPR

Critics accuse the U.S. of employing a double-standard - reluctant to oust the monarchy in Bahrain but more than willing to encourage Libyans to topple Muammar Gaddafi. examiner.com

One Middle Eastern intervention makes the headlines every day. The other barely rates a mention. The first is ostensibly aimed at protecting civilians and at facilitating change, the second at safeguarding the status quo. Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi has been told he must go. Bahrain’s ruling Al Khalifa family, on the other hand, must stay. Some Arabs, one could be forgiven for assuming, are worthier of democracy and civil rights than others. Dawn.com

The U.S. has important strategic interests in supporting the status quo in Bahrain. This is the headquarters of the U.S. Navy Fifth Fleet. The Independent

The U.S. is also hesitant to criticize Sunni ally Saudi Arabia. examiner.com

Now in Bahrain, we see another factor involved in the U.S. Empire’s support of dictatorship — U.S. foreign military bases — one of the many hundreds all across the world. The dictatorship in Bahrain has permitted the Empire to establish and maintain a base there for the Empire's Fifth Fleet. The Future of Freedom Foundation

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