American bullets in Bahraini guns


In a new piece for TomDispatch, Nick Turse, author of The Case for Withdrawal from Afghanistan, reports on the Pentagon's relationship with a number of autocratic states in the Arab world.

Turse's analysis of Defense Department documents indicates that, since the 1990s, the United States has transferred large quantities of military material, ranging from trucks and aircraft to machine-gun parts and millions of rounds of live ammunition, to Bahrain's security forces. Turse urges us to "look closely and outlines emerge of the ways in which the Pentagon and those oil-rich [Arab] nations have pressured the White House to help subvert the popular democratic will sweeping across the greater Middle East":

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.

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.

Visit TomDispatch to read the article in full.

The Case for Withdrawal from Afghanistan contributor Malalai Joya and Noam Chomsky will be speaking on the case for withdrawal on March 25 in Cambridge, MA. Visit BostonSocialism for more information. 

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