5 April 2017 – Executive Director of Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) Husain Abdulla condemns the decision of United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the Donald Trump administration to lift human rights conditions on the sale of 19 Lockheed Martin F-16 combat aircraft to Bahrain.
“It is absolutely reprehensible that one of the first major foreign policy moves of the new Trump administration – and of Tillerson’s State Department – is to strip human rights conditions from this F-16 arms sale to Bahrain. Trump and his team claim to be brilliant dealmakers, but what does the US get by weakening this arrangement? Nothing but emboldened authoritarianism in Bahrain and more carnage in places like Yemen. Senator Bob Corker says such weapons transfers are no place to press for reform, that it would be counterproductive to US security interests. But this is precisely the shortsighted argument that has allowed countries like Bahrain to exploit shifting human rights commitments in Washington while carrying out destabilizing abuses at home. Congress must take action to hold these sales during the remaining review period, before equipping reckless and authoritarian armies becomes official Trump doctrine.”
In Middle East Eye, Abdulla writes: The “move to delink human rights from American weapon transfers defangs our best bargaining position to secure real stability in a tumultuous region. Moreover, the decision to abandon reform incentives in order to placate an irresponsible ally – so early in the administration’s lifespan – not only gives Bahrain the green light to continue down a dangerous path of repression, it also signals to the world that America caves quickly on even its basic principles. That’s not an artistic deal – in fact, it’s barely a deal at all. It’s simply arming autocrats.”
Read the full editorial here.