Congress Calls for DOD Assessment of Security Situation in Bahrain, Options for Fifth Fleet
1 October 2015 – The FY 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report, released last Tuesday by the Chairs and Ranking Members of the House Armed Services and Senate Armed Services Committees, would require the Department of Defense to submit an assessment on the security situation in Bahrain within 120 days of the bill’s final passage. The report would include the security situation’s implications for US-based personnel in the country and provide options for the temporary relocation of US personnel should the situation become unsustainable. This provision represents the first instance in which both houses of Congress have publicly called for a formal contingency plan for the US armed services currently serving in Bahrain and reflects broad congressional concern with ongoing unrest in Bahrain. ADHRB commends and welcomes the decision to include the contingency plan requirement within the final NDAA.
Updates from the Ground in Bahrain
- 16 arrested including 1 child.
- Courts upheld, altered, or sentenced 14 individuals to 140 years in jail, collectively, and postponed 91 trials.
- The trial of Majeed Milad was postponed to 12 October 2015.
- Security forces continue to use excessive force including tear gas and shotgun pellets against protesters.
Bahrain News and Opinion
The year got off to a bad start, but few could have predicted how bad it would become for Bahrain: 2015 has seen not just a deterioration of political and civil rights, but the impact of authoritarian policies on the economy. While Bahrainis prepare to endure falling living standards as cuts hit welfare spending, there is as yet no talk of slashing police and defense spending. These have grown substantially since 2011 and today account for nearly a third of all government expenditures.
Despite Bahrain’s continuing human rights abuses and failure to implement meaningful reforms, the State Department lifted a ban on arms sales to the Bahrain Defense Forces in June 2015. There have been many opportunities for Washington to use its military influence with Bahrain as incentive for reform. However, instead of requiring real progress on reforms, the US continues to send the signal that human rights violations will eventually be forgotten.
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