US to resume weapons sales to Bahraini regime
The United States is to resume weapons sales to Bahrain, despite an ongoing crackdown on pro-democracy protests in the Gulf state.
The country is to sell a frigate and other coast guard vessels to the country's military, along with upgraded engines for F-16 fighters.
Arms sales were frozen last year after the Bahraini government suppressed pro-democracy demonstrations.
The US State Department says the shipment will help Bahrain "maintain its external defence capabilities."
Bahrain is a key US ally in the Gulf, hosting the US Navy's Fifth Fleet, but has been rocked by protests in the past year, with thousands of activists taking to the streets to demand reform from the country's ruling monarchy.
Protests in the Gulf state have continued, and government forces have recently begun a fresh crackdown, arresting many opposition leaders, activists have told Al-Akhbar
The crackdown, which started a month ago ahead of the controversial Grand Prix in the country, has included the arrest of Nabeel Rajab, head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, and blogger Zainab al-Khawaja.
Rajab has been charged over his comments made on Twitter, in which he highlighted the government’s failed promises of reform.
Alaa Shehabi, head of the Bahrain Watch website, said on Friday other leaders were also being threatened.
"All the prominent leaders like Nabeel Rajab and Zainab al-Khawaja are being arrested one by one. They are after certain people, they are after certain protest organizers – I have been threatened and (deputy head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights) Said Yousif has been followed," she told Al-Akhbar.