Remember when the US sanctioned Bahrain over crimes against human rights?
Well, it does not bother us anymore
The United States has signed a security pact with Bahrain on Wednesday, pledging to protect the Gulf state against potential aggression. Washington has stated its intention to encourage other countries in the region to join this cooperation. Just a few years ago, the United States had imposed an arms embargo on the monarchy.
The agreement primarily involves the sharing of intelligence, scientific exchange, and economic cooperation. Bahrain, a small kingdom ruled by a Sunni family, already hosts the U.S. Fifth Fleet and has tense relations with Shiite Iran, located across the Persian Gulf.
The agreement is intended to enable “better collaboration to respond to threats as they arise,” stated U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken during the signing ceremony in Washington, in the presence of Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa.
Additionally, the two countries will also cooperate on “trusted technologies,” referring to equipment, often of Chinese origin, that Washington views as a security risk.
According to an unnamed US government official quoted in the New York Times, the deal is not a treaty that would require Senate approval, but a legally binding guarantee that should prevent conflict in the Middle East.
Blinken said Wednesday that the agreement should serve as a blueprint for cooperation with other countries in the region, including the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. The Biden administration is also currently negotiating a defense pact with the Saudis and a related rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Israel, one of President Biden’s wishes.
Bahrain was the target of an arms embargo decided upon by former President Barack Obama following the crackdown on demonstrations in the wake of the 2011 Arab Spring. The Trump administration subsequently resumed talks with the country, in particular due to the normalization of relations with Israel from 2020.
NGOs regularly accuse Bahrain of serious human rights violations and torturing opponents.