Lifting Holds on Security Assistance to the Government of Bahrain

Press Statement
John Kirby
Department Spokesperson
Washington, DC
June 29, 2015

The Administration has decided to lift the holds on security assistance to the Bahrain Defense Force and National Guard that were implemented following Bahrain’s crackdown on demonstrations in 2011. 

While we do not think that the human rights situation in Bahrain is adequate – as our statement on the recent sentencing of Sheikh Ali Salman and the content of our recently-released Human Rights Report make clear – we believe it is important to recognize that the government of Bahrain has made some meaningful progress on human rights reforms and reconciliation. This includes implementation of many key recommendations from the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, and the recent release of a number of prisoners charged with crimes related to their political association and expression. These steps contribute to an environment more conducive to reconciliation and progress. 

Bahrain is an important and long-standing ally on regional security issues, working closely with us on the counter-ISIL campaign and providing logistical and operational support for countering terrorism and maintaining freedom of navigation. 

Following the lift of these holds, we will continue to press Bahrain on our human rights concerns. As we have said many times both publicly and privately, we believe that making progress on these issues strengthens Bahrain and the region’s stability and security. 

All arms transfers to Bahrain will continue to undergo review under the U.S. Conventional Arms Transfer Policy, as do arms transfers to any country.