Washington: The US Senate on Thursday rejected a long-shot effort to block $300 million in arms sales to Bahrain, as the bill’s opponents stressed the island nation was a critical ally hosting an American naval base.
The effort, led by Republican Senator Rand Paul, failed as the Senate voted 77 to 21 to table the measure, essentially killing it.
Paul is a fervent critic of the war in Yemen. He said Bahrain is a member of the US-backed Saudi-led coalition waging the war, and that Congress ought to block the sales as a way to show its disapproval.
“I’m only saying stop one sale of arms to send a message that we are done with the war in Yemen, that we are no longer going to sell weapons to countries that are fighting this war in Yemen, that the war must come to a close,” Paul said in a floor speech.
“Unfortunately, the Senate voted against taking a stand to help stop the loss of innocent life” in Yemen, Paul added in a post-vote tweet.
Critics of the bill warned that punishment of Bahrain would be misplaced, especially as 7,800 US military personnel are deployed there on a base that hosts the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which helps protect US interests in the region.
Bahrain is strategically located between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Senate Democrat Bob Menendez said he supported blocking a massive arms sale deal with Saudi Arabia, but not with Bahrain.
“Its willingness to host our naval forces also places Bahrain at greater risk from attack from Iran and terrorist groups seeking to do harm to the United States,” Menendez said.
[source_without_link] Agence France-Presse[/source_without_link]