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U.S. Renews Military Sales to Bahrain Amid Crackdown

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Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta poses for an official photograph with Bahrain's Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al Khalifa at the Pentagon May 10, 2012 in Washington D.C. (Photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo)

The Obama administration is proceeding with military sales to Bahrain despite the ruling monarchy’s ongoing repression of pro-democracy protests. On Friday, the State Department announced it will allow a multi-million dollar weapons shipment to the Bahraini government, citing "national security interests." The announcement came just days after the Bahraini government vowed "tougher action" in its crackdown on protesters. As the United States confirmed the weapons sale, thousands of Bahrainis marched near the capital Manama to call for the release of political prisoners.

Protester: "Of course, our demands in Bahrain, demands of all the people, are the demands of everybody for years — democracy, change of regime, the release of prisoners. These are demands by everyone else in the world. We want the same things."

In response to the announcement of more weapon sales to Bahrain, the group Human Rights First issued this statement: "The U.S. can be in no doubt about the reality of the repression in Bahrain. Where is the progress that warrants the reward of arms?"

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