The United States Senate rejected a measure to block US arms sales to Bahrain over the island kingdom’s involvement in the war in Yemen.
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The bill aimed to stop the sale of $300m in US-made weapons to Bahrain, which includes guided missiles and rocket launch systems, as well as the training of military personnel, and technical and logistical support.
He tied Bahrain to the war in a brief speech on the Senate floor on Thursday, saying the kingdom is an “intimate part” of a Saudi-led coalition that launched a military campaign in 2015 to root out Yemen’s Houthi rebels.
“Quit selling them arms one time, and they’ll sit up, and they’ll say let’s have a talk,” Paul said.
Paul also criticised Bahrain’s human rights record and mistreatment of its “majority-Shia population”.
Bahrain, which is home to a large US naval base, has faced unrest since the violent crackdown on pro-democracy protests inspired by Arab Spring uprisings in 2011. The kingdom has since silenced critics by jailing dissidents and dissolving political parties that oppose the government.
Paul went on to rebuke Saudi Arabia and its allies, urging action against them because, he said, they do not respond to “meek words”.
The senator said the Saudi-led coalition has dropped 200 bombs on the coastal Yemeni city of Hodeidah since US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged Riyadh to stop bombing populated areas in the war-torn country.
“This vote is about more than yet another arms sale. The Senate has a chance to stand up for innocent life, speak out against a humanitarian tragedy that is getting worse by the day, and demonstrate it will not support further destruction in Yemen,” Paul said in a statement earlier on Thursday.
Washington provides logistical support, including intelligence sharing, to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.
Last weekend, the US announced it had stopped refuelling warplanes deployed by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, a decision that was taken at the behest of Saudi Arabia, which said it could handle its own refuelling needed and no longer required US help.
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