JUNE 29, 2015
U.S. Lifts Ban on Bahrain Aid
By MICHAEL R. GORDON
The Obama administration on Monday lifted its ban on security assistance to Bahrain that was imposed after the nation's crackdown on demonstrators  in 2011.
The move will allow the United States to provide antitank missiles, Humvees, ammunition and small arms to Bahrain's military and national guard.
The United States is still maintaining its hold on equipment for the Interior Ministry, which is involved in internal security.
John Kirby, the State Department spokesman, said that the administration did not believe that the human rights situation in Bahrain was adequate. But American officials asserted that Bahrain had made progress on human rights reforms, including by releasing a prominent opposition leader, Ibrahim Sharif,  after four years in custody.
The Persian Gulf nation is also home to the United States Fifth Fleet, and is a member of the American-led coalition against the Islamic State.
"Bahrain is an important and longstanding ally on regional security issues," Mr. Kirby said in a statement. "Following the lift of these holds, we will continue to press Bahrain on our human rights concerns."
Human Rights Watch criticized the move, noting in a statement that Bahrain had continued to crack down on other opposition figures, including Sheikh Ali Salman, secretary general of the Shiite opposition party Al Wefaq, who was recently sentenced to prison.
The detention of Mr. Salman was also noted last week in the State Department's recent survey of human rights.