Human rights absent in Bahrain-US bilateral agreement

  • Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa visited Washington on Wednesday, 13 September 2023, and signed a bilateral agreement with the United States, known as the Comprehensive Security Integration and Prosperity Agreement or C-SIPA.

  • The agreement, which expands defense, economic, and technological co-operation between the two countries fails to seek any human rights commitments from Bahrain, which has become “one of the Middle East’s most repressive states” according to Freedom House.

  • During his visit, the Crown Prince met with National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and is expected to meet Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

  • Although the White House stated that “Human rights are a key part of the U.S.-Bahrain Strategic Dialogue, as well as an integral part of the President’s National Security Strategy”, there was no mention of human rights and freedom in the text of the treaty and only passing mentions in following remarks by Secretary Blinken.

  • Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Advocacy Director at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), commented:

“Giving an unconditional deal to Bahrain while it jails hundreds of political prisoners, some imprisoned since 2011 for protesting against the dictatorship, should be an act of shame for the US administration, not celebration.

This deal clearly demonstrated that the Biden administration is siding with the Bahraini regime while abandoning political prisoners and the most desire for basic human rights.

The tangential references to human rights and the absence of any commitments in the deal reflects the Biden administration’s double talk where it “applies” human rights values on regimes they do not have close ties with.”

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