Conflict & Justice

Who was behind one US paper's controversial Bahrain op-ed?

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Bahraini anti-government protesters run for cover from tear gas during clashes with riot police near the headquarters of the main Shiite opposition group, Al-Wefaq, in Zinj Village, west of Manama, on December 23, 2011.

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A powerful weapons manufacturer, a Washington newspaper and a repressive Gulf regime.

They all come together in today's important piece from Salon, which uncovers the story behind a fawning Op-Ed on Bahrain’s ruling sheikh in the right-leaning Washington Times on Nov. 30, 2011:

A top executive at Lockheed Martin recently worked with lobbyists for Bahrain to place an Op-Ed defending the nation’s embattled regime in the Washington Times — but the newspaper did not reveal the role of the regime’s lobbyists to its readers.

The episode shows, the piece continues:

… how Lockheed gave an assist to a major client — Bahrain has bought hundreds of millions of dollars of weapons from the company over the years – as it faces widespread criticism for human rights abuses against pro-democracy protesters.

Late last year, the US put the brakes on a $53 million arms deal with the Bahrain government following international pressure to halt the deal until Bahrain showed concrete steps toward reform. 

At least 30 people were killed in a violent crackdown on popular protests that began last February.