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The Darkest of Ironies: UAE & US Torture 24, April 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations, The Emirates.
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**This video is horribly graphic in places**

ABC news in America has received and released some of the video footage of a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family torturing an Afghan man. Sheikh Issa bin Zayed al Nahyan is the half- brother of the country’s crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed. He is clearly visible throughout the 45 minute video leading the group of men – including a man in police uniform – in torturing an Afghan man who he believed was trying to rip him off. Here are examples of some of the torture:

  • Shooting an automatic assault rifle into the ground inches from the bound man
  • Beating him with a cattle prod
  • Inserting a cattle prod into the man’s anus
  • Using the cattle prod on the man’s testicles
  • Setting fire to the man’s testicles with lighter fluid
  • Whilst being held down by the police officer sand is forced into his mouth, nose and eyes
  • Beating the man with wooden planks, particularly one with a nail sticking out the end
  • Salt is then poured over the man’s wounds
  • The man is repeatedly run over by the Sheikh’s huge SUV

What the ABC edited video shows is the utter sadism of Issa. From recording the video in the first place to demanding close ups “to see his suffering” to (literally) rubbing salt into his wounds, the punishment dealt to this man is horrific.

At this stage, usually one would want the world’s strongest power to come out with a forceful statement or even(!) action of some description. But, of course, America simply cannot say anything without sounds ridiculous. It does not matter that the torture carried out by Issa was infinitely worse that the equivalent in America (not that I’d like to be subjected to America’s torture…). The simple fact is that America has yet further lost its moral high ground EXACTLY when it needed it the most. And no, I am not one of those people that blame Obama and not the Bush Administration for all this. So many people seem angry that people know about the torturing not that America actually did the torturing. People’s perspective is getting hopelessly lost in part-political debates and it’s fairly sickening, especially when put into relief again the focus of this story. So far as I can see, this is simply the Bush Administration’s last shot from the grave to finally and for an exceedingly long time tarnish America’s reputation. Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo just weren’t enough for them. They have an epic amount to answer for.

The costs of war 11, March 2008

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations, Middle East.
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The cost of war is usually discussed in terms of the costs in terms of human lives; of the soldiers and civilians. However, how much does the Iraq war cost in dollars and cents? The answer, it seems, is a scarcely believable number. 

Tom Engelhardt compares the true cost of the war with what the Bush administration thought that it was going to cost at the beginning. Their estimates, Engelhardt reports ranged from $60 billion up to $200 billion (though the economic adviser who came up with this huge figure was soon looking for a new job).  

Alas these figures are ‘some way’ out, in much the same way that Pluto is ‘some way’ away from the sun. Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz has calculated that the war will cost at minimum $3 trillion and most likely, factoring in future costs, up to $5-7 trillion. Tom then nicely points out that “Bush administration was at [very] least $2,940,000,000,000 off in its calculations.”

Another article which is quoted by Engelhardt is from William Hartung, the director of the Arms and Security Initiative at the New America Foundation. He comes up with some interesting figures and concludes that the war is costing some $3.5 billion per week. Yes, that was $3.5 billion, per week. He goes on to break the costs down to manageable chunks, but first gives it a sense of proportion.


The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)*                    => $400 Million per year     => <1 day’s costs in Iraq

US spending on finding and securing loose nuclear weapons     =>  $1 Billion per year          => <2 day’s costs in Iraq

US spending on global warming                                                     => $7 Billion per year            => 2 week’s costs in Iraq 

(*This accounts for all the spending by the entire international community on the IAEA – the major international body whose job it is to regulate and keep a track on nuclear activity around the world.) 

Hartung then gives a few examples of the weekly material costs of the war.

$1.5 million for M-4 carbines (about 900 guns per week);
$2.3 million for machine guns (about 170 per week);
$4.3 million for Hellfire missiles (about 50 missiles per week);
$6.9 million for night vision devices (about 2,100 per week);
$10.8 million for fuel per week;
$5 million to store and transport that fuel per week;
$14.8 million for F-18E/F fighter planes per week (one every four weeks);
$23.4 million for ammunition per week;
$30.7 million for Bradley fighting vehicles (10 per week).