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Torture of a Kuwaiti: Minister resigns 17, January 2011

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Kuwait.
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Last week a Kuwaiti, Mohammad Ghazzai al-Mutair,  died in a police station as a result of “excessive torture”. He had been arrested in Ahamdi in Kuwait’s south transporting 24 bottles of Whiskey; something that is wholly illegal in Kuwait.

An opposition MP who investigated the claim said that he had been ‘brutally tortured and had a stick inserted into his anus’ and he arrived at hospital with his hands and feet tied.

The Kuwaiti Minister of Interior, Sheikh Jabir Al Sabah, submitted his resignation after persistent demands, while 5 policemen have been suspended.

While there are many serious flaws with Kuwait’s Parliament and issues with its ingrained rentireism (as I often note), there cannot be many Arab countries where their national print media would have followed such a case and where the national representative body could force the resignation of a Royal Minister.

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Rove ‘proud’ of US waterboarding policy 12, March 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations.
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Karl Rove, the man many consider to be the brain behind George W Bush’s Presidency, has said that he is ‘proud‘ of the techniques such as waterboarding used by US authorities to obtain information as they saved lives. He also denied that waterboarding was torture. However, he is in a seemingly ever decreasing minority, holding that opinion. The journalist Christopher Hitchens, for example, underwent waterboarding in the name of research and unequivocally insists that it is indeed torture.

Waterboarding certainly looks fairly innocuous. All it involves, after all, is a flannel or cloth and a surprisingly small amount of water. Whilst clearly the torture that many human rights groups insist goes on routinely in many Arab (and Iranian) jails involves more ‘wailing and gnashing of teeth’ i.e. more blood, this does – obviously enough – not negate waterboarding as a form of torture in and of itself.

UAE torture Sheikh acquitted 14, January 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations, The Emirates.
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I haven’t commented on the recent  judicial decision to acquit Shiekh Issa bin Zayad Al Nayhan of all torture charges in the UAE, mostly because it is practically too depressing for words. I’ll just jot down a few thoughts.

  • Five of the seven men present when the man was being tortured were sentenced, including an Indian, a Syrian and a Palestinian.
  • That is to say that the man who ran over him with a car, stuffed a cattle prod up his anus, stuffed sand in his mouth, set his genitals alight, hit him with a stick with a nail in the end, poured salt – quite literally – over his wounds has not been sentenced at all.
  • Sheikh Issa was found not guilty because he was ‘drugged’ at the time and an Indian cook at his house has been sentenced to three years in jail for aiding in this dastardly plot
  • To my knowledge, no medical evidence has been shown of drugs in Issa’s system
  • This time last year the US signed a sharing nuclear technology deal with the Emirates
  • Sheikh Issa is the brother of the ruler of Abu Dhabi who is also the President of the United Arab Emirates…you know…the Khalifah as in Burj Khalifah
  • The Afghan man who was tortured was given a large out of court settlement by the family of Shiekh Issa. He – amazingly – agrees with Sheikh Issa that the torture was, in fact, not Issa’s fault
  • The defense council (of the two men ‘guilty’ of drugging Issa) offered “two hours of videos of Shiekh Issa torturing other men” but this was not accepted into evidence.
  • I’ll say that again: THERE IS APPARENTLY AT LEAST TWO HOURS OF FOOTAGE OF ISSA TORTURING AT LEAST 20 (TWENTY} OTHER MEN.

The verdict is a farce, and shows why the world should have no confidence in the [United Arab Emirates’] justice system. This was a show trial, held completely in secret, with one objective: to relieve international pressure on the ruling family so that the pending military treaty with the U.S. would go forward. The fact is, and the evidence is clear, Sheikh Issa tortured numerous people and he ordered the torture to be videotaped. The sheikh’s abhorrent behavior also was not isolated. I offered the U.A.E. authorities additional videotape indicating that at least 20 other people were tortured by the sheikh. […] The Obama administration, like the Bush administration, continues to coddle the U.A.E. and look past serious human rights and security concerns there.

Tony Buzbee – Defense lawyer

Uday Hussein: worse than a psychopath 3, December 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Iraq.
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This link leads to an excerpt of an interview with a former army body double of Uday Hussein, one of Saddam Hussein’s sons. Latif Yahia, the solider in question, describes Uday as far worse than a psychopath, for example, turning a beautiful woman into little more than a ‘barely breathing hunk of meat’.

I am sure and believe 100% that Uday Hussein was a vicious and sadistic killer. However, I am not overly sure how much I believe  this man’s testimony. Firstly, it is obviously in his best  financial interest to make the stories as gory and over the top as possible. The worse the stories, the more sensationalist media (and the BBC…) will be interested in interviewing him and, perhaps, the better his book sales. Secondly, he claims that he escaped Iraq with the help from the CIA. This is either a part of the first reason, the CIA being quite a buzz-word for editors, or it could be suggested that he must make his stories interesting and gruesome for them too: he needs to prove worthy after they expended so much energy and money getting him out. Thirdly, Yahia just comes across, to me at least, as not totally believable. This isn’t based on too much, just a gut reaction when watching the clip. Feel free to comment if you feel I’m being unfair…

UAE Torture, the Divine Right of Kings and Qatar 10, May 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Qatar, The Emirates.
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Do see my latest article over the Egypt Daily News “UAE Torture, the Divine Right of Kings and Qatar”  discussing Gulf society in light of the recent UAE torture scandle…

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.

Torture doesn’t work 23, April 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations.
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Ben Makintyre at The Times of London offers a compelling and persuasive  argument for why torture simply does not work. Here are a few choice excerpts.

The key example is Ibn Shaykh al-Libi, a Libyan al-Qaeda trainer captured in Pakistan in 2002. He denied knowing of any links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda, but, under torture, “remembered” that Iraq had trained Islamic terrorists in the use of weapons of mass destruction. His evidence formed the centrepiece of George W. Bush’s pre-invasion speech: “We’ve learnt that Iraq has trained al-Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and gases.” Al-Libi’s “confession” was entirely false, but by the time the CIA retracted the claim, the war was under way…

Violence is taboo,” wrote Robin “Tin Eye” Stephens, the fearsome monocled martinet who ran Britain’s wartime interrogation centre in London. “Not only does it produce answers to please, but it lowers the standard of information.” Torture fuels insurgency, as the French discovered in Algeria. The extreme violence of the second intifada has been directly linked to the mistreatment of Palestinian prisoners after the first. Britain discovered from its experience battling the IRA that violent repression could be profoundly counter-productive.

Saudi execution rate up to two per day 14, October 2008

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Saudi Arabia.
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A new amnesty report states that Saudi Arabia are executing prisoners at a rate of more than two per day. The Kingdom does not release official figures but Amnesty themselves have recorded 1695 executions between 1985 and May 2008. As if this is not bad enough, it transpires that foreigners make up a disproportionately large number of these executions. Despite being only 25% of the population, 830 of those executed were foreigners, nearly 50% of the total.

Amnesty further charge that the trials are held in secret and the defendants are not necessarily provided with a lawyer and might not even be able to understand the proceedings. Additionally, whilst pardons are granted on some occasions, Saudi nationals are eight times more likely to get away with it through the paying of blood money. There are, as ever, the usual protestations regarding the use of torture in Saudi police stations to obtain confessions to top off a thoroughly depressing report.