Iraqi Prison Scandal Hits US in a Big Way

The recent uproar in the US over the torture and abuse of Iraqi prisoners in US custody is really not big 'news' in the Arab world, says this editorial in the Turkish Daily News. Although the humiliating photos circulating the globe may have "devastating consequences" for the US, writes Ilnur Cevic, the problems are seen by many in Iraq and the Middle East as just another chapter in America's mis-treatment of Iraqis and Muslims more generally. Unwarranted home searches and physical abuse have been common in Iraq since the US overthrew Saddam Hussein's government last year, he says, and people there have lost faith in any claims to humanitarian concerns voiced by Washington. Looking forward, he concludes, "We feel the harm has already been done and nothing the Americans will do can put things right." – YaleGlobal

Iraqi Prison Scandal Hits US in a Big Way

Ilnur Cevic
Wednesday, May 5, 2004

The scandal may come as a surprise to the American people but it hardly made a ripple in Iraq.

The prison scandal in Iraq has devastating consequences for the Americans who are already held in very low esteem both in the Middle East and around the world for their shabby performance in Iraq since they ousted the Saddam Hussein regime last year.

This columnist has been in and out of Iraq several times since Iraq has been "liberated" by the coalition forces led by the Americans. Our latest trip ended on Monday night and we can feel the pulse of the ordinary Iraqi very well and what we see is apathy and broken dreams about the Americans in general.

The people feel the Americans could have worked magic with Iraq but failed and some even dare say that they got a better deal during the brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein.

When people see photos showing Iraqi prisoners being abused, stacked in a pyramid or positioned to simulate sex acts with one another it does not only anger the ordinary Iraqi but inferiorities the Arab masses who feel the Americans are biased against them.

When people hear that after the scandal became public and all hell broke loose U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Richard Myers could not find time to read a report by a general documenting criminal abuses that American officials said were "sadistic, blatant and wanton" then it is only normal that they would be scandalized and feel that the U.S. is not taking this matter seriously irrespective of the reports that President Bush wants strong actions against those who were responsible for the abuses.

Bush wants to know if the abuses are widespread and what can be done to prevent them. We feel this is a sad event that shows the flaws in the American administration where there are conservatives who tend to see all Arabs and especially the Iraqis as trivial. This was clear in the way the American soldiers treated the ordinary Iraqis in Baghdad and its environs since the removal of Saddam from office. There was no compassion, no kindness or even respect for Arab traditions as homes were "searched," people were pushed around and men were beaten up in front of their wives and children. What we saw was so un-American that we too were shocked.

All these forced the Iraqi people, even those who had affection for the U.S., to call the American soldiers an invasion force and not a liberation army. This was what Iraqi leader Masoud Barzani was pointing out in a recent interview with the Associated Press.

The ugly photos may shock the American public but they will hardly come as a surprise for the Iraqis who have come to accept these abuses as fate.

We feel the harm has already been done and nothing the Americans will do can put things right.

The Americans need a serious charm campaign in Iraq as well as in the rest of the Middle East but this cannot be done as long as the U.S. turns a blind eye to the suffering of the Iraqi people, the Palestinian masses in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

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