The Middle East Channel

The United States faces new allegations of waterboarding

The United States faces new allegations of waterboarding

Human Rights Watch has released a report claiming wider use by the United States of waterboarding than previously reported. The 156-page report, "Delivered Into Enemy Hands: U.S.-led Abuse and Rendition of Opponents to Gaddafi’s Libya" includes interviews with 14 Libyans, most part of the anti-Qaddafi Islamic fighting group, who claim they were detained by the United States in various locations including Afghanistan and Pakistan and then sent back to Libya around 2004. The prisoners described their abuse at the hands of their interrogators, and it matched descriptions of waterboarding. The report has not been verified, but counters U.S. assertions that merely three high-level terrorism suspects, all members of al-Qaeda, were subjected to waterboarding. It also suggests cooperation with former Libyan dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi, saying the C.I.A, British M16, and other western intelligence organizations delivered "Gaddafi his enemies on a silver platter." The report has come out days after the U.S. Justice Department closed the investigation of two detainees who died while in C.I.A. custody.

Syria

In an interview that aired on Thursday, President Vladimir Putin said Russia would not change its stance on Syria after vetoing three U.N. Security Council Resolutions aimed at curtailing the crisis. Putin said, "Maybe our partners in the negotiation process should re-evaluate their position." He then insinuated that the United States was using militants to help topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, drawing parallels to U.S. support for the mujahideen in Afghanistan who fought against Soviet forces during the Cold War. Meanwhile, the bombardment of Aleppo has continued as the opposition insist they will keep fighting, despite rumors of an impending retreat. Syrian forces have recaptured a town on the border with Jordan from the opposition. According to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, hundreds of Syrian troops backed by 20 tanks attacked the town of Tel Chebah, which has been used by refugees to cross into Jordan. It appeared to be an attempt to stem the flow of Syrians escaping the civil war. The United Nations reported 100,000 fled Syria just in August. Jordan says about 1,000 people cross into Jordan daily.

Headlines  

  • An ammunition depot explosion in western Turkey Wednesday night killed 25 soldiers and injured four in what was reported as an accident.
  • A refugee boat with immigrants, some who were from Iraq and Syria, sank off the coast of Turkey killing at least 39 people.
  • Amid suspicions that Iran is supplying arms to the Syrian regime, the United States is urging Iraq to inspect all Iranian planes flying over its territory.
  • To appease pro-Israel groups and counter Republican criticism, President Obama pushed the Democratic Party to change its platform to declare Jerusalem the Israeli capital.
  • Two Israeli strikes on Gaza killed six people who Israel claims were militants. Gazan officials say were civilians.

Arguments and Analysis 

Israel and the US: Shared values and interests‘ (Tzipi Livni, The Jerusalem Post)

"As a minister in various Israeli governments, I witnessed disputes with the American administration.

At times, particularly as foreign minister, I even played an active part in them. However, we always knew how to keep disagreements within the room; we always knew that the relationship between Israel and the United States was critical to the State of Israel and that the relationship had to be kept strong and bipartisan. Now, more than ever, we must keep this relationship strong, close, intimate and bipartisan, especially given the changing Middle East, seen by some as an Arab Spring and by others as an Islamic Winter."

Who is held to account for deaths by drone in Yemen?‘ (Chris Woods, The Guardian)

"When news flashed of an air strike on a vehicle in the Yemeni city of Radaa on Sunday afternoon, early claims that al-Qaida militants had died soon gave way to a more grisly reality.

At least 10 civilians had been killed, among them women and children. It was the worst loss of civilian life in Yemen’s brutal internal war since May 2012. Somebody had messed up badly. But was the United States or Yemen responsible?"

Only bombing Assad’s forces will stop the slaughter now’ (Amos Yaldin, The Independent)

"A gradual military intervention along the lines of the Libyan model of a Western aerial campaign seems the most effective response to the Syrian crisis. Only if Assad assesses that Western intervention is a real threat might he abdicate and make room for leadership with better prospects for halting the violence. The West must not let unfounded fears guide its policy while atrocities in Syria continue."

–By Jennifer Parker and Mary Casey