By Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban
At last, it has been acknowledged that Western intelligence agencies tortured innocent people for years in the notorious Guantanamo prison. The admission came through the British government's decision to pay compensation to 16 Muslims arrested without charges in Guantanamo. They suffered all forms of brutal torture since 2003, including abusing their religion and its sanctities and symbols.
A number of sources have revealed that the British government preferred to settle the case out of court for fear of "having to hand over more confidential documents to the court; for one such document showed that former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair and his Foreign Secretary Jack Straw were involved in the Guantanamo case". (Aljazeera.net, Nov. 17).
Since the victims are Muslims, those who arrested them without any justification will not be brought to account, as was the case with Bush, Rumsfeld and the Zionist clique controlling the corridors of power in the White House and Congress responsible for killing a million Iraqi children through the sanctions and a million Iraqi civilians during the war on Iraq, and by giving al-Qaeda and terrorism a free hand to destabilize the Middle East. Omar Deghayes, said he was tortured in Pakistan in the presence of a "representative of a British intelligence agency". The "representative" also went to the Bagram prison and made numerous accusations against him after which he was moved to Guantanamo.
Sources say that many intelligence agencies, not only in Britain, but in a number of Western countries, were involved in crimes of torture and illegal extradition of prisoners to be subjected to the torture techniques legitimized by Rumsfeld, which continue to be practiced today in public and secret prisons of Western and Israeli intelligence agencies.
At the same time, an American court found Ahmed Ghailani, the first prisoner in Guantanamo to be tried, after years of illegal imprisonment, in a civil court not guilty of crimes of murder and terrorism. The question is: who compensates human beings for years of brutal torture during which their bodies have been abused beyond endurance and their dignity insulted? How can any money compensate for that?
But the more important question is: will these admissions lead to a serious revision of the laws passed after 9/11, which allowed for all these countries to arrest and torture without being held accountable; or will these 16 cases be just a way of covering these practices with a thin layer of 'justice' and 'democracy'?
This incident coincided with a call by Republican Congressman Buck McKeon, who is likely to chair the Congress Armed Forces Committee next year, to broaden the authorities of the 26 American intelligence agencies "to arrest individuals for unlimited periods of time without trial". This proves the propaganda aspects of these compensations, which does not change the criminal nature of this official terrorism.
The fact that Ghailani was found not guilty in 280 charges, for instance, should raise concerns and doubts about the American strategy in the war on terror and all the laws passed in this regard.
All the revealed facts about Western policies and strategies towards Arabs and Muslims prove beyond any doubt the racist nature of these policies and the politicians behind them. The essence of these policies is an imperialist one which sees Muslims as inferior and shows no regard to their lives, or to the security and stability of their countries.
This is the real face of the American policies which have destroyed Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and which are destabilizing Sudan, Lebanon and Yemen and are in the process of taking what is left of Palestine. These destabilization campaigns start under different names but have one goal: implementing the Zionist project which aims at making the Middle East divided on sectarian, ethnic and religious lines, so that its states become similar to the extremist Zionist entity.
The American Secretary of State recently offered the Sudanese government to remove it from the terrorist list and reduce the sanctions against Sudan if it "cooperated in conducting the referendum in a quiet and appropriate manner". A few weeks ago, the Secretary had stressed that the "outcome of the referendum is unequivocal, which is the separation of the south". This means that the American terrorist list is nothing but a political instrument used in order to fragment Arab countries and destabilize them. It is also used to blackmail Arab countries and subject them to Israeli hegemony. American foreign policy is based on accusing Arab countries of terrorism, then bargaining over dropping these charges for a price which is usually in the best interest of Israel.
The United States has been making efforts and spending generously for decades in order to divide Sudan into religious and ethnic states after it succeeded in spreading sectarianism in the political entities it controls and occupies in the Middle East, so that the 'Jewish state' is no longer an oddity in this East which has been characterized by peaceful coexistence between the three religions and other sects and ethnicities for thousands of years. Together with India, the region represents a model of peaceful sectarian, religious and ethnic diversity and pluralism.
The crimes of Israeli occupation are also unraveling, despite all the efforts made in the United States and Europe to cover them up. An Israeli website has revealed the names and numbers of over 200 criminals who took part in killing innocents and encouraged others to kill them in Gaza during the Brutal Israeli attack in 2008-2009. The list includes names of officers and officials, most prominently Israeli Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi (Yediot Ahronoth, 18 November 2010). So, are these criminals going to compensate people whose children, husbands and wives they have killed? Are they going to pay compensation for the destruction of schools, uprooting trees, poisoning water wells and destroying farms? Or is it another attempt to bestow 'democracy' and 'justice' on reactionary racist regimes which carry out the ugliest kinds of murder, torture and religious persecution against Muslims?
Prof. Bouthaina Shaaban is Political and Media Advisor at the Syrian Presidency, and former Minister of Expatriates. She is also a writer and professor at Damascus University since 1985. She has a Ph.D. in English Literature from Warwick University. She was the spokesperson for Syria. She was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. She can be reached through [email protected]
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.