Zero Dark Baghdad? Saudi Detainees in Iraqi Guantanamo………….


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“Twenty Saudi detainees in Iraqi prisons were tortured after the Iraqi national team lost the Gulf Cup football tournament to the UAE in a match supervised by a Saudi referee, according to Thamer Balheed, head of the Saudi detainees in Iraq. Balheed told Al Arabiya TV that the Saudi prisoners were severely beaten and insulted by Iraqi prison guards who blamed the Saudi referee for their national team’s 1-2 defeat to the UAE. A sport commentator on an Iraqi television network lost his temper during the match, issuing live prayers against Saudi referee Khalil al-Ghamdi and accusing him of being unfair to Iraq. Iraq and Saudi Arabia have recently resumed security cooperation talks, including discussion on a prisoners exchange deal. This came after a Saudi man was released from an Iraqi jail and said he was tortured by Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Balheed has previously stated that up to 60 Saudi detainees are being held in Iraqi prisons. He noted that they are being kept in different prisons and are all staying in deplorable conditions and exposed to various forms of torture…………….”

This would be a terrible story, if it were (completely) true. Yet it is hard to credit a story of Iraqis torturing Saudi prisoners because they lost a game to Emiratis. Especially if the source is the Saudi semi-official Alarabiya network. I am against both torture and the death penalty: they are both barbaric no matter who inflicts it and who is at the receiving end.

I doubt that any of these Saudis entered Iraq to visit the shrines in Karbala. The Iraqis suspect that most of them snuck (okay, sneaked) in illegally to bomb and murder Iraqi civilians. As they and their other Al-Qaeda colleagues from various Arab states have been doing in Iraq for 12 years. I also suspect that the headlining is partly aimed at creating more hostility toward Iraqi Arabs inside the Arabian Peninsula. However, I can be wrong: torture has been common in Iraq for decades, its art perfected by the Baath Party. So have executions, and the new regime in Baghdad is an avid executioner: as avid as Iran and Saudi Arabia and Texas. It is hard to give up old habits.

Of course, the Saudis automatically quickly behead any foreigner they suspect of plotting terrorism on their soil. I can give a long list of that. I can also give a long list of those beheaded on charges of witchcraft and sorcery and magic and fortune-telling and interpreting dreams (both dry and wet), among other things. And the regime, and the system, are have been at it longer.

On the other hand I saw the film Thirty Dark Zero yesterday. It is about the CIA allegedly torturing its way throughout several little Guantanomos around the world. Torturing its way toward Osama Bin Laden and his merry little band of terrorists (and a bunch of their poor innocent children) in AbbottAndCostelloAbad, Pakistan.