The United Arab Emirates, an occupying force, is running a secret network of prisons in Yemen, where prisoners are routinely and brutally tortured. According to the Associated Press, the UAE runs at least 18 clandestine prisons across southern Yemen.
The secret prisons are located inside military bases, within port facilities, in an airport, in private villas and even in what used to be a nightclub. Additionally, some detainees have been flown to an Emirati base across the Red Sea in Eritrea. In these prison facilities, the most horrific forms of torture are common. Former detainees report beatings, floggings and sexual assault as common practices.
Former inmates have reported how they were smeared with feces, flogged with wires, locked inside a smoke-filled container with a fire burning, tied to a spit and spun in a circle of fire. “We could hear the screams,” said a former detainee, who spent half a year in a prison located at Riyan airport near the city of Mukalla in eastern Yemen. “Almost everyone is sick,” while the remaining are “near death.”
According to the families of the prisoners and the attorneys representing them, nearly 2,000 men have disappeared into the secret prisons. This has triggered many protests among families seeking information about missing sons, brothers and fathers.
Anyone familiar with the relationship between the U.S. and the ultra-reactionary Gulf monarchies invading and bombing Yemen might guess that Washington has a hand in this. Recent reports by Human Rights Watch and confirmed by the AP show just that. U.S. forces have interrogated prisoners in these secret prisons. The way it works is that the U.S. military provides lists of questions for the detainees it is interested in and receives transcripts of the interrogations done at the prison sites. To date, there is no evidence of a U.S. direct involvement in the torture. It seems that the U.S. is outsourcing the torture to the UAE and others.
Yemen has been embroiled in a political crisis and a multi-sided conflict for years. In 2015, following significant gains by Houthi rebels, Saudi Arabia, along with the UAE and other Gulf monarchies invaded Yemen. Relentless bombings have taken thousands of Yemeni lives, leaving the country in deplorable conditions, with widespread hunger and malnutrition and an outbreak of cholera.
The United States has consistently asserted that it is not directly involved in the conflict. Even if true, since the Saudi-led invasion began, the U.S. has provided targeting intelligence, logistical assistance and other aid to the Saudis.
Despite the fact that the invasion has been ongoing for two years and despite the resulting humanitarian crisis, the U.S. corporate media have scarcely covered this occupation. Coverage of the conflict, of course, would shed a negative light on U.S. clients in the region, Saudi Arabia, UAE and other reactionary gulf monarchies. In the U.S. more people hear about the purported Iranian intervention in Yemen than that actual Saudi-led bloody invasion.
The recent trip by President Trump to Saudi Arabia, the party atmosphere Trump enjoyed within the house of Saud and the $100 billion plus weapons purchase leave little doubt about who the U.S. allies are in the Middle East. But we must not forget that U.S. policy towards reactionary Gulf monarchies have been consistent for decades. The only difference is Obama and other Democrats continue the same policy while periodically engaging in self-righteous calls for more democracy, while Republicans tend to drop that pretense.
The people of Yemen must be allowed to resolve their conflict without foreign intervention. The Saudi-led, U.S.-supported invasion has only exacerbated a difficult situation. Torture chambers and bombings of civilians are not the solution to this crisis.
End the occupation of Yemen! U.S. out of the Middle East!