Human RightsIraqNorth AmericaQasem Suleimani

Abu Ghraib: The mark of shame US can’t lose after 17 yrs

April 22 will mark the 17th anniversary of the United States’ capture of the Abu Ghraib prison west of the Iraqi capital that went on to bear witness to unchecked murderous and sadistic torture by American forces under Washington’s tutelage.

A torture chamber under ex-Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, the facility retained its function throughout the American control from 2003 to 2006, when it held many thousands of people, including as many as 3,800 detainees at the height of the scandal.

However, only a year after its capture, primetime international broadcasts and wide-circulation reportages began to reveal that its new tenants were outdoing the former Iraqi dictator’s atrocities there by far.

The revisited bestiality this time ran the gamut of inhumanity, from torture —featuring physical and sexual abuse as well as rape and sodomy — all the way up to murder.

Discovery of damning photos showing troops abusing inmates on a CD-ROM led to an investigation into the case and far-reaching coverage, including one by CBS News’ “60 Minutes II” in 2004, a report by The New Yorker in the same year, and a 2006 reportage by Australian television network SBS’s program “Dateline.”

The very first year of the American control over the prison witnessed the death of one detainee, while the rest of the atrocities were grave enough to secure even the then-secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld’s description as “blatantly sadistic, cruel, and inhuman.”

These included punching, slapping, and kicking detainees, forcing them into embarrassing conditions and recording them, keeping them naked, other instances of sexual abuse as grave as rape, unleashing guard dogs onto them, and taking photographs of dead detainees.

In May 2004, the US Justice Department announced that it was looking into three suspicious deaths of detainees, two in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, and the involvement of the US spy agency CIA and contractors in the deaths.

Eleven US forces were convicted of crimes relating to the goings-on in the prison in 2003. They were mostly given several-months-long prison sentences during legal procedures that took as long as eight years.

The convicts included only one officer, who was eventually cleared of all wrongdoing, and had the conviction and reprimand removed from his record.

After the 2003 invasion, the United States and its allies went on to sow such chaos in the Arab country that turned it into a breeding ground for sectarian violence and Takfiri terrorism.

In 2014, the US reconstructed the invasion by rolling into the country at the vanguard of scores of Washington-friendly states under the guise of defeating the Takfiri terror group of Daesh that had risen amid the chaos.

The coalition sustains its presence, although, Baghdad and its allies defeated Daesh in late 2017.

In January, the US left another indelible dark spot in Iraq’s memory by staging an unauthorized drone attack against Baghdad. The attack assassinated Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of the Popular Mobilization Units, or Hashd al-Sha’abi Iraqi anti-terror force, and a number of others.

The attack came while General Soleimani was on an official trip in the Iraqi capital at Baghdad’s request.

The assassinations were followed by thousands-strong funeral processions and protests across both Iran and Iraq in honor of the commanders and condemnation of the US’s nearly two decades of deadly interference in the region.

Only days after the attack, the Iraqi parliament voted in favor of a law mandating full withdrawal of all foreign forces.

Speaking to Baghdad Today news website on Wednesday, Iraq’s Prime Minister-designate Mustafa al-Kadhimi expressed his resolve bring an end to any illegal presence of foreign boots on the ground in the Arab country, saying Baghdad will soon hold talks with Washington in this regard.

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