Pentagon denies knowledge of prisoner abuse by US-backed forces in Yemen, but doubts linger
A recently unclassified version of a report from the US Department of Defense to Congress claims the Pentagon doesn’t know anything about the alleged abuse of detainees in Yemen.
The denial contradicts reports from journalists, accounts of former prisoners, human rights groups, and even a UN panel, which allege the existence of a well-established system of torture, including by US-backed forces. This refers particularly to United Arab Emirates troops, which are part of the Saudi-led military campaign in impoverished Yemen.
According to the damning UN report issued last August, an unfortunate individual who ended up in a UAE-controlled prison was subjected to virtually all forms of abuse, including being “beaten, electrocuted” and even “drowned.” The UAE denies the allegations and claims it has never run any secret prisons in Yemen.
Meanwhile, the US military admitted it has indeed been conducting “intelligence interrogations of detainees held in partner custody,” but claims it has not seen any of the aforementioned abuse.
“Based on information to-date, DoD has not developed any independent, credible information indicating that US allies or partners have abused detainees in Yemen,” the Department of Defense report said.
The strong denial on the Pentagon’s part might signal its own involvement there, not just a desire to shield its allies from criticism, Kim Sharif, the director of Human Rights for Yemen, says.
“Both the US and Britain and other international community members have openly admitted that they are providing intelligence and logistics to the Saudi-led coalition – basically, military advice. I believe they are turning a blind eye to it because they may well be the ones who are advising the doing of things in this particular way,” Sharif told RT.
Robert Naiman, policy director of Just Foreign Policy, argues that the Pentagon has a “long track record of lies” regarding its involvement in the Yemeni war. The only thing which can change the situation is ceasing any US support to the UAE and Saudi Arabia completely, according to Naiman.
“The Pentagon has been lying for years about what the US has been doing in Yemen, claimed that it wasn’t supporting the Saudi war with direct military assistance, with refueling [the coalition aircraft]. Claimed it was doing something to reduce the Saudi bombing of civilians which clearly it wasn’t,” Naiman told RT.
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