By: Daniel Larison
While the UAE and its proxies attack Hodeidah in northern Yemen, the Emirati government is also torturing Yemeni detainees in the occupied south:
Witnesses said Yemeni guards working under the direction of Emirati officers have used various methods of sexual torture and humiliation. They raped detainees while other guards filmed the assaults. They electrocuted prisoners’ genitals or hung rocks from their testicles. They sexually violated others with wooden and steel poles.
The UAE and its proxies have been brutally abusing Yemenis in these prisons for years, and they have done so in the name of “counter-terrorism.” The U.S. government feigns ignorance about what the Emiratis are doing, but it continues to work with the UAE in Yemen and it strains credulity that no one from our military knows what is being done to these detainees. According to the AP report, it is likely that some American military personnel are aware of what is happening:
In the same city, at the UAE-run prison inside the Buriqa military base, two prisoners told the AP they think that American personnel in uniform must be aware of the torture – either because they have heard screams or seen marks of torture.” Prisoners said that they haven’t seen Americans directly involved in the abuse.
“Americans use Emiratis as gloves to do their dirty work,” said one senior security official at the Riyan Prison in the city of Mukalla. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of security concerns.
At best, the U.S. is ignoring a lot of evidence that one of its “partners” is torturing its prisoners in Yemen. If the U.S. knows about and tolerates this, it is complicit in violations of international law and human rights abuses. While all of this is going on, our government continues to provide unstinting support to the UAE’s military campaign in Yemen.
These are just the latest allegations of horrific abuses committed by the UAE and their proxies. The Associated Press previously reported about torture in UAE-run prisons last year:
Hundreds of men swept up in the hunt for al-Qaida militants have disappeared into a secret network of prisons in southern Yemen where abuse is routine and torture extreme — including the “grill,” in which the victim is tied to a spit like a roast and spun in a circle of fire, an Associated Press investigation has found.
In addition to the obvious immorality and illegality of these abuses, the torture of detainees is a guaranteed way to strengthen terrorist organizations:
The UAE’s control over southern Yemen, and the prisons, has left many Yemenis worried that innocent civilians are being pushed into the arms of the very extremists that Emirati forces claim they are fighting.
“In the prisons, they are committing the most brutal crimes,” said a Yemeni commander currently in Riyadh. “Joining ISIS and al-Qaida became a way to take revenge for all the sexual abuses and sodomization. From here, the prisons, they are manufacturing ISIS.”
The UAE is likely creating many more terrorists with its brutal treatment of Yemeni detainees, and it is subjecting countless Yemenis to horrifying abuse while it occupies part of the country that they and their coalition allies are busy wrecking and starving. Even if the U.S. is not directly involved in the torture of Yemenis at the hands of the UAE, it appears to be tacitly allowing appalling crimes to be committed because the perpetrator is deemed to be one of our “allies.”