Photos of U.S. soldiers abusing Iraqi
prisoners drew international condemnation on Friday, prompting
the stark conclusion that the U.S. campaign to win the hearts
and minds of Iraqis is a lost cause.
"This is the straw that broke the camel's back for
America," said Abdel-Bari Atwan, editor of the Arab newspaper
Al Quds Al Arabi. "The liberators are worse than the
"They have not just lost the hearts and minds of Iraqis but
all the Third World and the Arab countries," he told Reuters.
The CBS News program "60 Minutes II" on Wednesday broadcast
photos taken at the Abu Ghraib prison late last year showing
American troops abusing some Iraqis held at what was once a
notorious center of torture and executions under toppled
President Saddam Hussein.
US soldiers force Iraqi prisoners to pose naked and wired for execution at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison.
The pictures showed U.S. troops smiling, posing, laughing
or giving the thumbs-up sign as naked, male Iraqi prisoners
were stacked in a pyramid or positioned to simulate sex acts
with one another.
Britain has been America's staunchest ally in Iraq but
alarm has spread over strong-arm U.S tactics, support for Prime
Minister Tony Blair has plummeted and the pictures were widely
condemned on Thursday.
"When it comes to winning hearts and minds, the U.S. Army
hasn't got a clue," wrote the Daily Mirror tabloid, one of
several British papers to splash the photos on its front page.
"Nobody underestimates how wrong this is," Blair's
spokesman told reporters. "Actions of this kind are in no way
condoned by the coalition."
The publicity could not have been worse in the Arab world
with the sexual humiliation depicted in the pictures
"That really, really is the worst atrocity," Atwan said.
"It affects the honor and pride of Muslim people. It is better
to kill them than sexually abuse them."
Saudi Arabia's English-language Arab News daily said: "The
greatest loss the Americans face is to their reputation, not
simply in the Middle East but in the world at large.
"U.S. military power will be seen for what it is, a
behemoth with the response speed of a muscle-bound ox and the
limited understanding of a mouse."
In Geneva, the International Committee of The Red Cross
"We take this extremely seriously. Torture is forbidden in
any circumstances of any person detained in the world.
Humiliation and degrading treatment is a form of torture,"
chief spokeswoman Antonella Notari told Reuters.
The photographs were splashed across many leading
newspapers in Italy, which is anxiously following the fate of
three Italians being held hostage in Iraq.
"Torture in Iraq: American horrors revealed on TV," the
left-wing L'Unita said in a headline while la Repubblica daily
said the images were "irrefutable" proof of torture.
"It wasn't psychological pressure or simple mistreatment or
illegitimate detention as in Guantanamo, but true, classic and
irrefutable torture," the paper wrote in an editorial, citing
forced, public sodomy as one of the gravest offences.
Calling for an independent inquiry, Amnesty International
said: "There is a real crisis of leadership in Iraq with double
standards and double speak on human rights.
"The prison was notorious under Saddam Hussein -- it should
not be allowed to become so again," said the human rights
"Our extensive research in Iraq suggested that this is not
an isolated incident," it said. "Detainees have reported being
routinely subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
during arrest and detention."
Additional reporting by Will Dunham in Washington,
Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva, Ghaida Ghantous in Dubai, Shasta
Darlington in Italy
© Copyright 2004 Reuters Ltd