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Cablegate: Spot Report: Bahraini Women On Abu Ghraib Pows

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS MANAMA 000732

SIPDIS

NEA/PPD MQUINN, APENDLETON; NEA/ARP CKANESHIRO; NEA/PI
AROMANOWSKI AND CBOURGEOIS, NEA/DRL, NEA/PHD, ECA/A/L
OKERR, R
SECDEF FOR OASD/PA
USCINCCENT FOR PAO AND POLAD
LONDON FOR HAMBLEY AND NKHOURY
CAIRO FOR STEVE BONDY

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OIIP KPAO KMPI KDEM KWMN PHUM BA
SUBJECT: SPOT REPORT: BAHRAINI WOMEN ON ABU GHRAIB POWS

REF: STATE 55472

1. Bahraini women from all walks of life, including
Sunni and Shia followers, have been sharing their
thoughts and feelings about the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse
with Emboffs and our Bahraini Foreign Service Nationals.
Although the region's reaction has already been heavily
reported in the press, given the importance of Arab women
to the reform process and MEPI's goals for the Women's
Empowerment Pillar (reftel, para 23), post is sharing
some of their reactions.

2. The wife of a Shura Council Member told a PAS FSN
(after telling her to quit working for the U.S. Embassy
over the issue) that she could not believe that American
women were involved in the scandal; she feels betrayed by
American women. She added, "I was a huge supporter of
Bush freeing the Iraqis from Saddam. But I've changed my
mind completely and I am truly disappointed and disgusted
with the U.S. Administration. I never thought that the
U.S. would exhibit this much violence and hatred. It
will take the Arabs generations to get over this
betrayal." Fearing for her children and grandchildren,
she added, "If this is the way that the U.S. wants to
preach democracy and human rights, then our future will
only hold further disasters and violence and there can
never be real security in the Gulf."

3. A U.S.-educated Bahraini photographer told the PAO
that she was disgusted when she saw the photos depicting
POW abuse specifically because of the participation of
American women in the acts. "You should tell your
military to pull all American female soldiers out of
Iraq. The next time an American woman is captured in
Iraq, they will do despicable things to her. And I won't
blame them after what they have done to us Arabs."
(Comment: PAO was taken aback by her bitterness since
she is a graduate of the Department of Defense Dependents
School in Bahrain and went to college in the U.S. Many
of her childhood friends and classmates were Navy
dependents with whom she is still in touch.)

4. Many of our female contacts are holding senior U.S.
government officials personally responsible. A U.S.-
educated mother decried America's "disrespect for Arab
and Islamic customs" and expressed real disappointment in
Secretary Rumsfeld's surprise visit to Abu Ghraib. "It

SIPDIS
is disgusting what these people have done when they have
told us that they are there to free Iraqis and protect
them from human rights abuses under the Saddam regime."
A young stay-at-home mom told our POLFSN, "It was really
offensive to see naked Arab men on TV being treated like
animals, the means of torture were unnecessary and
inhumane. I felt insulted, angry, and very sad. The
American Government is pushing its luck."

5. A conservative, veiled Bahraini woman of Palestinian
descent told the Educational Advisor that abuse of all
POWs is wrong no matter where it takes place. She said,
"I would be equally horrified if the same torture and
abuse were happening to an American prisoner because this
is against human rights. It is not a matter of who is to
doing what to who, as much as the injustice from a human
rights perspective."

6. Our RELO FSN, who comes from a more traditional
sector of Bahraini society, reports that virtually all
women in her majority-Shia lower income village are now
calling for the U.S. to leave Iraq unconditionally due to
the Abu Ghraib POW abuse. These women are uneducated and
lead simple lives, but they follow the news in Iraq.
During a recent gathering in the home of a relative, the
topic of conversation turned to Abu Ghraib. One
community leader summed it up for all of the women, "We
did support U.S. goals to remove Saddam. We thought it
would be a good thing. We were wrong."

NEUMANN

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