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US moral defeat in Abu Ghraib, says commander

Muawia E. Ibrahim
Filed on November 29, 2004

ABU DHABI General John Abizaid, Commanding General of the US Central Command, acknowledged here yesterday that the US had suffered a defeat when the humiliating pictures of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib were recently released.


Answering a Khaleej Times question, Gen. Abizaid said: "It is a question that deserves some honest answer. We've been fighting three years of war in the region where we never really suffered a military defeat anywhere. But in Abu Ghraib we did suffer a defeat. It was a defeat of our own values."

The US military commander added in his broken Arabic: "I think you know that I am an Arab American and it is very important to me that we treat all people with dignity and respect in this region. When our people cross the line we will hold them accountable and we have held them accountable."

Gen. Abizaid was talking to newsmen on the purpose of his tour of the region.

On the situation in the region, he said he expected more fighting ahead in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

"I expect that there would be more fighting ahead in these countries against extremism."

On statistics on casualties, he failed to give a clear answer saying that it was not the US military intent to count the casualties.

He said in Afghanistan and Iraq US forces had lost over 1,300 so far.

"But whatever casualties we will have to bear them. That is the only choice to defeat this enemy. It is a mistake for people to think that we will be driven out because of casualties."

Denying that his recent statement was a threat message to Iran, Gen. Abizaid said: "We are not making any threat here. We are making it very clear that we have our military capability to do our mission in the region and for that we need cooperation not confrontation." On the bilateral relations with the UAE, Gen. Abizaid said the two countries have a very close relationship in terms of military exercise and military cooperation.

"I think that our bilateral military ties are among the strongest in the region. We have a close working relationship that are mutually beneficial for both the nations and I am always anxious to come here and talk to my colleagues regarding the important issues facing the region here."

He said he was to meet senior officials of the UAE.




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