Israel, Egypt Implicated in Torture: Middle East Reactions to Senate Report lament own Involvement

By Juan Cole | —

That the release in Washington of a dense 450 page report on CIA torture conducted a decade ago would provoke massive demonstrations in the Middle East all along struck me as unlikely. It could perhaps provoke small terrorist groups affiliated with al-Qaeda, but those groups are already plotting out attacks on US embassies and it is a little unlikely that they would suddenly be more motivated by this report, which doesn’t contain anything they did not already know or suspect.

Washington has invented its own ersatz Middle East, which bears little resemblance to the actual one, and which is mainly used to score points in inside-the-Beltway debates.

Most Egyptians appear to have been traumatized by the year (2012-2013) of Muslim Brotherhood rule, and support for the Brotherhood is likely at an all time low. They have been quite unfairly branded a terrorist organization, and groups much to their right, such as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis and al-Qaeda itself are even more unpopular and are pursued by the powerful Egyptian military. Many Egyptian youth have demonstrated against torture, and most of them don’t like it when applied to Egyptians by the military government. But since there isn’t much sympathy in Egypt for extremist fundamentalism, most Egyptians would be neither surprised nor particularly outraged that the US was torturing al-Qaeda types.

One initial reaction to the Senate report was an article in the Cairo press drawing on remarks of expatriate Egyptians, which pointed out that Egypt has been implicated in the CIA black site torture. That is, rather than anger toward the US, this article implicitly criticizes the government of then president Hosni Mubarak in Egypt itself, both for torturing and for doing it on behalf of the United States. Another such article in Tahrir News covered the whole torture scandal, So far, the main Egyptian reaction seems to be vindication that they overthrew the torturing, toadying government of Mubarak.

Meanwhile, another major US ally, Israel, was also implicated. The left-leaning daily Haaretz reported that the CIA torturers justified their actions with regard to Israeli Supreme Court rulings on the permissibility of torture.


Related video added by Juan Cole:

Social TV: ” Ishai Menuchin – On Torture in Israel”

5 Responses

  1. Wolf Blitzer was stoking the fire on possible retaliation and putting American lives in danger this morning. As if this latest expose of the CIA’s obscene practices was news to politically active people in the Middle East.

  2. Dr. Cole,
    Egyptians-traumatized by Muslim Brotherhood rule? You must be joking? After 1000 people are murdered in the streets last summer by al Sisi and his henchmen, and tens of thousands in jail, you want to attribute the trauma to the Muslim Brotherhood? Absurd. Your secular ideology is blinding you to reality.

  3. When it became obvious Mubarak was out reports indicated Hillary Clinton wanted General Suleiman to replace him.

    “Hillary Clinton Signals US Backing for Omar Suleiman: US secretary of state stresses need for orderly transition headed by vice-president” by Julian Borger in Munich – link to and “Death of Suleiman: Egypt’s revolution outlives its torturers: Mubarak’s former spy chief and deputy was a divisive figure, and a stalwart of the former administration.” By Omar Ashour – link to

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