Repatriation of Yemeni Detainees a Significant Step Toward Closing Gitmo
The news today that the Obama administration has arranged for the repatriation of six Yemeni detainees from the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay suggests a breakthrough in what’s long been a major obstacle to closing the notorious U.S. prison.
The Washington Post reports that the transfer may be just the first step toward releasing many more of the 97 Yemenis still imprisoned at Gitmo. Until now, the Obama administration has been reluctant to return them to their home country, citing security concerns. Yemen has a weak central government and is widely considered a haven for terrorists. But the administration’s inability to figure out what to do with the Yemenis, about 34 of whom have been cleared for release, has been a major obstacle to the president’s efforts to close down the prison camp.
The Post reports that the Yemeni government has recently stepped up its efforts to fight terrorists within its borders, and has received encouragement and praise on that front from the U.S. government.
Still, some Republicans are already criticizing the return of any detainees to Yemen as too risky. During his tenure, President George W. Bush administration released 15 Yemeni terror suspects from Guantanamo to Yemen. President Obama so far has only released one.