Ever since news broke last night that two detainees of Yemeni origin have been resettled in Ghana after spending years in Guantanamo Bay prison, tongues have been wagging about what the Ghanaian government might have taken in return for harboring the two men. Why Ghana? Why not Oregon? After all, Mahmud Umar Muhammad bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih al-Dhuby were beneficiaries of America’s “hospitality” at Gitmo, weren’t they? Why then should they not continue to enjoy that hospitality on mainland American soil? Why is America outsourcing its problems and ‘mistakes’ to Africa? Because Americans don’t folks tainted by claims of terrorism – proven or otherwise – living in their “backyard”. Do Ghanaians?
Ghana’s foreign ministry – headed by Hanna Tetteh – released a statement saying that the two detainees had been cleared of any charges involving terrorism and that although absolved, the pair are unable to return to their home country. In two years, they will be free to leave Ghana, (to where, I wonder) and in the interim they will have their movements “monitored”. This claim that Ghana has the capacity to monitor anything has elicited ridicule from the population at large. We can’t get our voter’s register in order, nor do our computer systems have the capacity to enroll the correct number of students in secondary schools around the country (see Wesley Girls), but we can monitor the movement of two highly trained, hardened Gitmo detainees? The only way this works is if America provides the manpower, training and equipment to make that possible. And perhaps that’s what it all comes down to: incentives and gifts.
The move is being hailed as a partnership between Ghana and the USA, with the former given kudos for “its humanitarian gesture and willingness to support ongoing US efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility,” However, we all know what this Mahama-led government is capable of…and none of that includes goodwill without greased palms.
According to this chart, Ghana is only one of several African countries that has pledged to accept and transition prisoners from Guantanamo Bay. Others include Somalia, Cape Verde and Egypt. Only God knows what negotiations took place to facilitate prison transfers into each of these needy countries. So far, the only inducement that has been made clear is that there is a sense quid pro quo in operation here ; that it behooves these current (and future) host nations to be on America’s good side and be seen as an ally from which “favors” can be potentially drawn later.
It’s never as simple as a response to a humanitarian need or goodwill. Accra and its environs are a constant humanitarian crisis waiting to erupt with the next rainfall.
Ghana’s willingness to accept the two former detainees could have something to do with furthering AFRICOM operations for the US. Again, to what benefit we probably will never know. These things cannot be found out in something as simple as a quick Google search. When I asked a friend who worked in defense what possible motivation a country like Ghana (or Sweden, for that matter) would have in partaking in such a “goodwill venture”, he was very cryptic on the call.
“There are some words that are very innocent when they are spoken or written separately. Individually, 5 or 6 reports can be labeled ‘unclassified’. But put them together in a stack, and suddenly it becomes a ‘classified’ document that only Top Secret clearance holders have access to.”
“Now, you’re on the phone with me stringing words together like Gitmo, Pentagon and prisoner. On their own, those are just fine. But together…it’s Operation Crosswalk. You gonna have SWAT swinging through your bedroom window if you keep tying certain phrases together.”
“What? Wait. Did you hear that?”
Y’all. I SWEAR I heard a third party click on the other end of our call!
I have no answers to what motivation the government of Ghana would have for accepting two potentially dangerous men, but given the rate at which the Chinese are building school blocks and Malaysians are taking over the telephony industry and Brazilians taking over our major building projects and, and, and, it’s not difficult to cut through the mud and see what’s going to bubble to the surface. In time, these motives will become clear – and specifically when no one in government thinks it is “important”. But by then, it will be too late to draw any real lessons before the same mistake is repeated again.
I’m terribly disappointed (as usual) in Ghana’s ruling government for allowing this to pass without public debate or awareness. I’m disappointed in the opposition who surely knew that this was coming down the pike and failed in their duty to alert the citizenry. Yet again, Ghanaians are being treated like children, robbed of their basic rights on a daily basis. We all had a right to this knowledge, forehand. The only clear beneficiary in this equation is America, President Obama, specifically, as this affords him the opportunity to make good on his early promise to close Guantanamo Bay prison before he left office. Him, and perhaps a few nameless middle men who have received their cut of whatever was being offered to sell out the country, once again. When does it stop?
*SWAT, if you’re reading this, I just have questions ooo. I don’t know ANYTHING! I don’t want any wahala.