CNN and other news outlets are reporting on the possibilities of Yemenis being turned over to Saudi Arabia for rehabilitation before they are returned to Yemen. I have been hearing about the possibility for quite a while, but had been sworn to secrecy. Now that it is in the news, I believe I’m no longer constrained by my previous agreement. I think this is a bad idea.
Sending the Yemenis the US government has cleared for release back to Saudi Arabia, only increases the influence of Yemen’s powerful neighbor to the north in the country in not a good way. It also undermines Salih’s government – I understand the US security concerns, but if the US is clearing these individuals for release then it should be willing to release them and not have Saudi Arabia act as some sort of middle-man. They will spend a few months in Saudi’s rehabilitation program and then go back to Yemen. They might as well go through Yemen’s rehabilitation program. I have said before that Yemen’s program is largely a failure, and I believe it is, but I don’t think the Saudi program is that much better. Both of these programs can, at best, be a part of the solution. But neither is the whole solution. There are no quick-fixes or silver bullets in this mess, only nuanced, detailed and multi-faceted approaches.
To me, this potential plan sounds as if the US is trying to get someone else to clean up its own mess. The US doesn’t know what to do with these individuals so it will pass the buck to Saudi Arabia who will rehab them and then the US won’t have to deal with them anymore. I believe this is fanciful thinking and a deliberate ignoring of many of the complications that could likely arise.
In other Guantanamo news, the US named Daniel Fried as its point man on closing Guantanamo.
Also, I co-wrote an article with a friend, who happens to be much smarter than I, on some of the complications of closing Guantanamo.