Gregory Johnsen, a former Fulbright Fellow in Yemen, is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. Johnsen has written for a variety of publications on Yemen including, among others, Foreign Policy, The American Interest, The Independent, The Boston Globe, and The National. He is the co-founder of Waq al-Waq: Islam and Insurgency in Yemen Blog. In 2009, he was a member of the USAID's conflict assessment team for Yemen.
The New York Times has just posted a story on Yemen and the difficulties of closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay.
Those who read this blog know how I feel about the oft-repeated argument that Yemen doesn't actually want these guys back.
Here is the portion from the article:
President Saleh has publicly demanded the return of the detainees. But Joanne Mariner, director of Human Rights Watch’s terrorism and counterterrorism program, said that after meeting top Yemeni officials, it appeared that the Saleh government seemed to see them as a potential security and financial problems.
"Politically they need to give the impression that they’re fighting to get their people back," she said, but added that it was not clear the Yemeni officials were working to meet any American requirements.One senior Yemeni official, she said, seemed to suggest that Yemen would require a huge payment from the American government to resettle the detainees. A proper rehabilitation program, the official claimed, could cost as much as $1 million for each detainee, totaling perhaps $100 million.
I don't know Joanne Mariner, but I have doubts about her understanding of what Yemeni officials want, particularly given the relative short amount of time Human Rights Watch spent in the country. This is nothing against their reports, just that Yemen is a complex place that is difficult to grasp in weeks of study let alone years.
I think a more accurate understanding might be that Yemeni officials - read President Salih - want the detainees back, but because of the way the Obama administration has handled the closing of Guantanamo, it feels it can shake down the US for more money. The way the Obama administration publicly announced it intention to close Guantanamo may have been good domestic politics, but it did have repercussions internationally. Most obviously, in this case, Yemen believes it has leverage against the US.
Don't forget the pressure Salih came under for his inability to get Shaykh al-Mu'ayyad back from the US. For my money, the people who say that Yemen does not want the Yemeni detainees back are grossly misreading the situation in Yemen.
It's the first time the association hasn't hired a comedian in 16 years.
Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.
- America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
- Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
- Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
A study on flies may hold the key to future addiction treatments.
- A new study suggests that drinking alcohol can affect how memories are stored away as good or bad.
- This may have drastic implications for how addiction is caused and how people recall intoxication.
- The findings may one day lead to a new form of treatment for those suffering from addiction.
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