News broke this week that the West African state of Ghana has accepted two Yemeni detainees from Guantanamo Bay, the infamous United States-run prison where accused terrorists were held for more than a decade without trial and tortured.
To add insult to injury, Mr. Mahama, Ghana’s President, trivialized this major development, saying that Ghanaians had “nothing to fear”, as they would sooner die in a car accident than at the hands of the Yemenis.
We ask Mr. Mahama not to insult our intelligence or treat us like children. This entire sub region has something to worry about. Indeed, Mr. Mahama, and by extension President Obama, has put this entire West African sub region at risk.
Here are the intelligent questions we must ask:
If the Yemenis have been freed and “just want to pick up the pieces of their lives”, if they are no longer a threat to society, then why are they, for all intents and purposes, still being detained? The men are said to be living in a security compound. The other question that needs answering is why the men were not charged. Why were they, for 14 years, held without trial? The third question: Are we now to believe them when they say, “We have suffered but we are not looking for revenge?”
Since the men were not in fact tried, there is no way of knowing whether they were in fact al-Qaeda operatives or not, or if their unconstitutional detention further embittered them or not. Even if they weren’t al-Qaeda operatives, how exactly are they supposed to “pick up the pieces of their lives?” College educations? Flight school perhaps? Which companies would employ them with that kind of stigma?
Of course, Ghana’s coastal neighbor, the almighty Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy and one of the continent’s biggest militaries, has not been able to contain the threat of Boko Haram, whose terrorist atrocities have continued unabated for since 2009. Just last year, the group announced its new identity, the Islamic State in the West African Province. Some 20,000 people have been killed and another 2.3 million displaced across Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger. The shift in the group’s name alone is cause for all ECOWAS members to prepare for battle.
If in fact the men were al-Qaeda operatives, even at the bottom rung, their next course of action would be to contact the nearest cell – Boko Haram. Worse still, Boko Haram might come calling on them. That would be an easy excuse for the group to further spread its Jihad.
Uganda should not have accepted detainees either, with al-Shabab next door in Somalia. All that these terrorists need, after all, is an invitation in the form of acceptance of America’s detainees.
Some international news agencies said sources informed them that Ghana received US$300 million to accept the prisoners. The very least the Ghanaian government could have done would have been to deal transparently with the issue. There would obviously be a budget for the men’s upkeep and for the beefing up of security as required. But for the Ghanaian government to give the impression that this involves no risk whatsoever to its own people, much less the West African sub region, is patently selfish, unconscionable and irresponsible.
But we do understand that this operation is akin to a drug deal. For the seller, it’s business. Said seller has a product to offload. And while the buyer is not obligated to buy, he has a habit – money, the root of ALL evil. And in Africa, this particular seller has been all too happy to feed said habit.
Where the discrepancies occur, of course, is when said seller tries to pass itself off as a savior seeking the best interests of the global community, all the while pushing various kinds of drugs (power, money, false promises) and unduly influencing the affairs of nations in the shadows.
We advise Ghana, a nation full of highly educated thinkers, to reassess the risks not just to itself, but to the comity of West African nations already at risk, being such a volatile region. That child that says its mother will not sleep will also not sleep, and a town trap is not for rat alone.
If America wants to clean out Guantanamo, she should repatriate all of their untried detainees back to their countries of origin with the means to rebuild their lives. That would be the honorable thing to do. But to offload them in other peaceful nations (whereas America herself does not want them) is equivalent to robbing Peter to pay Paul. Surely US$300 million could never begin to resettle a destabilized nation; or else Nigeria, the Middle East itself and the entire world would be at peace right this minute. But money is not the solution to every problem, and troubled nations should stop buying this drug.
Finally, as a long term solution, America should stop manipulating the affairs of other nations. Perhaps then she herself may find peace and security at home.