Yemen promises to rehabilitate Gitmo detainees


Yemen is one of America's closest partners on counterterrorism. Unlike Pakistan's civilian government, which publicly decries U.S. drone strikes, Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi in a speech in Washington last year said they have “zero margin of error if you know what target you’re aiming at.”

Hadi, a former army officer, went on to say that drones were a better alternative than Yemen's aging fleet of Soviet aircraft, The New York Times reported.

“The Yemeni Air Force cannot carry out missions at night,” he said. “The electronic brain’s precision is unmatched by the human brain.”

Still, Senate Republicans say Yemen cannot guarantee that anyone released from Guantanamo won't go back to fighting for Islamist militants at war with the United States.

“I’m very concerned about the transfer of people back to Yemen,” said Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainBudowsky: Trump destroying GOP in 2018, '19, '20 Conservative group cuts ties with Michelle Malkin Democratic debate at Tyler Perry's could miss the mark with black voters MORE (R-Ariz.), who supports closing Guantánamo. “We don’t want them to go back into the fight. The fact is about 20 percent of them went back into the fight.”

Graham said sending the prisoners back does a "disservice" to both Yemen and the United States.

"The president of Yemen has been a better partner, things are getting somewhat better in Yemen. But I cannot believe…that the conditions on the ground in Yemen — and three people who attacked our consulate in Benghazi came from Yemen — are such that it would be a good idea to release people held for years as terrorists back into Yemen," Graham said.

Here's the full statement from the embassy:

The Government of Yemen (GOY) welcomes President Obama’s remarks and actions today. In particular, Yemen welcomes the Administration's decision to lift the moratorium on detainee transfers to Yemen.  GOY will work with the United States to take all necessary steps to ensure the safe return of its detainees and will continue working towards their gradual rehabilitation and integration back into society. Yemen's partnership with the United States is strong, and GOY values the ongoing cooperation to tackle mutual threats and promote the unity, stability, and prosperity of the nation.

Jeremy Herb contributed.

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