Five More Gitmo Detainees to Spain
In a positive gesture towards the Obama administration, Spanish Foreign Minster Miguel Angel Moratinos has announced Spain will accept five Guantanamo Bay detainees for resettlement, raising their total commitment to seven. In his statement to the press, Foreign Minister Moratinos emphasized that the “detainees will not pose a security threat and that any transfers to Spain ‘will be done with all the legal guarantees so as to defend the security situation that our country requires.’” This support indicates warming of U.S./Spain relations since the rapid pullout of Spanish troops from Iraq in 2004. The rapid pullout, much to the ire of the Bush administration, was a direct result of the March 11, 2004 terrorist bombing of multiple Madrid trains only three days before the election.
One of President Obama’s early acts as president was to issue an requiring the closure of Guantanamo Bay within one year. The task has proved difficult in light of the rancorous and intense domestic political battle his administration has faced. Support of the international community has been crucial to whittling down the administration’s detainee problem–of the 192 current detainees, 110 have been cleared for release, resettlement or repatriation to a foreign country. In the past, countries have been hesitant to accept detainees without a commitment from the U.S. to do the same. The success of gaining international support is likely attributed to the appointment of veteran diplomat Daniel Fried as a special envoy in this matter. Currently, the United States has transferred detainees to nine European countries, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Kuwait. Other countries such as Latvia and Bulgaria have also provided commitments to accept detainees.
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