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Gitmo Detainees Sent to Country that Does Not Exist

8:57 AM, Dec 21, 2009 • By ADAM BRICKLEY
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The Department of Justice announced Sunday that 12 detainees from Guantanamo Bay would be repatriated to Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somaliland.

That we are sending these people back to largely-lawless Afghanistan and terrorist-hotbed Yemen is bad, bad news. However, it's the third country mentioned that's really bothersome.

Technically speaking, Somaliland does not exist.

Don't get me wrong -- the Republic of Somaliland is a very real entity. It has a government that has been functioning relatively smoothly since declaring independence from Somalia in 1991. The problem, however, is that every nation on Earth (including the U.S.) recognizes the area as a non-independent part of Somalia. There are no diplomatic ties between Somaliland and...well...anyone, and the government is universally viewed as illegitimate.

And we are going to trust these people with two jihadist detainees from Guantanamo Bay?

The only conclusion that one can draw from this story is that President Obama and Attorney General Holder are so desperate to clear out Gitmo that they are willing to do absolutely anything to accomplish their goal -- including the handing dangerous prisoners to a "country" that they themselves will not recognize.

In all fairness, it's probably much safer to give these people to the Somaliland "government" than to let them loose in the anarchy of Somalia-proper -- but not by much. Somaliland faces it's own rebel movements and boundary disputes, and the "government" is not as strong as it could be. It would not be hard for the terrorists in question to slip out of Somaliland and rendezvous with the jihadi groups in South Somalia (assuming they aren't shot by warlords or intercepted by pirates in route).

From a geopolitical standpoint, international recognition of Somaliland's independence may be overdue. In fact, that might be at least a partial solution to eventually resolving the problems in the failed state of Somalia. However, until such time as that recognition occurs, we have absolutely no business "repatriating" terrorist prisoners to a non-existent phantom-nation.