Sleeping with the enemy

BY: Enimil Ashon

It was Genevan and British political theorist, Jean-Louis de Lolme (1740 – 1806), who in criticising what he observed as excessive powers of the British Parliament, wrote that "Parliament can do everything but make a woman a man and a man a woman".

Of course, in the present age when science has made sex change possible and available on demand, de Lolme might express his fears in other words, but the substance of his criticism would still be valid today about governments, in general, and governments of the Fourth Republic of Ghana, in particular.

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What makes the decisions and actions of our Fourth Republican governments a little more frightening than elsewhere is that whereas in America, for instance, laws and policies dare not go against the will of “We the people”, in Ghana it is “We the government”; in other words, “the people be damned” – until campaign time.

Will a government that respects or fears the people import terror into Ghana? That is exactly what our government did when, in 2016, it allowed into the country, two known associates of the dreaded Osama Bin Laden, namely Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby, after being held for 14 years at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in the south of Cuba.

The two are Yemeni men born in Saudi Arabia, but are considered citizens of Yemen based on their family and tribal ties. Investigations show that the two were captured by Afghan forces in 2001 who turned them over to the USA until President Barack Obama, true to his campaign pledge, issued an Executive order on January 22, 2009 for the closure of the detention facility.

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In the national security interest of America, the detainees, described by Mitt Romney, 2012 Republican Presidential hopeful, as “violent, heinous terrorists", were distributed among some nations of the world, including Ghana.

In appending our collective signature, the Ghana government read and knew that the GITMO two agreement was to expire on January 6, 2018. What was not in the agreement and which our government, hungrily licking its lips at the sight of US$300,000.00 did not notice or ask for, was the exit clause. In short, there was no mention of what to do with the two after January 6, 2018.

Now, in 2018, we find that we cannot ask them to leave. Why? Because our government, on the blind side of the people of Ghana, changed their status, making them refugees.

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Fortunately, and much to my relief, the present government says it “is in negotiation with a third country for them to exit”.

The absence of the exit clause and the inability of our negotiators to notice it is significant in the sense that it is not surprising: this is typical Ghana.

Ever stood outside of the VIP lounge of the Kotoka Airport? Do you see all those three-piece suited officials emerging out of their chilled gleaming limousines or SUVs and literally floating up the stairs into the VIP lounge? They are on their way out of the country to negotiate or sign agreements – e.g. mining agreements - on behalf of Ghana. The journey is over 11 hours and jet lag sets in by the time they arrive. Either that or for some other reason that is not easily fathomable, they are unable to notice that the ‘t’s are not crossed and the ‘i’s are not dotted. So very often, Ghana finds itself holding the short end of the stick.

Why am I in favour of the GITMO two being asked to leave? Simple: I am a Ghanaian and my forefathers warned me never to forget that there will always be blood in the head of a tsetsefly.

Spokespersons for the National Demoicratic Congress (NDC) have been arguing that the two have been here for two years and have been harmless. Could any group of people be so simple-minded!! Had the World Trade Centre terrorists not lived in America and been harmless for upwards of two years before they struck on September 11, 2001?

My heart has been in my mouth since Ghanaian security discovered and seized a number of grenades from some yet-to-named persons? Kudos to our capo de tutti capi of National Security for losing sleep on our behalf. Nonetheless, I remember Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old Nigerian who was caught on Christmas Day, 2009, attempting to detonate plastic explosives hidden in his underwear while on board Northwest Airlines Flight 253, en route from Amsterdam to Detroit. He bought his ticket in Ghana.

Al-Qaeda claimed to have supplied him with the bomb and trained him. From where did he receive his training? At what point in his journey - in which country – did he put on the explosives? If he strapped them on in the toilet during the flight, how did the explosives get into the toilet?

I wish to submit, Mr President, that we are sleeping with the enemy. For now, we need security operatives whose antennae are as sharp as the proboscis of a cockroach. But, and it’s a big but, what level of security can keep out terror?

In our churches, in the mosques, in our temples and at the shrines, therefore, when we bow down, go on our knees or spread our arms to heaven in supplication, our prayer should be: “Father, your mercy, Lord”.