Barack Obama has warned that his attempts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention centre will only become more difficult after the terror attacks in Paris, and subsequent political point scoring.
The US president, speaking after a meeting with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau in Manila during the APEC summit, said:
I guarantee you there will be strong resistance, because in the aftermath of Paris, I think that there is just a very strong tendency for us to get worked up around issues that don’t actually make us safer but make for good political soundbites.
President Obama also said that the military facility in Cuba currently fuels terrorism, serving as an “enormous recruitment tool” for Isis:
It’s part of how they rationalise and justify their demented, sick perpetration of violence on innocent people.
In the same way that the rhetoric around refugees, suggesting that we should only allow Christians in, or suggesting that we should bar every Syrian applicant even if they are underage – in the same way that that alienates Muslim Americans who are our fellow citizens, our friends and our neighbours and our coworkers, as well as the entire world of 1.6 billion Muslims, Guantanamo has been an enormous recruitment tool for organisations like [Isis].
President Obama signed an executive order on 22 January 2009 to close the detention facilities in Cuba, which, nearly six years later, remain open.
The number of detainees at the facility has shrunk from 241 to 107 during his time at the White House, but Obama has faced many obstacles to its complete closure.
In May, the Senate voted against allowing government funds to close Guantanamo, and on 10 November voted 91-3 to approve the National Defense Authorization Act, which contains legal barriers to the closing of the prison.
Republican candidate and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush promised on Wednesday to keep Guantanamo Bay open if he wins in 2016.
Meanwhile, fellow candidate Donald Trump called for a government database to track Muslims in the United States on Wednesday in Iowa.