The NYT reported on May 15, 2011 that the United Arab Emirates had hired Black Water to build a foreign mercenary battalion for the Emirati government. The battalion will consist of 800 mercenaries from Latin American and South Africa at a cost of $529 million. Its main function is to provide security for the Emirates skyscrapers, the oil lines and the nuclear sites to protect them from attacks. The Black Water foreign battalion’s major function will be to protect the Emirates from internal and external attacks, including any attempts by local Emirates citizens to protest. It is of interest that the Emirates provided military help in recent conflicts to Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan, which reflect its defense capability.
For the U.A.E. to rely on Black Water for such important defense functions leads to puzzling questions. First of all, Black Water military activities in Iraq leaves so much to be desired. Its forces have killed Iraqi unarmed citizens and the firm is being sued in the U.S. for the crimes committed in Iraq. This is one of the reasons among others that Black Water moved from the U.S. and that its headquarters are now located in the U.A.E.
Second, the 800 foreign mercenaries (which is a small number) are not going to make too much of a difference in the security of the U.A.E.
It will not be that difficult for the Emirates to recruit and train even a large number of their own people to perform the same task. If the ruling family can’t trust their own people to perform such a task, then why not hire some of the military experts, especially from Egypt or Jordan, to perform the same functions. Is it really a matter of trust? Are Arab recruits not to be trusted? There are millions of young Arabs who are college graduates and unemployed who would be an excellent source to recruit and train to perform the required task.
It seems to me that Arab heads of state have failed to learn a lesson from the turn of events that have been taking place all over the Arab world. They are short sighted and have failed to see beyond their noses. The major problems in the Arab world are low income, poverty and unemployment. These are the reasons behind the ongoing uprisings.
The $529 million that Black Water will get from the Emirates could be of some help for the unemployed young men in the Arab world. In any country, where no democratic institutions prevail, sometimes decision are made by one or a few who control the country, and they dispose of the state’s wealth as if it is their own. However, at the end, they will be the losers.