15 May 2011

A Prince Builds an Army for a Sheik

Even if this turns out to be legal, it can't be a good idea.

The Colombians had entered the United Arab Emirates posing as construction workers. In fact, they were soldiers for a secret American-led mercenary army being built by Erik Prince, the billionaire founder of Blackwater Worldwide, with $529 million from the oil-soaked sheikdom.

Mr. Prince, who resettled here last year after his security business faced mounting legal problems in the United States, was hired by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi to put together an 800-member battalion of foreign troops for the U.A.E., according to former employees on the project, American officials and corporate documents obtained by The New York Times.

The force is intended to conduct special operations missions inside and outside the country, defend oil pipelines and skyscrapers from terrorist attacks and put down internal revolts, the documents show. Such troops could be deployed if the Emirates faced unrest or were challenged by pro-democracy demonstrations in its crowded labor camps or democracy protests like those sweeping the Arab world this year.

We're pretty sure this is Zayed Military City, but if not, someone please set us straight. Clearly not all the construction was in progress when this image was taken.

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By: Brant


Anonymous said...

I looked at the most recent images and this appears to be farming/orchards and not a military facility. I am ex-military and have a good idea what a compound would look like.

Brant said...

Because ZMC is not marked on the maps, we were trying to locate it based on some message board traffic and news articles, as well as one strip map we found. Like I said, I'm not sure this is it, so if someone else can help us locate the base, I'll adjust the graphic.


Anonymous said...

Well, I suppose it is a good idea for some people.

Erik Prince gets to live beyond the reach of the law for what his goons have done, with half a billion dollars from the UAE government to play with for his little army - which, if the experiment succeeeds, may grow brigade size.

The UAE government gets a battalion that can be counted on to shoot anyone they like, for as long as it gets paid, on time and in usable currency. You may not be able to count on Muslims killing Muslims, but you can always count on nominal Christians to do the deed.

I could see this going different directions - coups here and there, for example - but for now it looks like a normal Goon Squad.

Incidentally, there is a long history of British Army officers and senior NCOs taking time off from their careers to act as paid "Advisors" or trainers to small Arab/African countries like the UAE, Oman, etc.. I remember reading notices for that sort of thing in old issues of The Economist.

The NYT article has a picture of the camp here: http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2011/05/15/world/15prince3.html