UAE Hires Mercenaries for Internal Repression

In theory I have no problem with mercenaries. In the past I have defended soldiers of fortune, and suggested they could be a worthwhile substitute for Western troops in places like Darfur where we are not willing to commit our own forces. Moreover, I have argued for the use of foreign-born troops in the U.S. military who would get citizenship in return for service. I even suggested the creation of an American Freedom Legion modeled on the French Foreign Legion.

I mention all this to make clear I am no reflexive basher of mercenaries. But I am nevertheless slightly discomfited by news that Erik Prince, the former SEAL officer and founder of Blackwater, is now in the process of assembling a mercenary battalion for the United Arab Emirates. The UAE is a close American ally and by Middle Eastern standards relatively liberal. But there is no mistaking it for a democracy. It is run by a small number of ruling families which keep a tight lid on dissent—especially among the vast underclass of foreign-born workers who keep the emirates running but are denied citizenship or any of the other benefits that native Emiratis receive. Many of these workers belong to a more or less indentured class of laborers from the Indian subcontinent who live in squalid, miserable conditions. They are deported at any hint of labor organizing or any other attempt to redress their numerous grievances.

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UAE Hires Mercenaries for Internal Repression

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