Blackwater to Teach Somalis True Meaning of Democracy


Last we met our intrepid Somali legislators, they were trying to tame Somalia's anarchic wireless telecom market. The story was a little odd considering that the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) only controls a few blocks of territory with the al-Shabaab insurgency closing in fast, but yesterday we learned from The New York Times why they're so confident: Blackwater's coming to town!

Well, not quite Blackwater—Erik Prince, the infamous mercenary firm's founder, has cobbled together a sinister-sounding coalition of apartheid-era South African mercenaries and two-bit Ugandan potentates under the name Saracen International, and they're gunning for contracts with Africa's most hapless governing body. Previously the firm had been involved with anti-piracy efforts funded by the United Arab Emirates and the unrecognized Somali state of Puntland, but they are now poised to make landfall in Mogadishu. The mercenaries will apparently be paid by the TFG, but the deal was brokered by former U.S. officials:

The officials, Pierre-Richard Prosper, a former United States ambassador at large for war crimes [Ed.—you can't make this shit up], and Michael Shanklin, a former Central Intelligence Agency station chief in Mogadishu, are both serving as advisers to the Somali government, according to people involved in the project. Both Mr. Prosper and Mr. Shanklin are apparently being paid by the United Arab Emirates.

Despite the backlash that the TFG has faced since their contracts with Saracen came to light, the mercenary firm is wasting no time. They've already begun renovating a military hospital, and given the TFG's sudden ambitions, it looks like they're gearing up for yet another battle of Mogadishu (you know what they say—tenth time's a charm!).

Learning from the disastrous direct intervention in the early '90s and the American-funded Ethiopian invasion in 2006, the U.S. has perfected the art of meddling-by-proxy: Even The New York Times didn't note that the mercenaries' Krugerrands, despite being routed through the nominally-independent TFG, are coming mostly courtesy of the American taxpayer. At least Bill Clinton had the balls to own up to his invasion—President George W. Bush and Barack Obama's interventions have been more circuitous, but no less harmful.