A short while back we did a piece on Erik Prince, Donald Trump’s favorite condottiere, who is currently using his connections with the Orange regime to rebuild his business as the mercenary captain par excellence. But it turns out the story keeps getting better.
One of Prince’s first and best customers was the United Arab Emirates, which is blessed and cursed with large resources, big ambitions, and a small population. It has, therefore, tended to use contractors in its military as much as it can. Now, the Middle East Eye, is looking at just how much the UAE relies on soldiers of fortune. It makes for interesting and disturbing reading. The country is fighting a war in Yemen as an ally of the Saudis, and it has threatened some sort of armed conflict with Qatar, and is building bases all over East Africa, including in such places as Eritrea and, in the near future, Somaliland (formerly a part of Somalia, now a would-be country).
But, notes the Middle East Eye, “The UAE’s futuristic cities and booming economy were built on foreign know-how and labour funded by petrodollars – and its military is no different. At war in Yemen – and with aspirations of becoming a dominant land, air and sea power in the Middle East – the UAE is leaning heavily on foreign expertise to transform and guide its military.” As a result, foreigners are everywhere in the UAE’s forces, from grunts up to senior commanders. The publication identifies, for example, an American, Stephen A. Toumajan, formerly a lieutenant colonel in the US Army, but who is now a general leading the UAE’s helicopter forces.
We thus enter a strange new age which looks quite old. We have, on one side, a thriving postmodern civilization with its capital at Dubai, which also relies on mercenary companies that would look perfectly at home in Renaissance Italy.
Which is something that the UAE ought to worry about. Its leaders should remember that many a city-state employed mercenaries to fight its wars, but then, somehow, ended up being ruled by those same men.