KATHMANDU, Nepal – Despite previous opposition to the establishment and use of private armies, the United Kingdom and United Nations are beginning to warm to the idea of using paid mercenaries to carry out security roles around the world.
Like many former British colonies, Nepal is home to elite mercenaries: the Gurkhas. These soldiers perform important security functions out of the public eye.
For example, the Gurkhas guard the Sultan of Brunei, the world’s richest oil man. French Legionnaires stationed in Djibouti are only a stone’s throw away from the Suez Canal. Sandline, another mercenary organization, tried to re-open one of the world’s largest copper mines in Papua New Guinea, while Executive Outcomes has waged war in Angola and Sierra Leone.
Executive Outcomes now is reorganizing itself and considering a military contract to help the Islamic government in Khartoum wage war on the Christian civilians in the south of that nation.
During the 1990s, the United Nations, British government and Clinton administration officially frowned on mercenaries, soldiers serving for pay in foreign armies or at the behest of private firms. The U.N. passed formal legislation outlawing groups like Executive Outcomes.
On Feb. 13, however, the much-anticipated Labour government’s Foreign Office Green Paper on mercenaries stated that soldiers for hire may have a role to play in “securing peace.”
In former British colonies like Sierra Leone, Executive Outcomes brought order, if only temporarily. EO went into Sierra Leone on behalf of the diamond and gem interests held by powerful, private British-owned business interests.
Often, EO and Sandline (who share an office in London) work hand in hand with the British government and its corporate elites. These mercenary groups are often given a cut in the form of cash payments or mining rights in exchange for training government forces to vanquish rebel groups holding lands that house mineral and/or oil wealth.
The British government’s Green Paper said that the mercenary armies had a far better human-rights record than U.N. peacekeepers. U.N. forces have been documented as having spread AIDS in Cambodia by having unprotected sex with prostitutes, engaged in pedophilia in Africa and roasted a black man over a fire while serving in Somalia. The Canadian unit implicated in the latter action was disbanded by Ottawa.
Former U.S. Marine Steven Weintraub, who served with U.N. forces in Somalia, told WorldNetDaily, “I was more afraid of the Pakistani troops on ‘our side’ than I was of the Somali enemies.”
The Green Paper also said that the mercenary armies, which it called “reputable private firms,” may be able to “do a better job” and “be more cost effective” than the U.N. forces.
Quoting the Green Paper, “It is at least possible that if the tasks of UNAMSIL (United Nations Mission to Sierra Leone) were put out to tender, private companies would be able to do the job more cheaply and more effectively. There may be a case for examining this option.”
The U.N. has already started using mercenary companies in ancillary roles providing equipment and “security” in various U.N. operations around the world.
The peacekeeping mission in Sierra Leone costs $600 million per year.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan recently stated that he considered sending in mercenaries to “separate fighters” from Rwandan refugees in the Great Lakes region of Africa.