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Hidden Hands of Blackwater in Syria Unrest

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Maryam Fattahi

Discussions about presence of Blackwater agents in Syria became rife after the famous Egyptian thinker and author, Mohamed Hassanein Heikal, said in his recent remarks on the developments in Syria that the Blackwater security services company is active in Syria and runs a 6,000-strong force in and out of the country. He emphasized that Blackwater is present both inside and outside the Syrian borders. He noted that the main goal of the company’s intervention in Syria is to give more room to Israel to breathe. He also stressed that turning Arab – Israeli conflict into a conflict between Shia and Sunni Muslims is one of the main goals of the ongoing unrest in Syria. 

Introducing Blackwater’s Goals

The Blackwater Company whose name has been changed to Academi since a few years ago, was established in 1998 by a former member of the US Navy Seals. When explaining its abilities, the company emphasizes that it is capable of deploying tens of thousands of experienced military and security forces in the most critical and most sensitive war zones around the world. In its training complex in North Carolina, the company has vast facilities for training mercenaries. Moveable shooting fields where powerful and semi-heavy weapons can be fired, simulated buildings used to practice hostage rescue operations, and various kinds of dugouts and embankments are available at the headquarters of the company. According to US military officials, mercenaries trained by Blackwater are so well supplied and well armed that their equipment can only be compared with those of the UN Navy Amphibious Base in North Falkland.

Blackwater’s Presence in Afghanistan and Iraq

Blackwater Security Consulting was founded in 2002. Its first assignment was to provide 20 men with top-secret clearances to protect the CIA headquarters and another base that was responsible for hunting Bin Laden. After the United States invaded Afghanistan, Blackwater entered that country. According to the company officials, its people are in Afghanistan to help with the ongoing campaign against drug trafficking and Obama administration has so far appropriated 250 million dollars for the company’s operations in Afghanistan.

Blackwater also played a key role in Iraq war. The company signed a contract worth 7.27 million dollars with the US government in 2003 to protect the American governor of Iraq, Paul Bremer. In June 2004, the company received 320 million dollars from the US Department of State to protect its personnel in unsafe areas around the world. The Iraqi government revoked Blackwater’s license to operate in Iraq on September 17, 2007, after the company forces that were escorting the US State Department vehicles in Baghdad opened fire on Iraqis killing 17 Iraqi civilians.

Revelations about Blackwater’s Role in Syria Unrest

This company mostly uses foreign mercenaries to implement its projects. For example, former Blackwater president, Gary Jackson, had admitted that the company hired mercenaries from Bosnia, Chile, and Philippines for the protection of the American governor of Iraq, Paul Bremer. Heikal had also noted in his remarks that the company hires mercenaries from Turkey as well as Arab and European countries in order to fan the flames of the ongoing unrest in Syria.

There have been a high number of armed men from various Arab nationalities such as Iraqis and the Lebanese as well as the members of Qatar’s intelligence, Afghans, Turks and Europeans among rebels arrested by Syria’s government forces. The Syrian army has also seized very advanced Israeli, European and American weapons during operations in Baba Amr region. They include very sophisticated communication systems. There were also special stations on the Lebanese soil which were used to supervise military operations in Baba Amr region. It was through coordination made by those stations that British correspondents could leave Homs and cross the common border between Lebanon and Syria. The entire existing body of evidence shows that a foreign force has been equipping the Syrian opposition.

The Turkish Aydinlik newspaper carried a report on new activities of Blackwater company noting that Blackwater is currently active along the Turkey’s border with Syria. The report added that terrorists working for the company are being sent into Syria through Turkey’s Hatay Province and some Blackwater agents have also set up special training camps along the border with Syria to train Syrian terrorists and rebels on the Turkish soil.

According to the English website of al-Akhbar news network, after emails belonging to Stratfor intelligence and strategic company were released by Wikileaks website, everybody knew that Blackwater has been playing a role in the Libyan unrest. The company’s former director, Jamie Smith, had also been asked to go to Turkey in order to establish contacts with the Syrian rebels. According to the emails, after the Western countries enforced a no-fly zone over Libya, the company concluded a contract with the Libyan National Transitional Council to train revolutionaries in military tactics.

Salim Harba, a Syrian expert on strategic issues has written in an article on Al-Manar website that “a coordination office was established in Qatar under American-Gulf sponsorship. The office includes American, French, and Gulf – specifically from Qatar and Saudi Arabia – intelligence agents, as well as CIA, Mossad, and Blackwater agents and members of the Syrian Transitional Council.”

Even the Syrian security forces posted in the restive city of Homs reported that the unrest in that part of the country was fomented by Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad; the United States’ central intelligence agency, CIA; as well as Blackwater Company.

Therefore, one may conclude that given the use of advanced weapons in the Syrian unrest; apprehension of foreign mercenaries, including both Arabs and Westerners; and revelations about role of this company in the Syrian unrest, security forces of Blackwater are indeed trying to foster insecurity and insurgency in Syria. By doing this, they are trying to help the United States achieve its goals because the United States is bent on toppling Assad’s government in order to safeguard its own interests and those of Israel in the region.

Key Words: Blackwater, Syria Unrest, Afghanistan and Iraq, Foreign Mercenaries, Insecurity and Insurgency, US, Israel, Fattahi

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