Election posters for the Iraqi parliamentary election in 2010 on the Nisour square in Bagdad. At the left of the picture, the memorial of the square. (Omar Chatriwala, Al Jazeera English)
The Dark Prince

‘No modern US war would be complete without the involvement of Blackwater founder Erik Prince,’ wrote journalist Jeremy Scahill in his seminal book Dirty Wars. That was back in 2013. Since its founding in 1997, Blackwater, Prince’s private military outfit, has been reincarnated several times under different names. But Prince has stayed the same.

Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia — Prince, a very 21st-century mercenary, has wreaked havoc in all these places. He comes, he spoils, he leaves a mess that is impossible to clear up.

Take Libya. In February, a report commissioned by the United Nations Security Council accused Prince of coordinating Project Opus, an $80-million operation in 2019 to deliver weapons and men to help the militia leader Khalifa Haftar overthrow Libya’s UN recognized government. The operation was ‘partially unsuccessful’ because the men — an assortment of South African, British and Australian mercenaries plus one American — were ultimately unable to deliver Cobra and Little Bird helicopters from Jordan as promised. Project Opus went awry when the men arrived in Benghazi with older attack aircraft from South Africa instead, reportedly sparking Heftar’s fury. The men fled, hopping into speedboats, and were apprehended by police when they reached Malta.

According to the UN report, the plot, purchases and deliveries violate an international arms embargo. When UN investigators dug through 10 shell companies in four countries, their path led to Prince and his longtime associate Christiaan Durrant. Both are facing UN sanctions, including asset freezes and a travel ban. The Blackwater founder, through his lawyer Matthew Schwartz, has categorically denied involvement in the coup-gone-wrong. Schwartz did not, however, respond to requests for comment for this story.

Read the full article in The American Spectator.

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