Towards the use of the Private Military Companies in the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations By Sebastian Deschamps COTIPSO Programme UNITAR POCI

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Zimbabwe, Harare Airport, March 7th, 2004. A Boeing 727-100 (N4610) waits patiently on the tarmac of the military zone. Behind the veiled ports, no light leaks out. African nights are still advantageous for secrets. In a few moments all hell will break loose. In this quiet airport, the “Meteoric Tactical Solutions” (MTS) affair is going to blow up. Who are these 69 British and South Africans men, waiting behind the curtains of the 727-100 en route to a very strange mission? Most are ex-members of the South African “Battalion 32”. Simon Mann, the chief of this small group, is supervising the loading of $180 000 of weapon, ordered in February from the state owned Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI), when the Zimbabwean army intervenes capturing the employees of MTS on information provided by South African secret services. They are arrested and put into imprisonment in the Chikurubi high security prison. As a result of their action, they risk extradition towards Equatorial Guinea (EG) where they will be accused of mercenary activity, trying to conduct a “coup d’état”, arms dealing and illegal immigration (Zimbabwe Only). If they are extradited, they will certainly be sentenced to death. 24 hours later in Malabo, EG, a second arrest is conducted by the Equatorial Guinea forces, during which 15 other persons, including Nick Du Toit, are imprisoned at Black Beach. What is the real purpose of this MTS operation? Is it, as is asserted by the governments of Equatorial Guinea and Zimbabwe an attempted coup against Mr Obiang the President of Equatorial Guinea? Or is it as Simon Mann (one of the MTS managers) states, a contract to protect a Diamond mine in the east of Congo? “They are contracted to provide a range of services to mining clients, including logistics, support services, asset and human security, and communications”. Or, are they a team preparing to abduct Charles Taylor, in partnership with the Private Military Company Northbridge Services Group to pocket the bounty of $2 Millions promised by the US government for his capture. Justice will have to find out what was the true mission of this « band of, rogue, Brothers ». This story is not a simple mercenary one, Equatorial Guinea accuses London Madrid and Washington of being involved in the plot. Under the pretext that the Boeing 727 belongs to an American society of Kansas, Dodson Aviation Inc. But they claim to having sold this plane to another society; Logo Logistic Ltd recorded in a fiscal paradise, of which the CEO is no other than Simon Mann. It would seem that the attempted coup is organized by one of the opponents of the regime of Equatorial Guinea, a Mr. Severo Moto, now exiled in Spain, and financed by a Lebanese business man called Elie Calil (Smelly) who has made his fortune in Nigerian oil and who probably wants to invest in the recently discovered Equatorial Guinean Oil. This huge untapped reserve has propelled the EG to the number  rank in African oil producers. There is apparently a third man, known only as Scratcher, who is also one of the plotters. During the first months of this affair, different names arose for his identification. Some were plausible, such as Tim Spicer , and some others were strange and even frightening considering their implications, such as Sir Mark Thatcher, the son of the British ex-prime minister Lady Margaret Thatcher. This MTS affair implicated the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Department for International Development (DFID), the Swiss Département Fédéral des Affaires Etrangères (DFAE) and the Switzerland embassy in Iraq, in the hiring of this PMC. It also involves the South African Republic, which is going to brief an army of diplomats to prevent the extradition to Equatorial Guinea, and to explain how MTS a South African’s firm, was able to operate in Iraq without having registered its activities to the South African government, as required by the Foreign Military Assistance Act. In the lead up to the American presidential election (2004), certain senators in the US Congress, as well as some officers in the Pentagon, question the techniques for regulation of the Private Military Companies (PMCs). The termination of the mandate of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Iraq, also raised many financial scandals implicating Private Military Companies and contractors.

The PMCs are here …to stay.

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