Erik Prince, the billionaire founder of Blackwater (now rebranded "Xe") is building a stealth, American-led mercenary army in the United Arab Emirates "with $529 million from the oil-soaked sheikdom." The business plan, at least in part, appears to be to help autocratic regimes crush popular democratic uprisings—a response to "Arab Spring." Oh, this will turn out well. Snip from the New York Times' exclusive:
Mr. Prince, who resettled here last year after his security business faced mounting legal problems in the United States, was hired by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi to put together an 800-member battalion of foreign troops for the U.A.E., according to former employees on the project, American officials and corporate documents obtained by The New York Times.
The force is intended to conduct special operations missions inside and outside the country, defend oil pipelines and skyscrapers from terrorist attacks and put down internal revolts, the documents show. Such troops could be deployed if the Emirates faced unrest or were challenged by pro-democracy demonstrations in its crowded labor camps or democracy protests like those sweeping the Arab world this year. The U.A.E.'s rulers, viewing their own military as inadequate, also hope that the troops could blunt the regional aggression of Iran, the country's biggest foe, the former employees said.
The New York Times also published a copy of the executed contract. (PDF)
Here is a Google Maps link for the Blackwater UAE compound (via Kurt Brown).
Jeremy Scahill on Twitter, cryptically: "The breaking Blackwater story in NYT is, in part, a limited hangout. Follow the Libyan road."
(Photo: In 2007, Blackwater Chief Executive Erik Prince testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on security contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan on Capitol Hill in Washington. At the time, Prince's company was under investigation over deadly incidents in Iraq, and lawmakers took aim at the company's actions in a shooting in which 11 Iraqis were killed.)