UAE government sending conscripts to die in Saudi war in Yemen

This video from the USA says about itself:

American Mercenaries Hired by United Arab Emirates

16 May 2011

American expatriate Erik Prince‘s Blackwater mercenaries have been paid 500 million dollars by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) dictators. Cenk Uygur lays out why this is a very bad idea.

From Middle East Eye:

Emirati families shocked as UAE sends conscripts into Yemen battle

The UAE introduced military service in 2014 and sources in the Gulf state have claimed that conscripts are now being sent to fight in Yemen

Tuesday 11 August 2015 10:54 UTC

The United Arab Emirates is sending conscripts to Yemen as part of military operations to support the Saudi-led coalition in reinstating the exiled government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.

Sources close to families who have had their sons sent to Yemen told Middle East Eye that they are shocked young men doing their military service would be sent to a war zone, as they have no combat experience.

The UAE is estimated to have deployed at least 1,500 troops to Yemen, although no official numbers have been released. The troops are said to be part of a 3,000 strong Saudi-UAE force, which is rumoured to also include Egyptian soldiers, and is equipped with French battle tanks, Russian fighting vehicles and American troop carriers.

Saudi Arabia launched a coalition in March to launch airstrikes against Houthi militiamen, who had seized large swathes of Yemen and forced President Hadi into exile in Riyadh. The conflict has plunged the Arab world’s poorest nation into a dire humanitarian crisis, with 80 percent of the country’s 25 million people requiring aid assistance, according to the United Nations.

Gulf Arab states view the Houthis as being backed by Iran and the conflict in Yemen is often described as being a proxy war for regional rivalries. The Houthis have admitted their alliance with Iran but denied acting as their proxy in Yemen – the Saada-based group is rooted in local grievances and have long complained of political and economic marginalisation.

A private secretary to President Hadi recently told a Saudi newspaper that the Emirati soldiers deployed in Yemen are in the south-west city of Aden and will protect the port’s airport as well as provide support to the Yemeni army in operating “sensitive devices” that they are not familiar with using.

Two Emirati sources who are independent of each other told Middle East Eye that conscripts are being deployed to Yemen as part of the UAE force.

“To us this is a shock,” said one source, who asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the issue.

“These young men are forced to do military service and should not be taken to hot conflict areas. They are civilians who are supposed to go back to their lives and work after finishing their service.”

The UAE introduced mandatory military service in June last year, which the government said was designed to “instil values of loyalty and sacrifice in the hearts of the citizens”.

Men between 18 and 30 years of age, who have completed high school, serve nine months and those without a high school diploma serve two years. Military service for women is optional.

The Emirati sources said “many” conscripts have been sent to Yemen but neither knew the exact number of conscripts deployed. They added that a number of families have recently been told that their sons will be sent to Yemen while completing their military service.

The UAE has suffered multiple casualties since deploying troops to Yemen. Although there is no official death toll, Yemen’s exiled Vice President Khalid Bahah said on 3 August that a “number” of Emiratis had “sacrificed their lives while supporting legitimacy in Yemen”.

On 8 August the official WAM news agency announced that three Emirati soldiers had been killed after their armoured vehicle was hit by a landmine. Two others were killed in July according to state owned media.

The latest Emirati casualties – who were not conscripts – have been described as “martyrs” by the country’s leaders.

“They have written glory and heroism with their blood for the sake of peace and backing trodden people [in Yemen],” said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, ruler of Dubai and vice president of the UAE, while visiting the soldiers’ families to offer his condolences.

Sheikh Mohammed said the country’s leaders would “spare no effort for the welfare of their families” and Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has pledged to treat the three slain Emiratis as “Saudi martyrs financially and morally”.

The treatment of the three men as martyrs was criticised as a distraction by the Emirati source close to families who have had their loved ones sent to fight in Yemen.

“Whenever an Emirati dies in war they [the authorities] make the announcement quickly, call him Shaheed (martyr), and top leaders start tweeting about them,” they said. “The leaders then visit the victim’s family and promise them money.”

“They [the authorities] do all that to have people forget the basic question: Why are these guys taken there? Their country is the UAE but they are not defending here. This is their way to divert people’s attention away from this important question.”

Official media said the soldiers’ families were “proud” to have been visited by the country’s leaders, adding that the families had said they “would remain faithful to the UAE and its wise leadership”.

But Emiratis whose sons are being sent to fight in Yemen as conscripts are allegedly taking a different position on the UAE’s military activities.

“Families are angry their sons are being forced into war,” said an Emirati source, again asking to remain anonymous, fearing reprisals from authorities. “But they can’t do anything about it – if they speak out then they will be sent to prison.”

“People will not speak about this in public because it is very dangerous to do so, but in private those affected are not happy.”

Violence, from Ferguson, USA to Iraq

This video from the USA is called Why Did Iraq Ban Blackwater? Jeremy Scahill on Security, Fallujah, Training (2007).

By Hugh Gusterson in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in the USA:

04/15/2015 – 15:17

American violence from Ferguson to Fallujah

“The choice of weapons is important because it radically affects what we are, and at stake in that choice is the risk of losing our soul.” —Grégoire Chamayou

I was reading the book A Theory of the Drone by the French philosopher Grégoire Chamayou when I heard that yet another American black man had been killed by a white police officer, this time in South Carolina. Actually, “killed” is too generic a word. In the video of the incident, the police officer leans forward a little, raises his gun to eye level to make his aim more precise, and shoots Walter Scott in the back as he runs away. Scott was executed. Anyone who has watched the video, which was taken by a bystander, can only be disturbed by the professional methodical coldness with which Scott is taken out with eight bullets.

It is the same professional methodical coldness with which the drone operator kills. In his book, Chamayou argues that assassination, combat, and law enforcement have become jumbled together in US counterinsurgency programs. He wants to re-separate them. He points out that the Obama administration has defended drone strikes as justified by both the laws of war and the norms of law enforcement, even though the legal frameworks regulating war and policing are quite different, indeed often opposed.

Under the laws of war, combatants are excused from the usual prohibition against killing, but on condition that they kill in carefully circumscribed ways. The killing is of and by combatants, and must take place in a declared war zone, within which soldiers are free to kill their enemy counterparts at will, even shooting them in the back, unless the target is trying to surrender. Those engaged in law enforcement, on the other hand, can hunt criminals more freely across space, but killing them is considered a last resort, justified only by exceptional circumstances. Quoting UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston, Chamayou writes that in law enforcement, “the use of lethal force should remain the exception … it is permissible only if it is the sole available means in the face of a threat that is ‘instant, overwhelming, and leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation.’”

Whichever set of norms the United States chooses, according to Chamayou, US drone strikes are illegal. The civilian CIA employees killing people in Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia, countries against which the United States has not declared war, are violating the laws of war: They are not combatants and they are killing outside a warzone. At the same time, given that drones can only kill their targets or let them go free, the personnel operating them are violating the fundamental axiom of law enforcement that one apprehend suspects with the least possible amount of force, killing only in exceptional circumstances.

In its use of drones for counterinsurgency, then, the United States has melded the paradigms of war and law enforcement to its convenience and given itself an overly generous license to kill.

Meanwhile at home, US domestic police forces are also increasingly integrating the paradigms of law enforcement and counterinsurgency with the result that people like Scott, stopped for a tail-light violation, end up dead. According to the New York Times, under a program that transfers military equipment to local law enforcement, US police departments—often serving communities of less than 100,000— have since 2006 taken possession of $4.3 billion worth of military equipment, including over 800 armored vehicles, 50,000 night-vision pieces, 94,000 machine guns, and 530 airplanes and helicopters. Over 100 campus police departments have also taken military equipment, including grenade-launchers. Montgomery County, Texas, bought a drone it wants to equip with tasers and rubber bullets. While in the past only major cities had SWAT teams, now 80 percent of US towns with populations between 25,000 and 50,000 have them, and there are 50,000 SWAT team raids a year in the United States. Some raids that have made the news have been on barber shops and animal shelters guilty of code violations. (To see how absurd this has become, watch this police force recruitment video for Springdale, Arkansas, population 70,000, playing up its SWAT team.)

US policing, in other words, is increasingly seen by the police themselves as a form of counterinsurgency, designed to control hostile populations whose lives lack value. As if they were operating in Iraq or Afghanistan, US police infiltrate and spy on adversary networks, stop and search people at will, and bust down doors in the middle of the night with guns drawn. Recently the Guardian revealed that Chicago has been operating “the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site”—a detention facility where arrestees, some of them minors, are held off the books, with no recourse to legal advice, and are often shackled for long periods and even beaten during interrogation. Just as US soldiers have killed hundreds of Iraqi civilians for not stopping at checkpoints—which are often poorly marked—so Scott lost his life for running away from a traffic stop.

For people of color and the poor, the United States is becoming a war zone. Anyone skeptical should consider the numbers. Estimates of how many insurgent and civilian foreigners the United States has killed by drone vary; the highest estimate, roughly 5,241 over 13 years, comes from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. That is 403 deaths a year. In the United States, a recent government report revealed that over eight years (2003 through 2009 plus 2011), police killed an average of 928 people each year. That’s more than twice as many as the highest estimate of drone deaths in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Afghanistan combined. (Details of individual deaths can be found at

The four American security contractors working for Blackwater Worldwide, who were just sentenced by a US federal judge for randomly killing 14 innocent civilians in Baghdad, claimed to be acting in self-defense, until their story broke down. Likewise, after North Charleston, South Carolina police officer Michael Slager shot Scott in the back as he ran away, Slager reported that they had struggled and that he was acting in self-defense. Had a witness not made a video of Slager shooting Scott in the back as he ran away, we would not have known the truth.

But the people at ground zero, African-Americans at home and Muslims abroad, don’t need videos to know the truth. The truth is that the American deployment of violence has gone badly off the rails. Violence is always described in carefully crafted official statements as discriminate or unavoidable; wrongful deaths as regrettable and unusual errors of judgement. The truth, though, is that violence is now often the first resort. Acting under cover of law, weaponized Americans have become a lawless force.

Another French philosopher, Michel Foucault, argued that imperial powers experiment with new techniques of social control in their colonies and then use them at home. Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan have become laboratories for new techniques of order and control that, it is now clear, have definitively failed. Chamayou quotes the Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud as saying, “I spent three months trying to recruit and got only 10 to 15 persons. One US attack and I got 150 volunteers.” David Kilcullen, Gen. David Petraeus’ special adviser on counterinsurgency, made the same point in 2009 testimony to Congress: “The drone strikes are highly unpopular. They are deeply aggravating to the population. And they’ve given rise to an anger that coalesces the population around the extremists.”

When counterinsurgency fails, we can leave Iraq and Afghanistan. But we cannot leave Ferguson, Missouri and all the other American cities like it, where racially vindictive, militarized policing is costing the authorities what counterinsurgency theorists have always identified as the prize: the hearts and minds of communities. When entire communities believe that their lives do not matter to the state, the nation is in peril.

Hugh Gusterson is a professor of anthropology and international affairs at George Washington University. His expertise is in nuclear culture, international security, and the anthropology of science. He has written two books on the culture of nuclear weapons scientists and antinuclear activists: Nuclear Rites: A Weapons Laboratory at the End of the Cold War (University of California Press, 1996) and People of the Bomb: Portraits of America’s Nuclear Complex (University of Minnesota Press, 2004). Gusterson also co-edited Why America’s Top Pundits Are Wrong (University of California Press, 2005) and its sequel, The Insecure American (University of California Press, 2009). He is currently writing a book on the polygraph. Previously, he taught at MIT’s program on Science, Technology, and Society, and at George Mason’s Cultural Studies program.

Not only military equipment from the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan etc. has gone to local police in the USA. In quite some cases veterans from these wars, some of them suffering from PTSD, have joined local police forces.