Years ago, the private military contractor Blackwater USA made millions of dollars in U.S. Defense contracts during the prime days of the conflict in Iraq, and on top of all those millions, they made thousands of headlines for reasons less than stellar too. Now, former Blackwater founder Erik Prince is heading back to his playground in the Middle East to continue business as usual, but with some changes.
According to Buzzfeed News, “Backed by Chinese money, Prince started the Hong Kong-listed Frontier Services Group (FSG) as a logistics company in 2014. Since then it’s expanded from operating Africa-based projects to offering logistics and security services for China’s One Belt, One Road initiative, a global infrastructure strategy adopted by the Chinese government. FSG has additional offices in mainland China; Southeast Asia; and Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
A subsidiary of the company based in Dubai — Frontier Logistics Consultancy DMCC — registered as a foreign company with Iraq’s Ministry of Trade, a document from February 2018 shows. The office is based in Basra, an oil-rich region in the south of the country, a source said.” This is a disturbing indicator for those with an understanding of U.S.-Chinese relations in North Africa, since the U.S. and the Chinese are in the middle of a race to build up economic and military relations to see which of the outside superpowers will be the top dog in that section of the world.
This budding relationship with the Chinese is a point of concern for NATO and U.S. interests, the article points out why by stating that several months back, “FSG came under fire for announcing it was planning a training center for Xinjiang — China’s far-west region where heavy surveillance and detentions of the Muslim population of Uighurs have drawn condemnation around the world. It later removed the posting from its website. Prince said he had no knowledge of the deal. Foreign private security companies in Iraq are required to obtain a license in order to operate. Iraq’s Ministry of Interior, which regulates private security companies, did not respond to inquiries about whether the company had applied for or obtained an operational license.”
As of now no other private military contractor operating in Iraq currently has heard of any of Prince’s or FSG’s activities or active contracts in the operational theater.
Source: Buzzfeed News, CSIS.org