About Me

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I saw active service in conventional, clandestine and covert units of the South African Defence Force. I was the founder of the Private Military Company (PMC) Executive Outcomes in 1989 and its chairman until I left in 1997. Until its closure in 1998, EO operated primarily in Africa helping African governments that had been abandoned by the West and were facing threats from insurgencies, terrorism and organised crime. EO also operated in South America and the Far East. I believe that only Africans (Black and White) can truly solve Africa’s problems. I was appointed Chairman of STTEP International in 2009 and also lecture at military colleges and universities in Africa on defence, intelligence and security issues. Prior to the STTEP International appointment, I served as an independent politico-military advisor to several African governments. Until recently, I was a contributing editor to The Counter Terrorist magazine. All comments in line with the topics on this blog are welcome. As I consider this to be a serious look at military and security matters, foul language and political or religious debates will not be entertained on this blog.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Many folks have written to me asking what my thoughts on the UN’s actions in Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire) are. I am no specialist on that country but what I read in the media is apparently very skewed to say the least.

A few days ago I was referred to an article written by South Africa’s former deputy minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Aziz Pahad. Pahad held that post from 1994 to 2008. This article was published on http://www.ocnus.net/artman2/publish/Analyses_12/What-is-the-Truth-about-the-Ivorian-Crisis.shtml, a site edited by Dr Gary Busch. Much of what Pahad wrote I had long suspected.

Then came other shocking rumours of the UN’s activities in Cote d’Ivoire. Whereas I did not doubt the content-authenticity of the rumours, I did not have any confirmation of these alleged actions. But, I thought that had PMC had acted in such a manner, the UN would have called for their immediate suspension and would have wanted them charged with war crimes. It was, after all, the UN that had fabricated it fair share of lies about EO and tried every trick in its large book to close the company.

The UN, it appears, is apparently above the law and entitled to break it whenever they wish without any action ever being taken against them.

It also seems to me that the UN works tirelessly to ensure that conflicts are kept alive and in the process, will do whatever it takes to ensure that chaos reigns, including deceit and murder. It is therefore no small wonder that this gigantic organisation feels threatened when a PMC is about to end a conflict. Should that happen, what would their function be? The ending of conflicts will make the UN redundant – something those in the organisation cannot afford.

One merely needs to travel to conflict areas in Africa to witness who drives the new 4 x 4s, who lives in the best hotels and who dines in the best restaurants. The answer: the UN and their parasitic NGOs.

Hot on the heels of my shock at new rumours of alleged UN activities in the Cote d’Ivoire, I was sent another article published on www.ocnus.net, titled “The End Game in the Ivory Coast”.

Reading this article I hoped that many African governments who are being held to ransom by the UN will finally come to realise that whereas there may be some good people in the UN, the organisation holds no good for them or their countries.

Dr Busch wrote the following:

The long political impasse of the Ivory Coast is coming to an end. The forces of the rebel leader, Alassane Ouattara have failed to get others to remove the elected President of the country, Gbagbo by force, sanction or military provocation. Now, electricity, water and most communications networks are shut off in the Northern rebel areas. Since 28 February the switch has been turned off.

The ONUCI (the United Nations occupying force) in Abidjan have found that they are being denied fuel supplies so have taken to theft and murder to keep their supplies available. (
See http://www.ocnus.net/artman2/publish/Dysfunctions_2/Caught-Robbing-Gas-Stataion-UN-Forces-Kill-3-Civilians.shtml) The rebel cause is unable to deliver any services to its captive populations on its own. During the nine years of occupation of the North they have built no institutions for public service or administration nor for the supply of water, electricity and fuel but have relied on the good will of the Gbagbo Government to supply these to them. Moreover they have not paid any taxes to the legitimate government during this period. They have not paid income taxes, customs duties, excise taxes or rents for the properties these tin pot warlords occupy or the services provided for them. There have been no contributions for social services (schools, hospitals, roads, etc.) during these nine years. All the costs of running the country and maintaining its position in the world through diplomacy, economic treaties, participation in international organisations, bank transfers to the French Treasury through the BCEAO and support for the CFA franc have been done by Gbagbo’s government.

The imposition of rebel warlords as members of the Cabinet of a joint government imposed by the French and the UN added nothing to their contributions to the State but cost the Ivoirian taxpayers a small fortune as each rebel minister demanded cabinet rank wages, fancy cars, and jobs for their families. It was a major cost to the government and the people of the Ivory Coast to keep these rebels in the styles in which they chose to live. This was tolerated and accepted by the people as it was part of an agreed process of disarmament and disengagement by the rebels. It was agreed that no elections should take place before the demobilisation, disarmament and reintegration (DDR) of all the armed forces was completed and the unification of the country achieved. Indeed, the UN specifically extended the term of Gbagbo as President through United Nations Resolution 1633 (2005) which extended Gbagbo’s term of office until this was achieved. This resolution demanded that all the parties signatories to the Linas-Marcoussis, Accra III and Pretoria Agreements, as well as all the Ivorian parties concerned, implement it fully and without delay...” [emphasis added] That is, the rebels must disarm before new elections could be held. That was part of every agreement. This was largely the agreement created by Thabo Mbeki who was the UN-appointed mediator. Nothing has changed in the legal requirements since.

What has changed is that the French were able to persuade the UN and President Gbagbo (but not his party, the FPI) that it was possible to hold elections in a divided country with armed rebels in charge of the North of the country and on the basis of a rigged electoral role provided by the French military company SAGEM. The presidential election in Ivory Coast was held on October 31st, 2010, with a second round on November 28th, 2010. The results of the election are disputed and the position of the Electoral Commission wholly discredited, even by members of that commission. The French and American ambassadors showed up at the campaign headquarters of Ouattara with one of his key electoral advisors. Without any authority the ambassadors and the Ouattara campaign manager announced that Ouattara had won the election. The next day the Constitutional Court said that Gbagbo had won the election. Since then the ‘international community’ has said that Ouattara was the legitimate president but the constitutional authorities of the country have said Gbagbo was the President.

None of this really matters any more. The ‘international community’ has introduced sanctions on the Ivory Coast and a ban on the country’s ability to deploy its assets retained by the French Treasury, It brags that it will starve Gbagbo out by stopping his financial ability to pay the army and the state employees. This has failed abysmally. Yesterday, 4 March 2011 Laurent Gbagbo paid over 60 per cent of civil servant salaries, suggesting Western sanctions meant to starve him of funds and force him to leave have not had full effect. The balance will be paid in three days.

Gbagbo has had great support from other African countries (except for the colonial satrapies of France). The UN and the French have been demanding that the ECOWAS and other African states invade the Ivory Coast to oust Gbagbo. They have refused, or offered such a feeble response, that any deployment of their forces in a hostile climate would quickly end with their soldiers being sent home in body bags. Two of the countries with the strongest armed forces on the continent, Angola and South Africa have been openly opposed to any military initiative to oust Gbagbo. These are two armies which have spent years in real battles and have plenty of equipment and battle-hardened soldiers who have experience in African wars. The supporters of Ouattara are raggedy irregulars who call themselves the New Forces and incompetent and inexperienced conscripts from Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger who have only ever fought over cattle, water and civil disputes. The Nigerian Army is sitting this out as they have their own battles to fight against a Muslim fundamentalist uprising in the North and an election to supervise. The presence offshore of the South African frigate Drakensberg has had a laxative effect on UN planners.

Being unable to starve Gbagbo out and without the military resources need to take on the regular Army (FANCI) and the FDS and CECOS units the irregular rebel force which has been concentrated on the Golf Hotel where Ouattara and his colleagues have hunkered down have relied on surreptitious acts of brutality against the civil population and the gendarmerie to try to provoke a response from Gbagbo’s forces. They have formed “the invisible commando” force which shoots at soldiers and policemen whenever a protest march is formed. They shoot, and often kill, policemen and then melt away into the arms of the UN emplacements and wait for a response from those who have been shot. They then call this response ‘genocide’ or an illegal use of force against civilians. The government forces have shown great restraint in their retaliation and the Ouattara people are growing ever more desperate. Two days ago they killed seven women and blamed this on Gbagbo’s forces, despite the fact that the presence of the ‘invisible commando’ force was filmed. Their crocodile tears have been reported as real by the UN and the US and have been echoed around the world as if they were true.

The UN knows it is a lie and only compounds this with additional lies. The UN Secretary-General just announced that Gbagbo had acquired three Mi-24 helicopters from Belarus in defiance of the UN sanctions. This was not only a deliberate lie but served to mask the fact that the UN had indeed brought in three Mi-24 helicopters for its own use. This was not admitted until three days later.

There is a mysterious aura which surrounds the UN and NGO personnel when it comes to facing reality. It is a special mind set which allows their personal prejudices and egos to be seen by them as facts even when confronted by the opposite. During the First Afghan war we were contacted by the UN, the NGOS and the journalists to see if we would fly them into the northern territories (then controlled in part by Massoud). We agreed and arranged for them to be picked up from Dushanbe where we had two helicopters. The UN, NGOs and journos arrived in Dushanbe and said, in great horror, “But these helicopters are armed.” I said “Of course they are armed”. We had two MI-24 gunships, fully armed with six Spetsnaz troops on board with long Afghan experience. They said “It is inappropriate for us to fly in armed helicopters. We are neutrals. We do not judge. We only want to help and report. Why are the helicopters armed?” I said they were armed because we wanted to be able to return. One helicopter would hover to provide ground cover and the other would deliver passengers. I explained that the people on the ground could not distinguish the fact that the plane was full of unarmed humanitarians until we landed and they introduced themselves. Therefore we would take all precautions. They flew but we started to get all sorts of calls from editors and assorted NGO luminaries asking us to use unarmed helicopters. After a week I told them to walk. I sent them a map of the Khyber Pass and told them where to go. It was a good lesson about these humanitarians. If they couldn’t see about their own safety what kind of judgements could they be making about other people’s problems. They are a special breed with a special kind of arrogance. As a rule they should not be believed or trusted.

So, despite the fact that the UN is continually lying to the rest of the world about the situation in the Ivory Coast and relying on their coterie of morally challenged NGOs and journalists to back up their specious claims, the UN presence is deteriorating badly. Gbagbo has ordered them out of the country but they refuse to go. Instead of supervising the disarmament of the rebels, which is their primary role in the mandate they were given for the Ivory Coast, they continue to rearm and supply the rebels with newer and more lethal equipment. Now they have helicopter gunships. Unfortunately for them Gbagbo’s troops do not rise to the bait. They have refused to engage in open warfare with the UN. The UN is opposed by unarmed civilians and they cannot deal with this.

There is a lot of rubbish being spoken about the civil war breaking out. There never was a civil war. The French stopped the Ivory Coast Army from wiping out the last holdouts of the rebellion in Bouake in 2002. Without the French and the UN forces there would be a civil war which would last for about three days. The 8,000 well-trained and armed forces of the legitimate government would wipe out the Forces Nouvelles even if the rebels actually decided to fight. It is only the French and the UN which are credible enemies. The problem for the UN and the French is that there are thousands, if not tens of thousands, of French and other foreign nationals in the Ivory Coast who will be targets the moment the ‘international community’ attacks. It takes only a glance at Libya to see what happens when ‘African mercenaries’ are caught, lynched and burned by Libyan democrats to envision what might happen if the French or others start killing Ivoirians.

So, the UN can push it but not too far. They can’t risk a full-fledged conflict without serious risk to themselves and to the civilian hostages. As long as Gbagbo’s forces refuse to retaliate the UN is powerless. It is the rebels who are growing weaker every day. They have no legitimacy in the lands they have occupied over nine years and now, with no water, electricity, hospitals; schools and transport the local population are likely to rise against them. They have nothing to offer. Ouattara demanded an end to cocoa sales. This affected only his own people. The rebels are finished. It is only a matter of time before the people of the North throw them out. Gbagbo needs to do nothing. The men trapped in the Golf Hotel realise this and they are growing desperate.

Soon the ‘international’ community will see that their hypocrisy and deceit in the Ivory Coast will be exposed for the whole world to see. They are talking about a military response to the crisis of North Africa but doing nothing. They want ’democracy’ but apparently only for Muslims. What a shambles.


Steve Tongue said...

Probably the most sensible account of the UN's failure I have ever read.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

When I first read the pieces written by Aziz Pahad and Dr Busch, I found it strange that no-one has followed up on this matter. Why has this not been followed up by the media – or are they plotting something to attempt to discredit the two writers?



Unknown said...

The un mandates neighboring countries to peace keeping duties in africa. Its a mandate that is flawed at best. How can you have "peace keepers" from a country that is inherently corrupt and violent like nigeria keeping peace when their country is wracked by corruption, nepotism, sectarian violence and war crimes? I vividly recall watching nigerian so called peace keepers perpetrating war crimes and atrocities against suspected collaborators and civilians in sierra leone and liberia. The un failed the people of those countries massively by empowering thugs to supposedly keep impartial peace. The un are farcical at best. Just like when we had the clowns with blue helmets in our townships circa 1990's. What a fiasco that was! Just ask ken oosterbroek. I think that was his name.... The un cannot and will not work if it remains to be run with its current standard operating procedures.........

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

It is indeed a shocking situation, michael b.

The crimes committed by peacekeepers throughout Africa remain hidden from the general public and when a comment is made, the UN’s propaganda machine kicks into overdrive. The crimes they have committed on our continent surpass those committed by any PMC/PSC. And of course, their support (usually) to both sides in a conflict are legendary.

Despite there being some people in the UN who really do try to make a positive difference, they are few and far between.

I wish African governments will realise that by allowing the UN a foothold in their countries, they are propelling themselves into chaos.



Pauline said...

Mr Busch is a misguided evangelist who is being paid by the Ggagbo regime to portray the conflict in religious and ethnic terms. He is certainly not an authority on Ivory Coast and you are discrediting your blog by quoting him at such length. The UN mission perpetrating "war crimes" is, again, insidious propaganda from Gbagbo acolytes. Sure, the UN mission in IC is deserving of criticism, but it would suit you to look elsewhere for contributors to this debate.

Michael Carl said...

Yes, I know you have concerns about me because I freelance with World Net Daily, but I'm presently working on a story about the Egyptian army's aggression against Christians since the removal of Mubarak.

What do you know about Chief of Staff Sami Enan, the presumed leader? And will he continue to either promote or allow the army to shoot-up the churches.

If you respond, I will not quote you directly, but say, 'A South African security and intelligence analyst who asks not to be identified says...'

I can use some help here, because the supposed experts over here in the U. S. are proving to be either ignorant or myopic.

Herbert said...

Mr Barlow,
Thank you for shedding light on Ivory Coast. From the beginning I had smelt a suspicious odor. I failed to properly research the issue. Looking at your blog, the links and some of my own sources, I see the UN has again brought forth another stinking, steaming pile of mendacity.
In my 43 years of military and intelligence service I have had many "opportunities to work with the UN." Although I agree with almost all of Dr Busch's article, I can no longer agree that "some good people work at the UN." It is a poison tree; you partake of its fruit at your mortal peril. The people, all of them, are not ignorant--they will do and say whatever they deem necessary to achieve their end. The end always justifies the means. They care not a whit about anything else. Never, ever trust them.
If I sound a bit shrill, it's because I've seen good men die, as I know you have, at the feet of these appointed Brahmins who never so much as blinked.
And I am sorely disappointed that the United States is partnered with the UN magnificos in Ivory Coast, or anywhere else for that matter.

My best regards,

Raven said...

Hi Eeben,
Once again, thank you for a great read and insightful report.
A bit off topic, I heard the UK & SAS’s over stepped their boundaries in Lyberia…
Referring to the SAS party captured over the weekend, hoping for some comment from your side soon.
Kind Regards

Danie Crowther said...

In my modest opinion the UN will always fail if they do not become a real independent broker in these conflicts. Unfortunately policy in the UN Security Council is always determined by their biggest funders, the US and France, and therefore can never be independent. The agenda in Cote d' Ivoire is clearly driven by the interest of these two nations. France with its continuing policy of "FranceAfrique" seek to control it's monopolistic domination in the exploitation of natural resources in its former colonies, while the US seek to entrench itself as a dominant military force in the gulf in order to keep their oil reserves intact and ensure a source of oil that is not controlled my Muslim states. Although oil is insignificant in Cote d'Ivoire, in a geo-political sense rulers that are sympathetic to the US in the region is of strategic importance. Both these countries are seeking to establish a government that is sympathetic to their interest. The UN is the tool used to achieve this.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks for your comment Pauline.

Whereas I cannot comment on Dr Busch’s religious inclinations, I do find that much of what he wrote dovetails in many ways with what Mr Aziz Pahad wrote. To us who live in Africa, these matters are of both great concern and great interest.

The UN’s failures across Africa are, despite attempts to hide them, well known and documented. Too many of these missions have been severely tainted by gross misconduct, contraband smuggling, prostitution, crime and so forth. Added to this are major command and control problems. These matters have all been well publicised. Therefore, I do not find the comments that they are perpetrating war crimes insidious at all.

An article that appeared on 7 March by TWN and sent to me began as follows: “Information related to the alleged atrocious death of 7 women pro-OUATTARA killed by the regular army and quickly relayed by some Western media without verifying it was totally false; an intolerable made up story that brought a real confusion yesterday in the camp of the allies (France, UNOCI, OUATTARA and his terrorists)”.

It will be interesting to read what the other visitors have to say on these matters.



Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Having seen how a Norwegian journalist used a single email to concoct and fabricate a story, my answer remains “No comment or interest”, MichaelCarl. It’s nothing personal.



Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks for your comment, Herbert. As you will see, Pauline does not agree with Dr Busch’s article. That in itself is not a bad thing as debate will (hopefully) work at trying to uncover the true story about this looming crisis.

Your views on this organisation are very close to mine. My personal experience with the UN is that they will not hesitate to lie about anyone who they view as a threat to their livelihood. They will do everything in their power to take over the work of someone else, use a grossly inflated budget, thousands of “troops” and then “lose control” over the situation, claiming they don’t have sufficient funds or “troops”.

I still maintain that if a PMC/PSC – call it whatever you wish – did the things they do, every possible asset at their disposal would be deployed to get those people/companies to court. This however appears to not be the case. In trying to resolve this issue, it is going to become another problem that Africa will have to live with.



Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Yes, they did, Stephan. That, as you know, has led to a large embarrassment to the UK and especially the Foreign policy planners, especially as the team was apparently captured by 2 Libyan farmers – at least, that is what a British paper reported.

Being as thinly stretched as it is, with troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to name but 2 countries, the UK should possibly realise that it cannot sustain its forces in a war/uprising/rebellion in yet another country. Added to that are very deep defence cuts. I think that committing UK -or any other troops- to Libya would be not a wise thing to do. The window to effectively intervene has started closing.



Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

A good comment, Danie but that being the case, the UN cannot claim to be an “impartial” organisation aimed at representing everyone, least of all its claims that it is an impartial broker.

Whereas the world is driven by interests – especially military and resources – I fear that we are watching a time bomb about to explode. This will require an even larger so-called UN peacekeeping force to intervene to keep peace where it does not exist.

Another article (I cannot verify its accuracy) dated 6 March stated that :”Thirty containers from Chad suspected of containing weapons were seized Friday, March 4, 2011 in by the local gendarmerie (police station) in Garoua-Boulai. These were containers of weapons destined for the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire”. I have to ask why the UN needed 30 more containers of weapons?

Choosing the UN as a tool, on a continent where they are generally derided and scorned at, may not be the smartest idea. In a sense it’s like using a screwdriver to hammer in a 6-inch nail. Something will end up being irreparably damaged.



matt said...

Eeben, I was curious about your views on the Libyan uprising? From my point of view, I feel bad for the country because I feel they will be torn apart and brutalized by a civil war--but that is what war does. But I also look at objectively from a war fighting point of view.

What I am thinking of is-- who has the advantage, what strategies will work, and how could the rebel forces compete against Gaddafi's forces?

It is my view that what ever side gets organized first, will have the advantage. Even if one side has air power, I still default to the idea that a group that is well led and organized, with the proper strategy can do great damage. Although both sides in the conflict are learning and continuously improving their strategies, so who knows?

My question to you is how would you advise the rebel forces if you were their leader, or a consultant to a leader? And what do you think Gaddafi will do in order to suppress this revolution and regain control? (I noticed someone has started bombing oil wells--either rebels or Gaddafi's forces as one move)

Saudi Arabia is another area that demands attention, and who knows how that will play out? But if it does blow like Libya, the global economic impact would be stunning to say the least. Interesting times.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I always held the belief that Egypt was the Centre of Gravity for the MENA countries, Matt. If Egypt “went”, it would have a domino effect across the MENA.

What happened in Libya (and Egypt) as well as others was nothing short of a massive and complete intelligence failure. The writing had been on the wall for some time but it was simply ignored. A problem of this magnitude, left for too long, can rapidly spiral out of control and be exploited by other elements, be they democratic, criminal, and religious and so forth. When “peaceful protests” become armed protests and in the process begin to attack the infrastructure, I think the entire situation changes.

I also do not think that the talk by foreign governments to arm the rebels will do the situation any good. In fact, such operations in the past have resulted in serious repercussions in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and so forth. How does one control these weapons that are being handed out? How can one ensure they are not used to perpetrate crimes? What guarantees are there that the weapons won’t end up in the hands of organised terrorism?

Whereas ultimately, a political solution will be necessary – especially if the domino effect is to be stopped – I suspect that the pro-Ghadaffi forces will triumph, with or without international support. It is only once the shooting stops that talks can be held. By interfering, I think we are placing ourselves in a very difficult position as this will only encourage others to follow suit and try to overthrow governments. What would we do if we were a government in a similar situation?

At the moment, the rebels seem to have lost some momentum and initiative. Also, they appear to have overstretched themselves and that danger is obvious. This hands the Libyan forces numerous options to use against the rebels.

In a nutshell, the strategy to resolve problem is fairly simple. The question is do we want it to be resolved or does it suit us that it continues?

I think the Libyan forces will begin to apply more action and firepower to suppress what is happening. They no longer have much of a choice. But this will expose them internationally as being violent and brutal towards protesters. But, let’s face it – as long as there is violence, there can be no talks.

You make a very important point re Saudi Arabia. I think there are some very nervous people around at the moment.



matt said...

Boy, Libyan forces are now bombing oil facilities. Probably to deny controlling forces that asset. Also to create more chaos.


Also, it sounds like Saudi Arabia has fired on protesters during the day of rage protests. Not good, and the oil markets have reacted. Yikes.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

The world is certainly getting chaotic, Matt.

I still think the Libyan forces will take back what the rebels took. It will of course be interesting to see what the Libyan government thinks about those western governments that supported them for years and suddenly turned against them when the troubles started. However, the window of opportunity for the West to intervene has started closing.

Saudi is another critical area that will need careful watching. The shooting of protestors must surely send shockwaves across the oil markets – but then, isn’t most of this because of oil?

But while all of this is happening, where is the UN? Why aren’t they bringing about peace in these countries? Isn’t this after all what they claim they do “best”?



Unknown said...

Hi Eben, How does one get a hold of you in private? i.e email address perhaps.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Send me your email address via the blog as well as why you wish to establish contact, Lerato.



Giorgio Massa said...

Dear Mr Eeben I'm an italian graduate, I'm working with Prof. Tom Farer(Josef Korbel School for Int. Studies, University of Denver) on a study about the use of PMC by UN, and I'd like to send you some questions about this topic. My goal is to demonstrate that PMC can be a better way for UN to fix danger situation like actually in Lybia. I'd be pleased if you can send my an email address where I can write to you. You can send me it at giorgiomassa1987@gmail.com
Kind Regards

Giorgio Massa

John said...

Good Morning Eeben,

The evil that is the UN is truly mind-boggling when put this way. I truly believe that we have hard time fathoming how foul some people and organizations truly are - they are not even close to our moral baseline. Your experiences are invaluable bringing this out to the rest of us.

It is interesting that some of your commentators are from WND. There are no coincidences in life, they are a media outlet that gets hammered incessantly for asking questions. The modern media outlets of blogs etc are a true wing of the ongoing conflict on this planet between good and evil
(doesn't that relate to Tsu?). But....I can see why you are very reluctant to give any journalist any purchase in your affairs. Your reply is, as I have found on this site, very classy.

Thanks for the info.


userdude said...

Hi Eeben,

Here in the states, we are wringing our hands about Libya. Intervene? If so, how? What is the right thing to do? What is the principled thing to do? Whose interests are at stake, and in what way may we impact the situation taking into account all of these questions?

My thought at the moment concerns one that I am seeing in your comments about the UN - mainly, that the UN can do nothing right, yet there is always the antagonistic point of "What is the UN doing?"

Take UN our and put in US, and I don't think the difference is all that stark. Primarily, determining a course of action from a strategic position will be construed as an act of aggression and possibly war, yet not to intervene in some visible (and not so visible) ways will be seen as flaccid and lacking in objective.

So it is a catch-22. Do nothing, and get blamed, or do something, and get blamed, and invite the wrath of those whose interests may be negatively impacted in both cases.

What to do? This is the nature of politics and diplomacy. I have always perceived that you are not too interested in these two areas. Indeed, your posts concerning these are the least interesting, IMO.

So my question is, as an exercise, if the current Cote d'Ivoirian or Libyan regimes were to approach you about helping them maintain power, what would your response be?

I am guessing you would probably not answer this question, at least not directly. My ultimate point is, do you believe enough in your approach that you would have a decisive response to such an inquiry from such a media-saturated situation? And do you believe, ultimately, that the Ivorian and Libyan civil wars are as you are indicating in your latest posts and comments (a propaganda campaign on behalf of anti-African interests)?


Unknown said...

Egypt. Bahrain. Yemen. Libya. Is it a case of the CIA sure have been busy? There is a new wave of consciousness sweeping the arab world. I think however that they may just be booting out old despots to merely "democratically" vote in the next autocratic bunch. Power corrupts especially in areas where there are liquid assets in the ground. Where the un should be assisting is in natural disaster ravaged countries ala japan. Let them assist the civilians affected by the quake and tsunami.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thank you for your mail, Giorgio.

I am sorry for taking so long to respond but I have been unable to do so till now.

Due to a rather hectic work load, I am not really able to assist students anymore. Furthermore, some journalists have contacted me using the “cover” of claiming to be students and due to these dishonest and nefarious approaches, I am afraid that I am now a lot more hesitant to help students/journalists.

When you have completed your work, I will however gladly read it for you and comment on it.



Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I suppose we are also to blame John as we simply accept, without questioning, that they are doing good all of the time.

I am not an activist but I believe that there are times when one should voice an opinion about something. As this organisation went all out to lie and discredit EO/myself, using its massive propaganda machinery, I felt it only correct to point out that they lied – I suspect to hide their own inadequacies.

I have had several journalists approaching me as “students” – trying to get me to give them something to write about. And then they actually have the gall to talk about deception!

I suppose however that when a 20-something year old in the media has the power to influence, some of them exploit it without even considering the implications of their deception. Then they act as if they know and understand strategy...



Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I don’t think it is the CIA, michael b.

One needs to wonder if this new wave of consciousness is genuine or is it inspired by forces that wish to suck the West into another problem? I suppose only time will tell but I somehow think that we are opening ourselves up for problems that we may not need.

I have to wonder where the Arab League is? They asked the West to intervene – why didn’t they intervene? Why was the intelligence failure across the MENA so massive?

It will be interesting to see how the UN peacekeepers handle this one, especially as it was the UN that called for action such as we are now seeing.



Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I am sorry for the late response Jared, but I have been unable to respond until now. I know it is a poor excuse but it is the only one I have.

What we are now witnessing is a foreign action brought about by calls that began with the Arab League. Yes, it is a Catch-22 situation but does the West really wish to go in with land forces? I suspect that the attacks will be long-range missile attacks coordinated with air strikes. However, there will be civilian casualties and we all know what happens then. I am sure that there will be a lot of West-bashing before this is over.

The nature of the beast is “do something and suffer the consequences of your actions”. Do nothing and likewise suffer.

What could a PMC do? First of all, there was a massive intelligence failure across the region. Governments were caught off-guard and were unable to react. When they did react, it was with violence as the argument was that an armed protestor is not a peaceful protestor. A PMC that goes in blind will remain blind and not make the impression they wish to make.

Ivory Coast has now been buried – as Libya will be – and no PMC can change that. Helping a legitimate government is one thing – helping a legitimate government that is deploying armed force to quell protests is another. Given the resolutions passed on Ivory Coast and Libya, I think it would be foolish to enter those areas now in support of their current and about-to-be deposed governments.

Had these countries witnessed an attempt to overthrown them by means of violent action (insurgencies, foreign attacks, etc), then a PMC could have considered going to their aid as no one else would.

I don’t think these are anti-African as much as they are pro-interest based.



Unknown said...

Hi Eeben,
might be late for your response in discussion but anyhow i'm little puzzled about your surprise on intelligence systems MENA countries failing so badly.
Their intelligence systems doesn't matter how brutal were was based primarily for 30 and something years on creation of charade where serving a ruler and not a country was primary objective which gives you financial as well carrier benefits but surely not necessary intelligence skills.Systems like that can at the best create mediocre intelligence officers which would gradually and naturally evolve into liars about their own contribution in country's security.That would automatically strip of integrity and competence and much resourceful intelligence services then MENA countries pretend to be.
Your view on UN's role of in Siera Leone i think goes right to the point...

My best regards.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

You are never too late to respond to anything on my blog, Laki.

You are quite correct but we need to realise that the MENA are not the only ones where these failures took place.

You are also correct in that their systems were based on informers who reported what they thought their paymasters wanted to hear. Your comment that they were serving a ruler and not a country is likewise spot on. But, there are services outside of MENA who focus on MENA, yet the entire situation seems to have been misread despite numerous warning signs.

My surprise lay in the fact that there have also been numerous foreign intelligence services training these people and one can only surmise why they were all caught with their pants down. Where did the fault lie – with the training or with the students? I suppose we will never know.



Unknown said...

whatrver happened to hearts and minds? it worked well for many years. building allies in countries where foreign troops were deployed. i believe that the un and nato need to review their carpet bombing scorched earth approach to diplomacy that they currently employ as their standard operating procedure. you will make more friends and allies out of the local population if you arent screaming overhead and pounding the ground with smart bombs, controlled by stupid people. collaterral damage is inevitable and creates enemies out of potential friendlies. gadaffi is a megalomaniac and will never capitulate without spilling blood. lets hope that nato can live with massive loss of life caused ultimately by their bombing campaign. this chuck everything at them including the kitchen sink has worked so wonderfully in holiday spots like club afghanistan and iraq.those locals just looove the un and nato forces. sarcasm intended.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I am not too sure what will be achieved by the support given to the anti-Ghadaffi forces Mike, especially now that it has been confirmed that there are Al Qaeda members in these forces. Of course, it is almost certain that eventually a regime change will occur but at what cost?

Ghadaffi gave support to many acts of international terror but at that time, nothing was really done to curtail his support to these acts. Whereas I can (finally!) applaud the UN for actually making a decision and following through on it, I am still wondering where their peacekeepers are. I suspect that many lives will be lost before they finally show up.

I think time will tell how effective this has all been but air power alone will not resolve the problem. As you point out, the collateral damage it causes may well result in something we did now wish to see in Libya in the first place. But I still suspect that these revolutions are all good news for extremists.

I often wonder why other megalomaniacs in Africa are left alone to thrive on chaos while everyone sits by and watches.



Nilster said...

Eeben, not sure if you're keeping tabs but interesting update on Erik Prince/ Blackwater and Saracen on NYT topics pages, link below


Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thank you for the link, Nilster.

I always have a laugh at how EO is constantly brought into a story. Other companies are PMCs yet EO remains a “mercenary” company. Also, I find the comment that Saracen consists of “the remnants of Executive Outcomes” – it will be a good day when some journalists can get their facts correct.

It is also ironic that Somalia claims to want help but then cancels a contract when it gets help. It makes me question their wisdom. I am no fan of Saracen (personal reasons not for discussion) but their help is better than what the Somalis are doing to help themselves.



Unknown said...


Here is a look at waht we can expect at the hands of the "International Communities" chosen leader in Ivory Coast?

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

This report in many ways confirms what I was told Brad.

It is indeed a shocking fact that what happened there was not a move towards to peaceful “democracy” but rather one that is implemented through the barrel of a gun. Despite utterances to the contrary, nothing will happen to those who committed the atrocities.

I fear that this may be the tip of the iceberg but it was, after all, UN backed.



Alan said...


I've been watching development in Libya with interets in the hopes that the US would NOT get involved thus permitting 'RED on RED' scenario to achieve full maturity. Hopes now dashed (as I suspected they would be), I continue to watch, with interest Colonel Ghadaffi's Tactics Techniques and Procedures (TTP). With a predictably failed air campaign and now both French and English boots on the ground, he must certainly be reassured his TTP's are producing the desired results. Strange isn't it, the Taliban have little concern for the Afghan...."No Fly Zone" they just keep slugging it out. In response to John's question regarding US "foreign policy"... there is none.

Regards, Al
In Afghanistan. Yet another foreign misadventure.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I must admit that I am surprised at the actions that have been undertaken Alan. For years, Ghadaffi has been assisting numerous “actors” in Africa but he has become probably the single largest patron of several governments in Africa.

There is a good piece on http://www.isn.ethz.ch/isn/Current-Affairs/ISN-Insights/Detail?lng=en&id=128677&contextid734=128677&contextid735=128561&tabid=128561128677 about the current situation.

I suspect that the West was too quite to jump into the fray. The air campaign, whilst delivering serious damage to the Libyan forces, can never succeed on its own. Plus, it has allowed the Libyan army to adapt to the threat of air strikes. Their TTPs now make it more difficult for the opposing forces.

I wonder where the UN’s peacekeepers are?

Take care out there where you are.