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French Mercenaries To Patrol Somalia, Blackwater in Mia Farrow's Dream for Darfur Print
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, June 16 -- That the UN might pay mercenaries to do peacekeeping missions appears closer all the time. French private military firm Secopex has announced a contract with Somalia's Transitional Federal Government, worth 50 to 100 million Euros over three years, to patrol the coastline and to protect president Yusuf, whose plane is fired at every time it leaves or enters Mogadishu airport.

  Secopex founder Pierre Marziali has been quoted that the company will "be seeking backing from the International Maritime Organization and other UN bodies, as well as from the European Union." He added that he expected the EU countries to respond all the more readily following the decision of the UN Security Council to authorize international navies to go into Somali waters to combat piracy. So here is an early beneficiary of the Council's piracy resolution.

   Monday at the UN, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson Michele Montas about Pierre Marziali's statement that backing will be sought from "UN bodies... Is it in the UN mandate to pay money to a private security firm to protect a transitional federal Government?"  Ms. Montas replied, "I can inquire into this, but I don't think so."

Friday, the idea of the UN paying U.S.-based Blackwater to go into Darfur was given the blessing of actress Mia Farrow, at a Press breakfast high over UN Plaza. The only problem, Ms. Farrow told Inner City Press and others, was that Sudan might not given Blackwater visas. Last week in Sudan, officials said they intend to pull the visas of the employees of U.S.-based military contractor Lockheed Martin in July, when the extension to its $250 million no-bid contract runs out.  Secopex apparently will not have that problem in Somalia. One wonders what the UN's security chief for Somalia, who has a satellite phone with a "Mission Impossible" ring-tone, thinks of all this. He has confirmed that resource extraction firms in Somalia's breakaway Puntland region have hired up second-tier militias to protect and extend their claims. Would Secopex work for commercial fishing trawlers arguably violating Somalia's exclusive economic zone?
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