PMCs and PICs are being used more and more, with activity and new start-ups steadily increasing everywhere. And while it’s certainly not a new profession, or even a new industry, it is right now experiencing an enourmous boom in business.
And at the heart of that boom is the middle east, or more specifically, the Yemeni Conflict.
The conflict has seen some new developments in the industry, with more and more companies and contractors pouring in from all sides, all hired by everyone involved in what is by all definition a Proxy War between Iran and the Arab League, or as a colleague put it; The Arab-Persian money War.
To go a little more into details, from the Arab side you have the most recent news of when UAE recruited a large number of Colombians employed by Academi (formerly Blackwater) to operate in Yemen and contribute in the fight against the Iranian-backed Houthis and their current allies the Saleh-Loyalists. And Academia with a 529 million dollar contract, operated in the conflict until they suffered heavy loses in the Bab-el-Mandeb region, after which they pulled out. Only to be replaced by forces from DynCorp, another PMC operating in the middle east with a new contract worth roughly 3 billion USD.
Saudi Arabia too have been using Academi in Yemen with their own contract priced at 533 million in addition to the UAE contract, and later other PMCs like Griffin Security and ArmourGroup International have been hired by both the Saudis and the UAE either collectively or separately. The current dynamic in which company is currently operating in which region is very telling, where one company suffers loses and pulls back, another company is immediately hired and deployed to that region in order to maintain any captured territory or at the time tactical advantage. And the PMCs are not only used to fight against the rebels, but also to provide security and policing services in a country where a trip to the marketplace can be a death sentence. Among the 33 officially registered PMCs and PICs operating in Yemen, security firms like G4S and Argus, who all provide everything from escorting services to providing security at Banks, Shops, Schools and protecting Healthcare workers, Human Rights organizations and relief efforts while patrolling the streets and arresting criminals. In a country where there are currently more PMCs and PICs operating than in Iraq and Afghanistan combined, the private sector has taken over one of the key roles of a state; Providing a safe and secure society, at a reasonable price.
And while all of this is exclusively good, considering the situation, it also goes the other way. The Houthis receive funding from Iran, and there is a constant stream of hired mercenaries from both Iran and Lebanon pouring into the Yemen Conflict in order to fight against the Arab forces. While the mercenaries hired by Iran and the Hezbollah in Lebanon tend to be non-traditional groups per se, that is to say, they don’t officially hire any recognized corporation. The mercenaries hired by the opposition are still Mercenaries.
The forces consist of fighting groups from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Northern Africa with officers from the Hezbollah Militants training and “advising” the Houthi forces. In fact, forces from groups already funded by Iran in Syria and Iraq like Asaeb Ahl al-Haq and Imam Ali Battalions have been observed fighting alongside the Houthi rebels.
And the more money Iran is pouring into mercenaries in Yemen, the Saudi-led coalition is trying to beat them with even going as far as to offer 2.2 Billion for Sudan to join the coalition. And once the money was deposited in the Sudanese Central Bank, 6000 Sudanese troops have been deployed to the Saudi Coalition. And this particular trend is not likely to end any time soon.
In a conflict driven by two major political and economic powers wanting to increase regional influence, it becomes more and more apparent that whichever side has the thickest wallet will be the victor.