Who Feeds Africa’s Dogs of War?

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Who feeds dogs of war?
The Southern Times, September 2004
By Tawanda Kanhema and Max Hamata
photo
Harare- INVESTIGATIONS into the abortive Equatorial Guinea coup d etat have begun to unveil the hand feeding Africa’s “dogs of war”, with recent revelations sucking high profile British figures and global security companies into the controversy.
The plot, which has since emerged to have been conceived by a coterie of global oil magnates, sought to oust President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo overnight and replace him with exiled opposition leader Mr Severo Moto in almost customary coup style.
Most prominent in the plot is businessman and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s son, Mark Thatcher, implicated as “Scratcher” in a letter written by convicted coup leader Simon Mann, who is cooling heels days before a looming sentence in his prison cell in Harare.
The Guardian recently published excerpts from the panic letter, which incriminated Thatcher, his mother’s acquaintance David Hart, and Lord Archer, who is reported to have deposited £74,000 into Mann’s bank account four days before the coup attempt.
The letter infers that Thatcher made a US$200 000 investment in Mann’s Logo Limited company through the South African Tripple A Aviation company.
Thatcher, who was released on R2 million bail, now faces charges of funding the coup plotters under South Africa’s Foreign Military Assistance Act. He’s accused of having given Mann US$275 000 though Air Ambulance Africa.
South African police have since traced banking records indicating that Thatcher, who has had aviation and oil deals with Mann, paid US$100 000 into Logo six days before the coup attempt.
In the letter, Mann refers to characters funding the plot as “investors” and, while lamenting Thatcher and other investor’s indifference to his plight, he appeals to them to “pull their full weight” and ensure his release.
“We need heavy influence of the sort that Smelly, Scratcher, David Hart, and it needs to be used heavily and now,” Mann wrote.
Chelsea-based oil tycoon referred to as ‘Smelly’ in Mann’s letter was recently accused of conspiring with other forces in the coup plot by the Equatorial Guinea government.
Investigations by The Southern Times have established a link between the coup plotters and Manucher Ghorbanifar, a discredited Iranian arms merchant who helped supply the customised Boeing 727-100 used in the plot. Ghobanifar was a middleman in the 1983-88 Iran-Contra scandal.
The plot also involved former members of the apartheid South African counterinsurgency outfit, Kovoet, notorious for its activities in Namibia.
Most African countries have been besieged by dubious organisations masquerading as “security firms” and a good many of them have had a dirty hand in the host countries’ politics.
Private armies in Iraq, where thousands of mercenaries have been hired to protect oil pipelines, have recruited some ex-Kovoet details and Selous Scouts, still sniffing the acrid smell of gunpowder.
The boom in security companies doubling up as mercenaries, triggered by the Iraq war, has worsened the problem of mercenaries, seen as one of Africa’s biggest political challenges.
A controversial commando in Iraq, Aegis Defense Services, headed by Lieutenant Colonel Tim Spicer, who was with Mann in the British elite commando regiment, SAS, won a $293 million contract from the occupational authorities.
Mann, the founder of Executive Outcomes, and his colleague, Spicer formed a partnership which hatched Sandline International, a security firm implicated in war crimes during the civil war in Sierra Leone in the mid 1990s.
Spicer, now in charge of the world’s largest private army, has been accused of illegally smuggling arms and launching military offensives to support mining, oil, and gas operations in the middle east and Africa.
Another figure in the controversy is former Iraqi National Congress (INC) leader, Ahmed Chalabi’s Britishbased front company, Erinys International.
Erinys South Africa has more than 15,000 employees charged with guarding oil pipelines in Iraq. A Lebanese oil magnate Mr El Hage, is also believed to have been involved in funding the coup.
The 70 mercenaries were arrested on March 8, 2004 in Harare after they had landed to refuel and collect a consignment of weapons acquired from the Zimbabwe Defence Industries and intended for use in the Malabo operation.
The consignment included 100 RPG7 antitank projectiles with 10 launchers, 150 hand grenades, 80 60mm mortar bombs, 20 light machine guns, 61 AK47 assault rifles and 75,000 rounds of ammunition.
Only two of the of the 70 mercenaries were acquitted on all charges by a Harare Magistrate last Tuesday, while the spectre of a life sentence hangs over Mann, who has been convicted of contravening Zimbabwe’s Firearms Act by conspiring to purchase dangerous weapons.
Well above 80 coups have rocked Africa since 1963, with countries like the Commoros Islands having suffered as many as 19 coups in 24 years and the “dogs of war” behind the convulsive regime changes have been continue to dictate the course of African politics.
From the time Togo’s President Gnassingbe Eyadema led postindependent Africa’s first coup in 1963, to March’s abortive attempt in the Equatorial Guinea, coups continue to upset efforts to establish stable parliamentary democracies in virtually every part of the continent.
The mercenaries, comprising cliques of self-serving army officers and intensively trained killers feeding off the tables of global magnates, are knitted to mystical covert operations networks.
Mark Thatcher and the other Tories’ involvement in the mercenaries’ latest wet work ungloved the hand covertly feeding the war hounds, which have worried Africa for the past 40 years.
Ironically, global warmongers and oil magnates have been more recurrent in the saga than politicians as private armies, the 21st century mercenaries, usurp the power of state government.
The dawn of post independent Africa saw a decline in mercenary groups across the continent, but the war-hounds seem to have evolved into quasi-diplomatic organisations in the post war era.
However, post-war trauma and military adventurism seem to have compelled some ex-mercenaries to slip back into the war mode and continue to offer military aid in ousting civilian governments.
Historian and prominent antiwar critic, Leo Zeilig, who is currently writing a book on the activities of mercenaries in the Democratic Republic of Congo, observed that they have been a cancer to the continent’s political development.
“The history of foreign mercenaries is rich in the Congo, as the place was overrun by American, Cuban, French and Belgian forces who have turned themselves into private contractors under names like ‘executive outcomes’ etc. They all have the same imperial objectives,” he said.
Post war trauma among exfighters failing to get out of their military fatigues and childsoldiers raised on the battlefield and indoctrinated into war machines by warlords has emerged as the greatest cause for the existence of a ready market for mercenary organisations.
South African Institute of Security Studies head, Jakkie Cilliers, attributed the boom of private security firms, doubling as mercenaries, to state failure and said it is a legacy of countries emerging from armed conflict.
Celliers, who co-authored a paper entitled, Mercenaries and the Privatisation of Security firms in Africa, said the net importer of mercenaries are usually disgruntled forces from the losing side in a previously war torn country.
Private security companies have emerged as a result of the outsourcing of security services, driven by the quest by states to reduce military spending.
However, Angela Mcintyre, a South African-based researcher on security matters said private military companies, if properly regulated and monitored, could be complementary to regional collective security efforts.
Since western countries are unwilling to contribute to peacekeeping missions in Africa, private military companies could fill the gap.
In Angola for instance, private military companies assisted the government and private companies in guarding mining concerns from UNITA rebels.
“Understanding the ramifications of the industry and establishing a regulatory regime to regulate and monitor the transparency of the industry more crucial in solving the problem than lumping all private military companies as mercenaries,” she said.
Kanhema t m 30/08/04 mercenaries
By Tawanda Kanhema
INVESTIGATIONS into the abortive Equatorial Guinea coup d etat have begun to unveil the hand feeding Africa’s “dogs of war”, with recent revelations dragging high profile British figures and global security companies into the controversy.
The plot, which has since emerged to have been conceived by a coterie of global oil magnates, sought to oust President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo overnight and replace him with exiled opposition leader Mr Severo Moto in almost customary coup style.
Most prominent in the plot is businessman and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s son, Mark Thatcher, implicated as “Scratcher” in a letter written by convicted coup leader Simon Mann, who is cooling heels days before a looming sentence in his prison cell in Harare.
The Guardian recently published excerpts from the panic letter, which incriminated Thatcher, his mother’s acquaintance David Hart, and Lord Archer, who is reported to have deposited £74,000 into Mann’s bank account four days before the coup attempt.
The letter infers that Thatcher made a US$200 000 investment in Mann’s Logo Limited company through the South African Tripple A Aviation company.
Thatcher, who was released on R2 million bail, now faces charges of funding the coup plotters under South Africa’s Foreign Military Assistance Act. He’s accused of having given Mann US$275 000 though Air Ambulance Africa.
South African police have since traced banking records indicating that Thatcher, who has had aviation and oil deals with Mann, paid US$100 000 into Logo six days before the coup attempt.
In the letter, Mann refers to characters funding the plot as “investors” and, while lamenting Thatcher and other investor’s indifference to his plight, he appeals to them to “pull their full weight” and ensure his release.
“We need heavy influence of the sort that Smelly, Scratcher, David Hart, and it needs to be used heavily and now,” Mann wrote.
Chelsea-based oil tycoon referred to as ‘Smelly’ in Mann’s letter was recently accused of conspiring with other forces in the coup plot by the Equatorial Guinea government.
Investigations by The Southern Times have established a link between the coup plotters and Manucher Ghorbanifar, a discredited Iranian arms merchant who helped supply the customised Boeing 727-100 used in the plot. Ghobanifar was a middleman in the 198388 Iran-Contra scandal.
The plot also involved former members of the apartheid South African counterinsurgency outfit, Kovoet, notorious for its activities in Namibia.
Most African countries have been besieged by dubious organisations masquerading as “security firms” and a good many of them have had a dirty hand in the host countries’ politics.
Private armies in Iraq, where thousands of mercenaries have been hired to protect oil pipelines, have recruited some ex-Kovoet details and Selous Scouts, still sniffing the acrid smell of gunpowder.
The boom in security companies doubling up as mercenaries, triggered by the Iraq war, has worsened the problem of mercenaries, seen as one of Africa’s biggest political challenges.
A controversial commando in Iraq, Aegis Defense Services, headed by Lieutenant Colonel Tim Spicer, who was with Mann in the British elite commando regiment, SAS, won a $293 million contract from the occupational authorities.
Mann, the founder of Executive Outcomes, and his colleague, Spicer formed a partnership which hatched Sandline International, a security firm implicated in war crimes during the civil war in Sierra Leone in the mid 1990s.
Spicer, now in charge of the world’s largest private army, has been accused of illegally smuggling arms and launching military offensives to support mining, oil, and gas operations in the middle east and Africa.
Another figure in the controversy is former Iraqi National Congress (INC) leader, Ahmed Chalabi’s Britishbased front company, Erinys International.
Erinys South Africa has more than 15,000 employees charged with guarding oil pipelines in Iraq. A Lebanese oil magnate Mr El Hage, is also believed to have been involved in funding the coup.
The 70 mercenaries were arrested on March 8, 2004 in Harare after they had landed to refuel and collect a consignment of weapons acquired from the Zimbabwe Defence Industries and intended for use in the Malabo operation.
The consignment included 100 RPG7 antitank projectiles with 10 launchers, 150 hand grenades, 80 60mm mortar bombs, 20 light machine guns, 61 AK47 assault rifles and 75,000 rounds of ammunition.
Only two of the of the 70 mercenaries were acquitted on all charges by a Harare Magistrate last Tuesday, while the spectre of a life sentence hangs over Mann, who has been convicted of contravening Zimbabwe’s Firearms Act by conspiring to purchase dangerous weapons.
Well above 80 coups have rocked Africa since 1963, with countries like the Commoros Islands having suffered as many as 19 coups in 24 years and the “dogs of war” behind the convulsive regime changes have been continue to dictate the course of African politics.
From the time Togo’s President Gnassingbe Eyadema led postindependent Africa’s first coup in 1963, to March’s abortive attempt in the Equatorial Guinea, coups continue to upset efforts to establish stable parliamentary democracies in virtually every part of the continent.
The mercenaries, comprising cliques of self-serving army officers and intensively trained killers feeding off the tables of global magnates, are knitted to mystical covert operations networks.
Mark Thatcher and the other Tories’ involvement in the mercenaries’ latest wet work ungloved the hand covertly feeding the war hounds, which have worried Africa for the past 40 years.
Ironically, global warmongers and oil magnates have been more recurrent in the saga than politicians as private armies, the 21st century mercenaries, usurp the power of state government.
The dawn of post independent Africa saw a decline in mercenary groups across the continent, but the war-hounds seem to have evolved into quasi-diplomatic organisations in the post war era.
However, post-war trauma and military adventurism seem to have compelled some ex-mercenaries to slip back into the war mode and continue to offer military aid in ousting civilian governments.
Historian and prominent antiwar critic, Leo Zeilig, who is currently writing a book on the activities of mercenaries in the Democratic Republic of Congo, observed that they have been a cancer to the continent’s political development.
“The history of foreign mercenaries is rich in the Congo, as the place was overrun by American, Cuban, French and Belgian forces who have turned themselves into private contractors under names like ‘executive outcomes’ etc. They all have the same imperial objectives,” he said.
Post war trauma among exfighters failing to get out of their military fatigues and childsoldiers raised on the battlefield and indoctrinated into war machines by warlords has emerged as the greatest cause for the existence of a ready market for mercenary organisations.
South African Institute of Security Studies head, Jakkie Cilliers, attributed the boom of private security firms, doubling as mercenaries, to state failure and said it is a legacy of countries emerging from armed conflict.
Celliers, who co-authored a paper entitled, Mercenaries and the Privatisation of Security firms in Africa, said the net importer of mercenaries are usually disgruntled forces from the losing side in a previously war torn country.
Private security companies have emerged as a result of the outsourcing of security services, driven by the quest by states to reduce military spending.
However, Angela Mcintyre, a South African-based researcher on security matters said private military companies, if properly regulated and monitored, could be complementary to regional collective security efforts.
Since western countries are unwilling to contribute to peacekeeping missions in Africa, private military companies could fill the gap.
In Angola for instance, private military companies assisted the government and private companies in guarding mining concerns from UNITA rebels.
“Understanding the ramifications of the industry and establishing a regulatory regime to regulate and monitor the transparency of the industry more crucial in solving the problem than lumping all private military companies as mercenaries,” she said.

@kanhemaphoto