Hundreds of mercenaries from Colombia are traveling halfway around the world to fight in Yemen's raging civil war, lured by high salaries bankrolled by the United Arab Emirates, The New York Times reports. While the Colombian soldiers are officially a state secret in the UAE, they number among many Latin Americans making the trek to the Middle East to serve as mercenaries.
It's hardly just the war in Yemen, in which Saudi Arabia and the U.S., among other nations, are backing a campaign against Houthi rebels. Here's the Times on this "glimpse into the future of war."
Wealthy Arab nations, particularly Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the Emirates, have in recent years embraced a more aggressive military strategy throughout the Middle East, trying to rein in the chaos unleashed by the Arab revolutions that began in late 2010. But these countries wade into the new conflicts — whether in Yemen, Syria, or Libya — with militaries that are unused to sustained warfare and populations with generally little interest in military service.
"Mercenaries are an attractive option for rich countries who wish to wage war yet whose citizens may not want to fight," said Sean McFate, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and author of The Modern Mercenary.
"The private military industry is global now," said Mr. McFate, adding that the United States essentially "legitimized" the industry with its heavy reliance on contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan over more than a decade of war. "Latin American mercenaries are a sign of what's to come," he said. [The New York Times]