Pentagon Still Open to US Troops in Haiti

by | Mar 20, 2024

Pentagon Still Open to US Troops in Haiti

by | Mar 20, 2024

Haiti Unrest

FILE PHOTO: A mans walks past a burning barricade during a protest against Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, October 10, 2022.(Credit: AFP / Richard Pierrin)

A senior US military official said the Pentagon has not yet ruled out an American deployment to Haiti, which has seen a spike in violent unrest that prompted the resignation of the country’s prime minister last week. 

Speaking during an event hosted by the Atlantic Council on Tuesday, US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) head General Laura Richardson was asked whether she envisions “boots on the ground” in the Caribbean nation.

“Not right now,” she said, before adding “They could be at the end of the day. We wouldn’t discount that at any time.” 

Without elaborating, Richardson also went on to suggest that Haitian refugees fleeing violence could be housed at the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay – the notorious torture prision which has held hundreds of foreign terrorism suspects without charges for years on end.

Haiti has been gripped by a long bout of chaos since the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise, who was replaced by Prime Minister Ariel Henry – then the West’s favored successor. Also assuming the powers of the presidency, Henry took office in lieu of a popular vote, repeatedly postponing elections even after lawmakers’ terms expired last year and left the legislature crippled.

However, with Henry failing to rein in gangs and armed groups running rampant across Port-au-Prince – some even seizing control of ports and other key infrastructure – the PM gradually lost his international backing, agreeing to resign last week under pressure from Washington and other regional states. 

The premier will be replaced by a nine-member transition council intended to pave the way to future elections – at a yet-unspecified date – and create an “action plan for near-term security,” according to Guyanese President Irfaan Ali, who helped to broker Henry’s resignation.

After repeated appeals to the United Nations for an international security force to help quell the violence, Henry finally struck a deal earlier this month for a Kenyan-led mission backed by other nations and largely financed by the United States. It is that initiative which Richardson suggested US troops could ultimately join.

With Henry stepping down, however, Nairobi has signaled that the multi-national security mission would be delayed until the new council is established, leaving it unclear when – or whether – the plan will come to fruition.

“The deal they signed… still stands, although the deployment will not happen now because definitely we will require a sitting government to also collaborate with,” Kenyan Foreign Ministry spokesman Salim Swaleh told the New York Times last week. “You don’t just deploy police to go on the Port-au-Prince streets without a sitting administration.”

With a lengthy and often violent history of outside intervention in the country, some Haitians have objected to any foreign troop presence, fearing it may do more harm than good given disastrous experiences with UN-led missions in the past. 

“The Haitian people have kept the bitter taste of a foreign force in charge of our situation: theft, rape, cholera, food dependence, deregulation of the economic system, without mentioning the fact that we don’t remember seeing then-gang leaders be arrested or rendered unable to do harm,” Haitian think tank Groupe de Travail sur la Securite (Security Working Group) said in a statement in 2022, soon after Henry’s first appeal for an international deployment.

About Will Porter

Will Porter is assistant news editor at the Libertarian Institute and a regular contributor at Antiwar.com. Find more of his work at Consortium News, ZeroHedge and RT.

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