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US Airlifts Embassy Staff in Haiti

Roving gangs in Port Au Prince put America’s embassy in danger.

As roving gangs of convicts and criminals fill the streets of Haiti. the US military conducted an overnight mission to evacuate embassy staff in Port Au Prince. “This airlift of personnel into and out of the embassy is consistent with our standard practice for embassy security augmentation worldwide, and no Haitians were on board the military aircraft,” the US military’s Southern Command said in a statement. Notably, the statement made clear that no Haitians were on the helicopters, meaning the Caribbean nation’s leadership is – for now – remaining in place.

The Path to Disaster

The Biden administration’s failed border policies have resulted in thousands of Haitians flooding the US southern border to escape the violence spreading across their island nation. Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere and has had a reputation for violence and unrest among its citizens.

“Guards from the National Palace accompanied by an armored truck tried to set up a security perimeter around one of the three downtown stations after police fought off an attack by gangs late Friday [March 9]…” according to an Associated Press report. “The unrelenting gang attacks have paralyzed the country for more than a week and left it with dwindling supplies of basic goods…The problem for police in securing government buildings is that many Haitians have streamed into them, seeking refuge.”

The marauding groups of rioters are comprised of thousands of violent convicts, including murderers, kidnappers, and other vicious criminals released when other gang members overran the prisons. Street violence has been marked by gun battles between the gangs and police. A 72-hour state of emergency was put in place Sunday, March 3. “The emergency decree was issued after a deadly weekend that marked a new low in Haiti’s downward spiral of violence. At least nine people had been killed since Thursday — four of them police officers — as gangs stepped up coordinated attacks on state institutions in Port-au-Prince…,” Fox News reported.

Fearing an increase in violence and potential attacks on the embassy in the Haitian capital, the State Department has issued warnings to American citizens in Haiti to leave. Following the jailbreak, Haiti is no longer safe. During a press briefing on March 6. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters, “As the situation on the ground grows increasingly dire, we and CARICOM [Caribbean Community] have continued to call on stakeholders, including the prime minister, to make concessions in the interest of the Haitian people.”

The Political Crisis in Port Au Prince

In a State Department readout of a phone call between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Haitian Prime Minister Dr. Ariel Henry on March 7, Blinken made the point, “In the past week, the political crisis in Haiti, combined with escalating violence and civil unrest, has created an untenable situation which threatens the country’s citizens and security.” Blinken encouraged Henry to support the idea of a Multinational Security Support initiative. The Haitian prime minister’s support for a UN-like security force may be a moot point as rioting, looting, and burning rage unabated. The situation has now reached a boiling point. Politico reports:

“[T]he Biden administration has been considering contingency plans for months, according to a U.S. official, who was granted anonymity to discuss a sensitive situation. The U.S. has decided not to send U.S. military forces to intervene in the situation, and instead ‘enable and encourage our international partners to resolve it themselves,’ the official said.

“However, there has been concern in recent days that ‘the timeline has moved up’ because of the ‘reality on the ground,’ the official said.”

Any action the US takes could include sending in an elite Marine Corps fleet antiterrorism security team (FAST) to Haiti to secure the US Embassy and facilities. Whether a FAST unit will be the designated Marine contingent is not known. Haiti falls within the US Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) area of responsibility, and the Marine Corps component is US Marine Corps Forces South. A FAST platoon generally consists of an officer and 47 riflemen, all highly trained in countering terrorist activities, mainly as those skills apply to reinforcing security at embassies. USSOUTHCOM is headquartered in Miami, Florida.

On Friday, March 8, Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Major General Patrick Ryder responded to a question about the timing for sending additional Marines to Haiti. “[W]e’re exploring contingency options to ensure the security of our personnel at the embassy. No decisions have been made at this time about potential deployments,” Patrick told the reporters. “What I can tell you is that DOD will not send troops to Haiti to support Haitian national Police security operations.”

The Pentagon seemed resolute in not wanting to be part of Haiti’s internal security problems since the US does not want to be seen favoring one Haitian leader over another. Nonetheless, violence like that taking place in the last week in Haiti can very quickly place US citizens living there in serious jeopardy. Planning for a non-combatant evacuation operation would seem prudent. What the US can expect is a larger influx of illegal aliens from Haiti, regardless of the outcome of the current conflict.

The views expressed are those of the author and not of any other affiliation.

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