AMU Intelligence North America Original

The Fall of Haiti, Gang Activity and an Unstable Government

Last week, Acting Prime Minister Ariel Henry announced that he would resign once a transitional presidential council is created in Haiti, according to CNN. Henry assumed the role of Prime Minister by appointment following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse and the death of the head of Haiti’s Supreme Court René Sylvestre.

Henry’s appointment came with the backing of the international community and so is his pending resignation. Other Caribbean governments, under the auspices of CARICOM, look to stabilize the Haitian government.

It may be too late, however. Haiti has not had a functioning government since the assassination of Moïse, and this dysfunction has allowed the many gangs that call Haiti home to seize approximately 80% of the nation.

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What Have Gangs Done in Haiti?

Within Haiti, gangs have targeted government infrastructure and police and engineered a mass jail break. The violence has killed numerous Haitians. What’s worse is that food insecurity has led to widespread malnutrition among Haiti’s citizens, and new deliveries of humanitarian aid are unable to get into the country.

Notorious gang leader Jimmy Chérizier recently told the press that he rejects any international- led solution and stated that it’s up to the Haitians to solve their nation’s issues. While that goal may be laudable, the gangs are not united in their view on a future Haitian government. Chérizier’s statement suggests that any future government, whether or not it includes gang buy-in, will suffer from violence as gang factions fight for power.

While the gang-led violence continues, there are two newsworthy events worth monitoring – the newly approved government transitional council and an international security mission deployment. CARICOM representatives crafted a transitional council in Jamaica with 40 Haitian stakeholders. This council will include representatives from Haiti’s political and business sectors, a religious leader, and civil society representatives.

Although the council has been approved, the segments have not yet chosen their representatives, but that should happen shortly. Once the council is in place, it will appoint a new interim Prime Minister and establish an election council to elect a proper government in Haiti.

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A Transitional Council Would Open the Door to International Peacekeeping Forces

The election of a new government will be difficult in Haiti’s fluid security environment, but with a transitional council in place, the deployment of an international security mission can proceed. Kenya offered to send 1,000 police officers to Haiti, but politics in Kenya caused a short delay in the deployment according to AP News.

Once Kenya’s legal issue was resolved, the deterioration of the security environment in Haiti acted as another barrier. Kenya now states that they will send their peacekeepers once the council is in place.

An additional 1,000 police officers can help alleviate the shortage of national police officers in Haiti. But for an international force to have an impact on Haitian national security, the international community would need to send thousands of police officers.

In addition, the peacekeepers would need to supply some of their force to ensure that foreign aid can make it into the country without being seized by rival gangs. There’s also the matter of restoring potable water and sanitation to stave off any potential disease outbreaks.

In essence, creating the transitional council and having a more effective peacekeeping force in the future are good steps toward returning a functional government to Haiti. Unfortunately, the issues of insufficient food and water are matters that need to be sorted rapidly, and it’s difficult – if not impossible – to do that in a poor security environment.

Things need to move quickly from here. Otherwise, Haiti will continue to fall further into chaos.

William Tucker serves as a senior security representative to a major government contractor where he acts as the Counterintelligence Officer, advises on counterterrorism issues, and prepares personnel for overseas travel. His additional duties include advising his superiors in matters concerning emergency management and business continuity planning.

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