US Sends Anti-Terrorism Troops To Haiti As Nation Spirals Into Chaos Under Gang Rule

(Photo by Clarens SIFFROY / AFP)

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Jake Smith Contributor
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The U.S. is sending anti-terrorism forces to Haiti as the nation continues to delve into violence and chaos.

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry agreed to resign on Tuesday after months of gang violence that has crippled Port-au-Prince’s key infrastructure and economic stability, stirred political uncertainty and wreaked havoc on civilian life, according to Reuters. The U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) said on Wednesday it deployed the Marine Fleet-Anti-terrorism Security Team (FAST) to Haiti to protect the American embassy in the region amid the conflict. (RELATED: At Least 12 Dead After Gangs Storm Haiti’s Main Prison, Hundreds Of Inmates Escape)

Motorists pass by a burning barricade during a protest as the government said it would extend a state of emergency for another month after an escalation in violence from gangs seeking to oust the Prime Minister Ariel Henry, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, March 7, 2024. REUTERS/Ralph Tedy Erol

“At the request of the Department of State, (SOUTHCOM) deployed a U.S. Marine Fleet-Anti-terrorism Security Team (FAST) to maintain strong security capabilities at the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and conduct relief in place for our current Marines, a common and routine practice worldwide,” the command said in a statement on Wednesday. “The U.S. Embassy remains open, and limited operations continue, focused on assistance to US citizens and supporting Haitian-led efforts to secure a peaceful transition of power.”

“(SOUTHCOM) is prepared with a wide range of contingency plans to ensure the safety and security of U.S. Citizens in Haiti,” a command spokesperson said on Wednesday.

U.S. forces first flew into Haiti on Wednesday to airlift non-essential personnel out of the region. The Department of Defense (DOD) is also doubling funding for the Multinational Security Support (MSS), according to SOUTHCOM.

Kenyan officials planned to deploy United Nations (UN)-backed multi-national police forces to Haiti to aid the security operation, but this was delayed on Tuesday after Kenya’s top court ruled it was unconstitutional, according to The Associated Press.

(Photo by Clarens SIFFROY / AFP)

Men on motorcycles drive past by burning tires during a demonstration following the resignation of its Prime Minister Ariel Henry, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on March 12, 2024. (Photo by Clarens SIFFROY / AFP)

Haiti — specifically Port-au-Prince — has been in a state of disarray for months, with conflicts escalating as of late February, according to the AP. Gangs are usurping order in Port-au-Prince, seizing control of the capital city’s main port, forcing international airports to shut down, breaking prisons open, setting fire to police stations and storming the national palace.

Gangs now control roughly 80% of Port-au-Prince and scores of civilians have been killed, according to BBC and AP.

In a meeting with regional bloc leaders on Tuesday, Ariel said he would step down from the prime minister role — a demand of the gangs — once a transitional government is established, according to Reuters.

But it may not be enough to quell the violence.

“We won’t lie to people, saying we have a peaceful revolution,” Barbecue, a gang leader, said on Tuesday, according to NBC News. “We do not have a peaceful revolution. We are starting a bloody revolution in the country.”

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