US national security faces major risks as gangs battle for control over Haiti

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As Haiti continues to struggle with rampant gang violence and with the sudden resignation of its interim Prime Minister, Ariel Henry, this week, experts are warning about the serious consequences a failed Haitian state could have on U.S. national security.

Haiti has been in a near constant state of chaos since the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, which not only brought with it unchecked corruption and poverty but also an increase in violence.

Some 70,000 Haitians flocked to the U.S. border in 2023 as gang violence surged, and American leaders like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis remain concerned there could be another influx of migrants, though experts are warning the threat to U.S. security could reach beyond migration woes. 

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

BILLIONS INVESTED IN HAITI SINCE 2010 EARTHQUAKE HAVE NOT IMPROVED COUNTRY: ‘WE’RE STILL WORKING’

“A failed state controlled by criminals, drug traffickers, mass murderers and gangs so close to U.S. soil is not in the foreign policy interests of the U.S.,” Eddy Acevedo, chief of staff and senior adviser at the Wilson Center think tank told Fox News Digital. 

“[The] greatest threat facing the U.S. regarding Haiti is further instability in the country, which could endanger the lives of millions of Haitians and risk a mass migration.”

While migration remains a top concern for many in the U.S., Juan Cruz, a former National Security Council senior director for Western Hemisphere affairs, told Fox News Digital the consequences of the complete collapse of Haiti cannot be overlooked. 

Haiti-PM-Return

Pedestrians walk past a soldier guarding the area of the international airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, March 4, 2024.  (AP Photo/Odelyn Joseph)

“It’s not in anyone’s interest to have Haiti upside down,” Cruz said. “Do we want a lawless Haiti that makes it a friendly place for drug traffickers to be that much closer to the U.S. or use it as a steppingstone to what we usually call our third border? Or do we want them to create a crisis in the Dominican Republic next door, where we have a friendly government to the U.S.?”

Haitian gangs have not only killed over 3,700 people. They have taken over 80% of the capital city of Port-au-Prince, shut down the airport and released thousands of inmates from two of the nation’s biggest prisons, prompting an international response.  

DHS WARNS HAITIAN ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS ARRIVING BY BOAT FACE ‘IMMEDIATE REPATRIATION’

Haiti Gangs

Violence has erupted in the neighborhood of Solino, near Haiti’s capital, as frantic residents have called in to radio stations to request help. (AP Photo/Odelyn Joseph)

“The utmost priority now must be to address the security situation in Haiti. Without stabilizing Haiti’s security environment, elections and a viable political solution cannot move forward,” Acevedo explained. “Haiti’s National Police are trying to confront and push back the gangs, but the cavalry must arrive soon or else Haiti will fall.” 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday spoke with Kenyan President William Ruto in a move to encourage the African nation to send in the 1,000-strong police force it pledged last year under a Multinational Security Support Mission.

The U.S., the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Canada, France, Brazil and Mexico have also pushed for the establishment of a transitional government to thwart the gang takeover.

Cruz noted it is not only in the interest of Haitians to establish a stable government to quash the violence because it could mean a lengthy stay for any nation that becomes directly involved.

Haiti officers deploy tear gas

Police officers throw tear gas at demonstrators during a protest in Carrefour-Feuilles, a district of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Aug. 14, 2023. (Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images)

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“The problem is those countries, they’ve all been bit,” Cruz said, referring to the U.S., France, Brazil and Canada, 

“Everybody’s been in, and everybody’s paid the price. We’ve all been there. We’ve all seen this movie play out, and it doesn’t end well. I fear that, at some point, we’re going to see boots on the ground that are not Kenyan.”

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