This American Is A General For A Foreign Army Accused Of War Crimes In Yemen
Stephen Toumajan spent most of his professional life as an officer in the US Army — but these days the country he serves is not the US but the United Arab Emirates. He is a major general for the Emirati military, according to his own statements and a UAE government website.
He commands the UAE’s military helicopter branch at a time when that country’s forces are fighting one of the world’s deadliest conflicts: the brutal war in Yemen, which has left over a million people with cholera, 8 million people at risk of starvation, and 5,000 children dead or wounded. The UAE and its partners in the war have been accused of atrocities. Toumajan says he is not involved in that war.
To be a UAE general is a step up for Toumajan, who left the US Army as a lieutenant colonel and once had a side gig running a women’s bust–enhancement business in Tennessee called Breast Wishes.
More importantly, it represents a marked escalation of the role US private military contractors play in foreign conflicts. While military contractors have become deeply entwined in warfare all over the world, they traditionally have stuck to strict limits: advising, training, and supplying foreign armies — but not actually serving in them. It’s the distinction between being a contractor and a mercenary. Toumajan’s role blurs that distinction.