Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Iraqi government to review status of all private security firms in Iraq

(BBC) - Iraq has said it will review the status of all private security firms operating in the country after a gunfight in Baghdad left eight civilians dead. The Iraqi government said it wanted to determine whether such contractors were operating in compliance with Iraqi law. The review comes a day after the Iraqi authorities ordered the US-based firm, Blackwater USA, to suspend all operations and leave Iraq immediately.
Blackwater has said its guards acted in self-defence in Sunday's incident. But the Iraqi interior ministry has claimed the men fired "randomly at citizens" in a crowded square in the capital, killing innocent bystanders and a policeman. The Blackwater guards were protecting a convoy carrying officials from the US State Department at the time.
Earlier, the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, telephoned Prime Minister Nouri Maliki to express her regret over the deaths and pledge to help carry out a "fair and transparent" investigation into the incident.
Founded in 1997 by three former US Navy SEALs
Headquarters in North Carolina
One of at least 28 Private Security Companies in Iraq
Employs 744 US citizens, 231 third-country nationals, and 12 Iraqis to protect US state department in Iraq (May 2007)
Provided protection for former CPA head Paul Bremer
Four employees killed by mob in Falluja in March 2004
Personnel have no combat immunity under international law if they engage in hostilities
A spokesman for the US State Department told the AFP news agency that during her phone call to Mr Maliki, Ms Rice had "reiterated that the United States does everything it can to avoid such loss of life in contrast to the enemies of the Iraqi people who deliberately target civilians". The two agreed to hold any wrongdoers accountable, according to Mr Maliki's spokesman.
Thousands of often heavily armed private security guards are employed in Iraq. Although they have no combat immunity under international law if they engage in hostilities, many critics say they are accountable only to their employers. Blackwater is one of the biggest private security contractors in Iraq and is reported to have a contract worth $300m (£150m) with the State Department to protect its diplomatic staff and equipment there. The BBC's Justin Webb in Washington says Blackwater's suspension could be a potentially serious blow to the department's work in Iraq.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?