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Iraq: Repugnant Black Water

So says Imad Khadduri.

This post marks the beginning of, hopefully, more frequent and shorter posts around specific subjects that affect Iraqi bloggers. My choice of topic today is the banning of the private security firm Blackwater for killing at least eight Iraqi civilians while driving American diplomats through the streets of Baghdad.

Free Iraq provides a the essential background information to the whole debate on private security firms in Iraq. Imad publishes a translation of an eyewitness account, the law that gave such security firms, basically, a license to kill, links to current articles and his previous posts on the behaviour of private security companies. And his opinion on Blackwater? “war profiteering criminals” he says.

Baghdad Treasure was less diplomatic with his choice of words, “You can’t imagine how happy I am to read the mercenary murderers of Blackwater USA are going to be kicked out of the country,” he writes. And he speaks from firsthand experience:

Watching Blackwater’s mercenary actions in Iraq, I grew not only angry but disgusted with their actions that never respect any human being they come across. When they race in the streets of Baghdad, they behave like beasts even in the calmest areas, terrifying people with their SUVs and machine guns and firing without restraint at anyone.

Baghdad Treasure sees companies like Blackwater as part of the problem facing American troops in Iraq because,

Some people there link these criminals to the US army and to the US itself. That’s how sentiments against American troops themselves increased. Of course, I differentiate who’s who, but there are uneducated people who think that these mercenaries are basically the same as any soldier or marine who “came to kill, take oil, and then leave.”

Raed sees signs that the US State Department is trying to find ways to keep Blackwater in Iraq despite clear orders from the Iraqi government to leave. He calls for people to write emails to the the Department of State and to Blackwater's media relations. He writes:

Mercenaries who go around killing civilians without any accountability are being paid with billions of U.S. tax-payer dollars. It is time to get all private contractors out of Iraq, but let's start by bringing Blackwater first.

Zappy reminds us of Blackwater's mission statement which is, I quote:

To support national and international security policies that protect those who are defenseless and provide a free voice for all with a dedication to providing ethical, efficient, and effective turnkey solutions that positively impact the lives of those still caught in desperate times.

He recalls a story of a drunken Blackwater guy who shot an Iraqi security guard for no apparent reason and was only sent back to America without any punishment. He concludes:

Blackwater has done more damage in Iraq than Al Qaeda would ever dream of an American company would do.

Good Job Blackwater! Continue your Vision … your doin’ a hell'ava Job!

From my reading of the news there seems little to explain why the Iraqi government acted only now and so decisively, which is a stark contrast to their usual silence on such matters. I have reported too many times in the past stories from bloggers who have lost or nearly lost relatives to similar incidents involving American soldiers.

As this video from Alive in Baghdad shows, public anger in parts of Baghdad over killings of civilians by American troops have boiled over into large demonstrations without a peep of protest from the Iraqi government:

[display_podcast]

A possible explanation comes from Al-Ghad which reports:

The deal between the Bush-linked “Hunt Oil Company” and the Kurdish Regional Government has uncovered a major crisis between the Maliki Government and the US, according to well-informed sources. …

It … means that the US has decided to by-pass the Iraqi Central Government, ignoring the constitution and even encroaching on disputed major oilfields outside the Kurdish Region. Because of this, the Iraqi Government finds itself forced to take symbolic and unusual measures to express its anger. This seems already reflected in its vocal reaction to the Blackwater massacre in Baghdad, in contrast to the usual official silence with regards the daily attacks and bombing of civilian targets.

Like Greenspan says, maybe, at the end, it is all about oil.

21 comments

  • Please remember the case of Suhad Shakir, although the details show conflicting stories, many suggest that she was killed by contractors, and as they were allegedly American, its certainly possible they were Blackwater operatives as well.

    It is unlikely the full impact of mercenaries in Iraq will ever be known.

  • John

    US is nothing but absolute disaster for all peoples of the world.

  • […] Adil at Global Voices Online posted a roundup of Iraqi blogging on the most recent Blackwater incident. An eye witness account accuses the Blackwater employees of […]

  • Fridolin von Spaun

    it’s how all so-called empires fall.
    first come the delusions, rhetoric, hubris,and
    machismo, then comes unwanted, hard, cold reality.

    hitler blundered at stalingrad, and so does bush
    at baghdad. btw, the austrians at the opec meeting…
    (corrections – ‘australians’ and ‘apec’):

  • Nathan

    Obviously, the intentional killing of innocent civilians by anyone is an intolerable act. However, I have yet to see any proof on this site or in the media at large that condemns or exonerates the employees of Blackwater USA. “Well informed” anonymous sources and “stories” of drunken mercenaries are not evidence of anything, yet we are halfway to taking these men out at dawn and shooting them. Remember, a large portion of the population in that part of the world still believe “the Jews” are responsible for the attacks of September 11, 2001. Let’s wait for some facts.

  • Stephen Voss

    The State Department, which protects Blackwater, might like us to think it’s beyond the reach of the law. Question this thought.

    Paul Bremer’s CPA Order 17 is what’s supposed to grant immunity. It says “Contractors shall not be subject to Iraqi laws or regulations in matters relating to the terms and conditions of their Contracts.” If Blackwater goes beyond its contractual obligations – let’s say by annihilating innocent Iraqis – Order 17 doesn’t apply. That’s why Iraqi courts have begun considering legal action.

    This is made clear by Mark Hemingway of National Review Online. His recent report of his 2006 interview with a Blackwater vice president shows that Blackwater itself understands that it’s not above Iraqi law.

    “A common misconception here is that former Iraqi Ambassador L. Paul Bremer issued regulations effectively making contractors above the law. When I profiled Blackwater last year for The Weekly Standard, Blackwater representatives were emphatic that this was simply not the case.

    “Everybody says that Ambassador Bremer signed a piece of paper that makes contractors immune. They can’t be charged with crimes in Iraq,” Chris Taylor, Blackwater’s then-vice president for strategic initiatives said. “Horse doo-doo. That’s not what Order 17 said. … Order 17 … says that in fulfilling their contracts, PSCs are not subject to Iraqi law. That may sound shocking, but Taylor explained it’s anything but.

    “[Order 17] … said any action that is required to fulfill an authorized and/or legal contract cannot be considered a crime under Iraqi law,” Taylor said. “Okay, rape, murder, smuggling, sex abuse, child molestation, are never actions that are required to fulfill a contract. Therefore they could be tried under Iraqi law, under a military territorial jurisdiction act, under the war crimes act, under the victims of trafficking and violence protection act – I can go on …. It made nobody immune to the law.”

    Blackwater is probably also subject to US law. For one thing, there’s 18 U.S.C. 3261: “Whoever engages in conduct outside the United States that would constitute an offense punishable by imprisonment for more than 1 year if the conduct had been engaged in within … the United States … while employed by or accompanying the Armed Forces outside the United States … shall be punished as provided for that offense.” For another thing there are the Geneva Conventions of 1946, to which the US is a signatory. Under Article 6 of the 4th Geneva Convention, the US is responsible for the safety of civilians under areas of its effective control, regardless of whether that is within US national territory or not.

  • Nathan, a couple of the bloggers I quoted speak from personal experience. To say that Blackwater has done little to endear itself to the Iraqi population is a hideous understatement. This is the point. By going after Blackwater the Iraqi prime minister gained a lot of support within Iraq. And this speaks volumes for the way people in Iraq view Blackwater. No amount of evidence will change this.

    You should also remember people in your part of the world still believe there were WMD in Iraq and that America is bringing democracy to the Arabs. A huge disconnection between image and reality exists on the American side of the ocean as well.

  • Bijan

    I don’t know how many of you have heard about white mercenaries from Mozambique, Congo, South Africa, South America and Yugoslavian or Balkan war, these white trash are the reminisce of those professionals killers and murderous whom were cutting the black people head in Africans in Mozambique, Congo and Indian natives in South America and elsewhere in this world just for fun, these people are mentally and socially sick and that’s why US government needs them to work for state department – administration, no man in his sanity would work for Blackwater or any other “security” company as such, all those security companies are hired by State Department, which means their orders are directed by the Stat Department and its secretaries, here the irony is that Condoleezza Rice the US stat secretary been ordering Blackwater not to answer any questions by the media or the senate, simply state department knows what they been doing, who they are and what their orders are; therefore, by getting involved and answering questions the entire state department going to be at fault with war crime and act against humanity, not that they are not but then is going to be very serious matter where Ms. Rice needs to answer and then resigne as all the others. But for now these people are nothing but bunch of dysfunctional social imbeciles whom as a international criminals hired by the US government to do the pentagon, state department and the white house dirty job as in Abu Gharib and etc.

  • Remember, a large portion of the population in that part of the world still believe “the Jews” are responsible for the attacks of September 11, 2001. Let’s wait for some facts.

    Don’t the majority of your people think that Iraqis were responsible for Sept. 11th?

  • a large portion of the population in that part of the world still believe “the Jews” are responsible for the attacks of September 11, 2001. Let’s wait for some facts.

    Sory Nathan, but the majority of your people believe Iraqis were responsible for Sept 11th, your testimony is invalid.

    Anyways, how long did the ban last, 4 days? I so called it.

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