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:
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.