Sunday, May 27, 2007

Blackwater causing tension in Iraq

They've been in Iraq for awhile now -- 20,000-30,000 mercenaries, or "military contractors" -- Blackwater is the most well-known. Mercenaries fight what amounts to a "shadow war", where they don't follow the same rules of engagement as the conventional military. As if things weren't already sufficiently fucked up in Iraq, add "soldiers of fortune" to the mix, lose 4 of them in the famous Fallujah incident to stoke up the revenge factor (plus more in regular warfare), and not surprisingly there are problems:

"Employees of Blackwater USA, a private security firm under contract to the State Department, opened fire on the streets of Baghdad twice in two days last week, and one of the incidents provoked a standoff between the security contractors and Iraqi forces, U.S. and Iraqi officials said.

A Blackwater guard shot and killed an Iraqi driver Thursday near the Interior Ministry, according to three U.S. officials and one Iraqi official who were briefed on the incident but spoke on condition of anonymity because of a pending investigation. On Wednesday, a Blackwater-protected convoy was ambushed in downtown Baghdad, triggering a furious battle in which the security contractors, U.S. and Iraqi troops and AH-64 Apache attack helicopters were firing in a congested area." (...)

"Matthew Degn, a senior American civilian adviser to the Interior Ministry's intelligence directorate, described the ministry as "a powder keg" after the Iraqi driver was shot Thursday, with anger at Blackwater spilling over to other Americans working in the building."

That sounds like a good situation: people who are supposed to be onside are starting to hate each other's guts, thanks to Blackwater. By outsourcing the war, the US is losing ground with those who are in the best position to help resolve the war, the Iraqis themselves. What next? For people who say they want to win in Iraq, they sure seem to be going out of their way to make that an impossibility.