(IP)- One of the most controversial and violent components of the war in Iraq, is going the way of the dinosaur.
The U.S Government contract with Blackwater Worldwide –regarding security services in Iraq– is expired. There are no specific plans to renew. The decision comes from Iraqi government officials, on the heels of a new security agreement that sharply curbs American power in Iraq. The agreement took effect on January 1 2009, after the expiration of the U.N Security Council resolution (in 2008).
When asked about the details of the contract and its expiration, State Department spokesman Robert Wood was vague.
“We’re in touch with the Iraqis to try and work out… the modalities of this. But you know, as we noted, we informed Blackwater… that we did not plan to renew the company’s existing task force orders for protective security details in Iraq.”
Iraqi officials were more to the point. “The contract is finished and will not be renewed by order of the Minister of the Interior”, says an interior ministry spokesman.
Blackwater’s history in Iraq is permeated with violent confrontations and loss of civilian life. Between 2005 and 2007, Blackwater security staff was involved in 195 known shooting incidents. In 163 of those cases, Blackwater personnel fired first; 25 staff members have been fired for violations of Blackwater’s drug and alcohol policy, and 28 more for weapons-related incidents.
The company’s most noted offenses include an incident in 2007, when Blackwater employees shot and killed 17 Iraqis. According to an FBI report, 14 of the victims were killed without cause. Adding insult to injury, the Pentagon issued a statement that same year, declaring that Blackwater contractors in Iraq are not subject to civilian criminal laws.
In November 2008, The State Department prepared to issue a multimillion-dollar fine to Blackwater Worldwide, for shipping hundreds of automatic firearms to Iraq without the necessary permits. Some of the weapons were believed to have ended up on the country’s black market.
In the fallout, Blackwater recently changed its name to Xe, and founder Erik Prince dropped out of day to day operations to sit as chairman of the company.
Despite Xe/Blackwater’s contract expiration, there are no plans to completely do away with private military contracts. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confirmed this fact during a recent interview. “How we provide security and safety for those performing civilian functions is a very difficult question”, Clinton says. “I certainly am of the mind that we should, insofar as possible, diminish our reliance on private security contractors. Whether we can go all the way to banning, under current circumstances, seems unlikely, but we ought to be engaged in a very careful review of where they should and shouldn’t be used, and under what circumstances. And that’s what we’re doing right now.”
The Washington Independent questioned whether private contractors DynCorp and Triple Canopy would want Iraqi contracts now that the Iraqi government put a provision in the Status of Forces Agreement stipulating that all contractors fall under its legal jurisdiction.
By Asma Abdul Adl
Islamic Post Staff Writer
Iraq recently held its provincial elections; to some, it offers a spark of hope. With over 6,000 polling stations, 14,000 candidates competed for 440 seats in 14 of Iraq’s 18 provinces. The seats are for provincial councils that control municipal budgets and determine employment rates. The 2009 elections were the greatest electoral exercise to commence since violence escalated under the occupation. In some provinces the turnout was unusually high compared to the previous last elections in 2005 when voting was boycotted by some; others felt that the insurgency inhibited them from placing their votes.
Election Day participation definitely fluctuated from the past. The turnout in some provinces was around 60 percent. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki’s Dawa Party emerged on top in at least two of Iraq’s largest cities: Baghdad and Basra.
The Shiite party Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) suffered heavy losses in provinces they previously dominated. The former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, who was not very popular in 2005, seems to have done well in both Sunni and Shiite provinces in all areas of the country. In the Anbar province, most seem to have voted for the Awakening Movement.
The elections themselves marked a definite change in Iraqi politics. Most feel this is the beginning of a new day for Iraq as a whole. Not long after the elections, US President Barack Obama announced all troops would be recalled from Iraq by the end of August 2010
Filed under: International, Sept/Oct Volume - 2008, World | Tags: Georgia, Iraq, Kosovo, Russia
Russia Compares Georgia to Iraq
Recently the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) denounced Russia’s recognition of the Georgian breakaway territories, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, saying the move “violates the many UN Security Council resolutions it has endorsed regarding Georgia’s territorial integrity.”
Pravda, a Russian news outlet, quoted the chairman of the State Duma Committee for Security, Vladimir Vasilyev, as saying the conflict in South Ossetia is “very reminiscent” to the wars in Iraq and Kosovo. Iraq was occupied and granted “independence” with U.N. sanction. Kosovo has also been recognized as independent from Serbia.
“The things that were happening in Kosovo, the things that were happening in Iraq – we are now following the same path,” said Chairman Vasilyev. “The further the situation unfolds, the more the world will understand that Georgia would never have been able to do all this without America.”
Itar-Tass reported last month Israeli defense officials have called for curtailing all military contacts and contracted sales with Georgia.
“South Ossetian defense officials used to make statements about imminent aggression from Georgia, but the latter denied everything, whereas the US Department of State released no comments on the matter. In essence, they have prepared the force, which destroyed everything in South Ossetia, attacked civilians and hospitals. They are responsible for this. The world community will learn about it,” the statement concluded.
The Intelligence Daily’s J. Victor Marshal has more detailed information on the topic in his article, Russia, Georgia and the Kosovo Connection
Filed under: International, July Volume II - 2008, World | Tags: Afghanistan, Bagram, Guantanamo, Iraq, Mosul
By Muhammad Ahmad, Islamic Post Staff Writer
It has recently been revealed that a woman known only as Prisoner 650 is being held at the Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan. While the identity of the woman is unknown, CagePrisoners.com and also Tehrik-e-Insaf say the woman could be Dr. Aafia Siddiqui who was picked up at an airport in 2003.
Former prisoners at Bagram, have attested to hearing the wrenching screams of a woman. Moazzam Begg, who was released without charges in January of 2005, said the woman he heard was next door to him.
Another man reported to have seen her.
Pakistani politician Imran Khan pledged his full support behind the Cageprisoners’ campaign to release Prisoner 650.
Begg, now back with his family, wife and children in Birmingham, revealed in his book Enemy Combatant: The Terrifying True Story of a British Muslim (Link gives Moazzam Begg’s story) in Guantanamo, how the male prisoners in Bagram had gone on a hunger strike for six days in an effort to improve the conditions of the unidentified woman, whom they claim was treated to the same regiment of brutality and torture as themselves.
The family of Dr. Siddiqui fears the worst. It has been almost 5 years and the only word they received was a few days after the abduction when a helmeted motorcyclist appeared at their door saying Dr. Siddiqui had been detained and not to speak of the incident.
While Siddiqui could be dead, the family dreads more that she is holed up in Bagram at the mercy of unnamed global terrorists who are working through the medium of secret intelligence agencies.
Siddiqui’s three children, who were traveling with her, are also missing. Of them, there has been no word at all.
Siddiqui is not the only woman, and her children are not the only children, who has disappeared since 2001 with the onset of the war of terror.
In July of 2006, Al Moharer and Uruknet listed these names as being held in Mosul, Iraq: Khadija Ahmad Abdi, 34, detained on May 24, 2005; Raghad Mohammed Ahmad, 17, detained on June 11, 2005; Fatima Dhahir Ibrahim, 53, detained June 6, 2005; Khatar Hassan Mahmmud, 32, detained June 11, 2005; Bushra Mohammed Ahmad, 21, detained on the same date; Mahasin Mohammad Ahmad, 23, also detained on the same date in June; Azhar Abdulrahman Ali, 25, detained with her brothers when their home was raided on July 12, 2005; and Hamda Mahmmud, who was detained on June 2, 2005.
Katherine Ozment of the Boston Magazine, in her investigative report, “Who’s Afraid of Aafia Siddiqui?,” drew a fair outline of the doctor. She asserts that Dr. Siddiqui, a neurobiologist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), made the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) terrorist list in 2004, a list that civil liberties groups say has reached a landmark of one million records, or 400,000 people. While U.S. President George W. Bush is most recently engaged in efforts to corroborate all U.S. information databases for use against those on the terrorist list (mostly non-U.S. residents), the family attorney for Aafia Siddiqui told the Boston Magazine that the information contained in Siddiqui’s file in particular must have been inaccurate. She believes that it has been a case of stolen identity for the 36 year old woman, as all of her previous colleagues who were interviewed, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, sang Siddiqui’s praises.
Dr. Siddiqui was heavily involved in community outreach programs, and spent a good deal of her off time preaching, according to Ozment.
But the official record says something quite different. FBI documents allege that in the summer before September 11, 2001, Siddiqui was wheeling and dealing for al Qaeda in Libya.
Family attorney, Elaine Whitfield Sharp says that instead of “brokering diamond deals for Al Qaeda with murderous brutes from the killing fields of Africa,” Siddiqui was “hosting play groups [for neighborhood kids] in her apartment.”
“Aafia Siddiqui was here in June 2001, and I can prove it,” Sharp said.
But with no trial, jury, or courtroom, who will Sharp prove it to?