Iraqi Government Will Begin Raids on Security Firms
In what is presumably a backlash against largely unaccountable actions by Blackwater and others, the Iraqi Interior Ministry has authorized raids against Western private security firms.
The Iraqi interior minister said Wednesday that he would authorize raids by his security forces on Western security firms to ensure that they were complying with tightened licensing requirements on guns and other weaponry, setting up the possibility of violent confrontations between the Iraqis and heavily armed Western guards.
The tightening of the requirements followed a shooting in September by one of those firms, Blackwater, that Iraqi authorities said left 17 Iraqis dead.
“Every company will be subject to such examination, and any company that does not follow the law will lose its license,” the minister, Jawad al-Bolani, said of the planned raids. “They are called security companies. They are not called violate-the-law companies.”
Within Baghdad’s relatively safe and heavily guarded Green Zone, there have been early indications of a battle over who controls Iraqi streets. Private security guards say that Iraqi police officers have already descended on Western compounds and stopped vehicles driven by Westerners to check for weapons violations in recent weeks.
Any extension of those measures into the rest of the country, known as the Red Zone, could quickly turn into armed confrontation. Westerners are wary of Interior Ministry checkpoints, some of which have been fake, as well as of ministry units, which are sometimes militia-controlled and have been implicated in sectarian killings. Western convoys routinely have to choose between the risk of stopping and the risk of accelerating past what appear to be official Iraqi forces.
And because Western convoys run by private security companies are often protecting senior American civilian and military officials, the Iraqi government’s struggle with the companies has in some cases become a sort of proxy tug-of-war with the United States.
This is a completely understandable move by the Iraqi government, especially given the by and large reluctance of the Bush Administration to rein in Blackwater and other security groups.
This is just one little thing that illustrates that even if we completely annihilate al-Qaeda from Iraq, that won’t really solve a thing. The insurgency has always been more than just al-Qaeda, and it’s fed by resentment over the very presence of American soldiers in Iraq. That a large number of security operations have been turned over to largely unaccountable security firms such as Blackwater has only fed that resentment. The United States can’t “stablize” Iraq, no matter how many surges we might throw at it, because it’s our very presence that is leading to a large amount of that instability.
(link via Danger Room)