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)

FILED UNDER: Guns and Gun Control, Iraq War, Middle East, , , , , , ,
Alex Knapp
About Alex Knapp
Alex Knapp is Associate Editor at Forbes for science and games. He was a longtime blogger elsewhere before joining the OTB team in June 2005 and contributed some 700 posts through January 2013. Follow him on Twitter @TheAlexKnapp.


  1. Mike says:

    the inept Iraqis raiding the offices of a bunch of retired/former Seals, Delta Force, Rangers etc… – that’s gonna hurt – would not want to be an Iraqi soldier on that mission.

  2. Bob says:

    These raids will lead to a few bloody events (Iraqi Security forces in gunbatles with private security firms) that will become media circuses. On one hand it represents progress as Iraqis are reclaiming their independence & demonstrating increased capability. On the other hand, some missteps and overreaches are inevitable. This will be a jerky dance as US passes the Iraqis the lead and draws down.

  3. Scott_T says:

    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.

    OK Alex, I’ll call you on that.

    How is armed security guards that guard diplomats or static locations making instability in Iraq?

    Sure diplomatic/PRT/State Dept convoys get attacked by insurgents/AlQ/JAM, they respond and shoot things up.

    Yes property gets damaged and, unfortunately, civilians might get killed. Blackwater and others don’t go hunting down AlQ/JAM/etc in the dead of night or seek engagement, that’s the US Armed Force’s job (Army/Marines/Special Forces/etc).

    How is that American fault that these convoys get attacked? These diplomats/PRT/State groups aren’t their to take sides, but to help rebuild Iraq.

    Do you really think that the Iraqis don’t want American help in rebuilding schools, utilities, get a functioning government, or negotiating between Iraqi clans?

    Who do you think benefits if American (or foreign) diplomats are killed or driven out? Al Qaeda/JAM/Militias that’s who.

  4. Alex Knapp says:

    How is armed security guards that guard diplomats or static locations making instability in Iraq?

    Because the perception in the eyes of the Iraqi public is that these security agents have been complicit in the murder of innocent civilians for which they have not been held accountable.

  5. davod says:

    This will result in a couple of slaughters of groups of security guards before the Iraqis get told to piss off and come back when they can vouch for the integrity of their people.

  6. davod says:

    I should also say (why not) that this issue is more about the lack of success of rabags efforts to kill and or kidnap people being protected than any real concern about civilian casualties.

    Ratbags who, despite efforts to clean out the ratbag lovers in the Iraqi government, have enablers in the Iraqi government.