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Iraq signs contracts with US mercenaries to protect trade routes

Image of US and Iraqi soldiers in Al Anbar, Iraq on 20 May 2005 [Michael A. Blaha/Wikipedia ]
US and Iraqi soldiers in Al Anbar, Iraq on 20 May 2005 [Michael A. Blaha/Wikipedia ]

In a further sign of the Iraqi military’s inability to maintain security within the country’s own borders, the Iraqi government has signed a contract with US mercenaries, also known as private military contractors, to secure the main road between Baghdad and the Jordanian capital of Amman.

“The provincial government and the central government have contracted with [private] security police to secure the international road and control it,” said Faleh Al-Issawi, vice-president of the Anbar provincial council.

“The American company will begin its functions on July 15 in accordance with our contract,” he added.

Al-Issawi insisted that the US contractors are only temporary, and that “all foreign forces will withdraw once the contractors complete their job and that Iraqi forces are ready to secure the border.”

The Iraqi government is trying to revive the Trebil border crossing, which was closed after Daesh captured the Anbar province in 2014.

Read: For the US, sending special forces isn’t intervention

The crossing remains dangerous and still subject to Daesh attacks, as well as attacks by other anti-government groups who are unaffiliated with Daesh or Al-Qaeda-linked groups.

According to The New Arab, it was not possible to verify which American companies the Iraqi government had hired, but the US has previously contracted soldiers of fortune from controversial private security firms such as the former Blackwater Security Consulting.

In 2007, Blackwater employees were exposed as being behind the Nisour Square massacre in Baghdad, in which they shot at unarmed Iraqi civilians, killing 17 and injuring 20.

Due to its involvement with such atrocities and the reputational damaged that ensured, Blackwater may have rebranded in order to reduce the negative media attention. It first changed its name to Xe Services in 2009, before changing rebranding again in 2011. The firm is currently known as Academi.

The website of the US embassy in Baghdad lists the names of several private security and military contractors currently active in Iraq, though it does not necessarily state what contracts these firms have been given.

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