Saturday, January 31, 2009

Change In Which I Can Believe - Iraqi Style

In truth, real change would be getting the hell out of Iraq completely, not just pulling the worst of the private mercenaries because the Iraqis ordered them out of their country.

But I'll take it.


U.S. Scraps Blackwater's Iraq Deal

The State Department will not renew Blackwater Worldwide's contract to protect American diplomats in Iraq when it expires in May, a senior US official has said.

The official said the private security firm's contract will expire because of the Iraqi government's decision to deny Blackwater a licence to operate.

The Iraqis informed the US last week of the cancellation, which was made amid lingering outrage over a September 2007 shooting in Baghdad's Nisoor Square which left 17 Iraqi civilians dead.

The official - who spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision has yet to be formally announced - said that renewing the contract was "basically a moot point because they were not going to be allowed to operate in Iraq anyway".

The State Department said it was still considering options on how to protect US diplomats in the wake of Iraq's denial of Blackwater's operating licence.

One possibility would be to replace Blackwater with one or a combination of guards from DynCorp and Triple Canopy, two other US-based security contractors working for the State Department in Iraq. Both have licences to operate in Iraq.

Blackwater spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell declined to comment on the status of the contract, but confirmed executives were due to meet State Department officials "to discuss the situation".

She stressed the firm had always known its services in Iraq would be temporary.

Blackwater executives claim the company could leave Iraq within 72 hours of being told to do so, but warn such a move would cause more harm to the diplomats it protects than the firm itself.

Blackwater founder Erik Prince said he had not received any indication that the company would be ordered to evacuate in light of the licence denial.

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