Magazine of Socialist Action in Australia

Mercenaries ravage Iraq

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The murder of seventeen Iraqi civilians at the hands of the mercenary company, Blackwater, has exposed once more the role of war profiteers in Iraq. On 16 September Blackwater’s guards opened fire without provocation in Baghdad’s Nisoor Square. Along with the 17 dead, 24 were injured.

A report by the Iraqi government into the events of 16 September has concluded that the United States should stop using Blackwater and ordered their replacement by “a new, more disciplined organisation that would be answerable to Iraqi laws” Even the United Nations have been forced to investigate if the events constituted war crimes. This is in the wake of a congressional report that found that Blackwater intentionally “delayed and impeded” investigations into the deaths of four of their contractors in Fallujah in 2004.

Blackwater is the largest mercenary company in Iraq employing over 1,000 mercenaries. Its contracts went from $200,000 before the war to $200 million during it. Like other companies, such as Halliburton, which are making obscene amounts of profit from the blood of the Iraqi people they have important political and military links. The owner and founder, Erik Prince donated $168,000 to the Republican National Committee in 1998 and used to be an intern for Bush Senior.

Of course the Iraqi government, a puppet state of imperialism offers no real solution. These companies are allowed to operate with immunity from prosecution in Iraqi law, due to laws drawn up by the old Coalition Provisional Authority in 2004. Even worse is the fact that the Iraqi government is asking the insignificant amount of $8 million in compensation.

It is believed that there are over 100,000 mercenaries in Iraq and while Blackwater is the largest it accounts for only a small proportion. What these proposals would really mean is the replacement of Blackwater with other mercenary companies such as US firm DynCorp International. They had an income of £1 billion last year and are famous for having employees implicated in a prostitution ring in Bosnia. Or by the British company Aegis Defence Services, which raised its income from a 2003 turnover of £554,000 to £62 million in 2005, three quarters of which came from work in Iraq. Aegis is also owned by Lieutenant Colonel Tim Spicer who was implicated in the ‘Arms for Africa’ scandal during the Sierra Leone civil war.

Blackwater shows the nature of capitalism today. The rule of profit is put before the lives of people. While these companies are free to murder civilians the Iraqi people are subject to torture as we have seen in Abu Ghraib. While mercenaries and their bosses make a fortune, homes in Baghdad get only eight hours of electricity supply a day and only a third are connected to water mains.

Socialists of course support the kicking out of these ruthless companies paid lucrative awards to kill on demand. However this would not be enough and we demand the removal of all occupying forces from Iraq, the nationalisation of all companies which gained from the blood of the Iraqi people and the building of a socialist alternative in Iraq. Such an alternative would be able to cut across the sectarian forces in the country and build a society where the resources of the country are democratically controlled and benefit the people of Iraq.

By SP reporters


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