Today it was announced that the Iraqi Interior Ministry will deny a renewal of the operating license required for Blackwater to continue protecting State Department personnel in the country.
MOSUL, Iraq Jan. 28 -- The Iraqi government has informed the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad that it will not issue a new operating license to Blackwater Worldwide, the embassy's primary security company, which has come under scrutiny for allegedly using excessive force while protecting American diplomats, Iraqi and U.S. officials said Wednesday.
This is not unexpected, but it will require some scrambling to ensure that full coverage of State Dept. employees continues. Blackwater is one of three companies that work under the World Personal Protective Services (WPPS) contract to safeguard State Dept. personnel in Iraq, but also in high threat areas worldwide, the others are Dyncorp and Triple Canopy. One of these will likely pick up the responsibility for State personnel in the Baghdad and surrounding areas. Both other firms provide services in Iraq, but not in theo most dangerous areas and consequently do not have the numbers of highly-trained personal security specialists that Blackwater does. They will need to recruit to be able to fulfill the mission currently performed by Blackwater, who has not had a single person under their protection killed.
I received the following statement from Blackwater spokesperson Anne Tyrrell:
Blackwater followed the proper procedures to apply for and secure operating licenses in Iraq. We have received no official communications from the government of Iraq or our customer on the status of those applications or the future of our work in Iraq. Blackwater has always said that we will continue the important work of protecting U.S. government officials in Iraq for as long as our customer asks us to do so, and in accordance with Iraqi law; that has not changed.
You can read my reporting on the Nisour Square shooting incident that precipitated this action by the Iraqis here. Bottom line, there was incoming fire to the convoy there and the Iraqis and our government are covering that up.