British private venture in Iraq

Following blogs on American commercial involvement in Iraq, the news of the kidnapping of British civilians in Baghdad brings to light the U.K.’s dealings.
From what Americans involved in commercial enterprise have said they went to Iraq expecting to “help out” the Iraqi people. Unsurprisingly many Iraqis don’t see it that way, and the deaths of four contractors with the exhibition of their charred remains, while deeply disturbing, illustrates this.
We wish fervently for a happy outcome to the abductions. The questions raised though are what precisely the companies are doing there. There are huge sums of money involved, and those who choose to work in this most dangerous of places can earn considerable sums. Many are former army personnel who return to their former lives on a much higher rate of pay. Are they involved in a humanitarian quest for the people of Iraq, or are they involved, as the Americans have shown to be, involved in the humiliation and torture of Iraqis. Many of the victims have been not insurgents but ordinary people going about their day-to-day business.


As with the big reconstruction contracts, the main beneficiaries were at first American: Blackwater, DynCorp and Vinnell for police and army training and guarding US officials. But the “(The) British soon got a slice when the newly formed Aegis Defence won a $293m contract from the US army corps of engineers to coordinate security work. The firm’s turnover of £554,000 in 2003 rose to £62m in 2005, 75% of which came from Iraq.
It was a controversial appointment as the company was run by the former mercenary from the Scots Guards, Lieutenant Colonel Tim Spicer, a central figure in the arms-to-Africa scandal of the late 1990s, when arms were shipped to a Sierra Leone militia leader later indicted as a war criminal. The company has survived a number of further controversies – such as the so-called “trophy video” of its men on patrol shooting at Iraqi civilian cars – and now some of the most senior retired British officers sit on the board.”
(Source Guardian 28/5/2007)
More from The Independent.
Comment: War on Want.

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