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* Missed messages on Iran  Robert Kagan

* Envoy Condemns US Officials' Irresponsible Comments on Iran  News Report

* 'Israel will be destroyed if it attacks Iran'  News Report

* Warning of long war if Israel attacks Iran  News Report

* Iran unlikely to halt nuclear program, secret letters show  News Report

* Iran denies Ahmadi-Nejad was attacked  News Report

* Sanctions set stage for a new push on Iran  News Report

* اطلاعیۀ آیت الله منتطری دربارۀ حرام بودن مقاومت در برابر رأی مردم  Ali Behrooz

* لیست اسامی با حروف فارسی، تا تاریخ 08/09/08  Ali Behrooz

* War of words, or words of war  Ali Behrooz

* Could Israel use submarines against Iran?  News Report

* Iran deplores UAE claim on 3 islands  News Report

* 'Iran will respond to any attack'  News Report

* Carter to meet Hamas leadership in Cairo  News Report

* No Peace Without Hamas  News Report

* Ahmadinejad again voices Sept. 11 doubts  News Report

* Clinton, Obama tackle Iran issue in debate  News Report

* Bomb kills at least 9 in Iran mosque  News Report

* Iran demands Israel stop force threats  News Report

* Ahmadinejad to dismiss 2 cabinet ministers in Iran  News Report

* Iran: Naval encounter routine check  News Report

* Tony Blair's Palestine  News Report

* Clinton attacks Obama and McCain over Iraq  News Report

* Reza Pahlavi: Leadership for Democracy in Iran  News Report

* Petraeus: Return to 'pre-surge' troop levels, then wait  News Report

* Blast rocks US complex in Sanaa  News Report

* Clashes in Nile Delta after strike aborted  News Report

* When a great power goes mad  News Report

* Iranians defy censor with bootleg DVDs  News Report

* Putin says Iran is no threat  News Report

* Creating a US-Iran Bridge  News Report

* Court removes PKK from terror funds list  News Report

* 12 militants wanted by Israel flee Palestinian jail in West Bank after fight  News Report

* Limiting Tehran’s Influence?  Ali Behrooz

* UAE detains ship as grip on Tehran tightens  News Report

* Iranian critic not guilty of espionage  News Report

* Israelis and Palestinians pledge to reach peace pact by end of 2008  News Report

* Conference in Qom focuses on Iran-US challenges  News Report

* FM spokesman: Iran's plan on Iraq not put for voting  News Report

* Iran's top dissident cleric calls for U.S. talks  News Report

* Islamic militants take fight against Musharraf to 'Pakistan's Switzerland'  News Report

* 'Desperate' Musharraf declares martial law  News Report

* US Sanctions on Iran Leave Europeans in a Quandary  Sir Cyril Townsend

* After Thamilselvan  News Report

* Analysis: Is Abbas playing his cards right ahead of ME summit?  News Report

* Bahrain accuses Iran of nuclear weapons lie  News Report

* Senior Tamil Tiger leader killed  News Report

* US declares PKK 'a common enemy'  News Report

* Iran urged to join Gulf nuclear deal  News Report

* Iran's leaders need enemies like Bush, and at every turn he obliges them  News Report

* Giuliani hits Democrats on Iran  News Report

* Iran: We have no information on Arad  News Report

* Clinton hails US move on Iran  News Report

* Israel to prepare for potential missile attack  News Report

* US First Lady in Kuwait  News Report

* Rice: Mideast solution in jeopardy  News Report

* Kurdish fighters defy the world from mountain fortress as bombing begins  News Report

* Protesters confront Condoleezza Rice as she testifies on Middle East  News Report

* Showdown With Iran  News Report

* U.S. outlines Baghdad security handover plan  News Report

* Poll shows global opposition to Iran - and U.S.  News Report

* Iraq promises Turkey it will curb Kurdish rebels  News Report

* Big shoes to fill  News Report

* LUKOIL says halts Iran oil project on US sanctions  News Report

* Three soldiers killed in Darfur camp attack - UN  News Report

* There's a better - and cheaper - way that Washington can help Lebanon  News Report

* Lebanese patience for Nahr al-Bared displaced wears thin  News Report

* Iran, Syria urge diplomatic means instead of military incursion into Iraq  News Report

* Talabani refuses to deliver PKK leaders to Turkey amid protests against incursion  News Report

* Turkey vows to defeat PKK rebels  News Report

* Iran N-case on Olmert's Paris agenda  News Report

* Motaki (FM): US in No Position to Attack Iran  News Report

* We will fight to the death, Kurdish rebel leader vows from his hideout  News Report

* Deaths And Hostages In Border Clash  News Report

* Flash News: Kurdish separatistand 12 Turkish soldiers killed  News Report

* IRGC Commander:Aggressions to Be Reciprocated with a Rain of Rockets  News Report

* 2 leaders back Blair as European Union president  News Report

* Babacan stresses dialogue as key to solving Lebanese crisis  News Report

* Jordan hopes for positive outcome of Annapolis meeting  News Report

* Iran's nuclear negotiator resigns  News Report

* Larijani Resigns  Ali Behrooz

* NATO says shipment of roadside bombs was 'from Iran'  News Report

* Israel impeding effort to clear cluster bombs  News Report

* Bhutto defiant over bomb attack  News Report

* Democrats' stance on Iran criticized  News Report

* Top Palestinian negotiator may resign  News Report

* UN condemns killing of its truck drivers in Darfur  News Report

* Kurds sign oil deals beyond regional borders – former minister  News Report

* Jerusalem is ours, warns Likud  News Report

* Rice back in Israel after Egypt talks  News Report

* Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane workers in southern Iran go on strike  News Report

* Ahmadinejad: Caspian states to form economic cooperation organization  News Report

* Putin lands in Iran for nuke talks  News Report

* Mideast Conference and the Illusive Peace  News Report

* Coalition of the Reluctant  News Report

* World bank neglects African farming, study says  News Report

* Putin dismisses threat of assassination in Iran  News Report

* Israel signals readiness to cede parts of Jerusalem to Palestinians  News Report

* Christiane Amanpour: 'People think I relax with a Kalashnikov - I don't'  News Report

* After honeymoon, Sarkozy method poses three risks  News Report


Private US military contractors move into Helmand
[ News Report]  [2007-10-14 18:46:25]
[Source: Independent on Sunday - 14/10/07]


British forces fear influx of Americans may harm 'hearts and minds' campaign after Blackwater shootings in Iraq

By Kim Sengupta in Kabul

Published: 14 October 2007

Large numbers of US private military personnel are expected to arrive in Helmand, the focal point of British involvement in Afghanistan, as part of a new effort to promote reconstruction and development in the war-torn province.

The US has contributed the largest sum to the new aid effort, over $200m. But British officials striving to win "hearts and minds" in the conflict against the Taliban have expressed concern over the potential influx of military contractors, amid a continuing furore over the shooting of civilians in Iraq by Blackwater.

As Nato troops reclaim territory from the Taliban, the movement has increasingly resorted to suicide attacks and roadside bombings. "The worry is that there will be a blast, and some contractors will panic and open fire, as happened with Blackwater in Baghdad. That is the very last thing that Helmand needs at the moment," said a Western diplomat.

"On paper the Americans are by far the largest donors in the province, but a big portion of that never filters down to the ground." A recent meeting of donors decided that the security situation in Helmand was now stable enough to start bigger aid projects. But there are recurring complaints, including among some USAID workers, that a substantial proportion of American aid money is siphoned off for security. The US government spends, on average, just over $1m a year to protect each aid worker it sends to Afghanistan.

DynCorp, one of the main American security companies, has already sown resentment in Helmand with its participation in the campaign to eradicate the opium poppy crop. British commanders accept that farmers whose livelihoods have been destroyed do not distinguish between private contractors and soldiers, despite repeated assurances that British troops are not involved. The government of President Hamid Karzai, like its counterpart in Iraq, has expressed concern about the activities of private contractors and is discussing new legislation to tighten control.

Blackwater provides security for the US embassy in Kabul, but the largest American government contract in the country is believed to be held by Texas-based USPI. According to reports in its home state last week, the company has been accused of overbilling the US government by millions of dollars for non-existent employees and vehicles. USPI acknowledges that it is being investigated, but insists that the allegations are untrue.

USPI's hiring practices in Afghanistan have drawn criticism from the International Crisis Group, a think tank. It said in a report that a majority of the men on USPI's payroll were associated with private militias. "Many have used their authority to engage in criminal activity, including drug trafficking," it claimed.

An American supervisor working for USPI was accused of shooting dead an Afghan interpreter and is said to have been flown out of the country the next day. Officials from Blackwater later took part in a raid on its offices in which computers and files were removed.

USPI has been the target of several bomb attacks. Its headquarters in Kandahar was hit by a suicide bomb, and another suicide bomber targeting a convoy being escorted by the company's personnel killed 15 people and injured 26.

 





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