Thursday, February 11, 2010

Former Xe guards asked to leave Iraq

This makes me uncomfortable, assuming the following dots do in fact connect. On the one hand, if it brings Salomi home safely, that's great news for he and his family. However, the precendent sets up a political dynamic that could quickly spiral out of hand for foreign workers in Iraq.

What am I referring to?

Less than a week after the discovery of online video footage of American-Iraqi hostage, Issa Salomi, 250 former Blackwater (now Xe) security guards have been asked to leave Iraq. One of the kidnappers' demands, as presented by Salomi in the online video, was "the expulsion of former Blackwater security guards."
Iraq expels 250 ex-Blackwater staff
Al Jazeera, February 12, 2010
Making the announcement on Thursday, Jawad Bolani, the interior minister, said: "We have sent an order to 250 former Blackwater employees, who today are working with other security companies in Iraq, to leave the country in seven days and we have confiscated their residence permits.
"All of those concerned were notified four days ago and so they have three days to leave. This decision was made in connection with the crime that took place at Nisur Square."
Bolani was referring to an incident at the busy Baghdad square in September 2007, when five guards employed by Blackwater were accused of killing 14 unarmed Iraqis in a gun and grenade attack, and wounding 18 others.
The same group believed behind the kidnapping of Issa Salomi, The League of the Righteous, recently released another hostage from, Peter Moore of the UK. Three of his bodyguards are dead, one remains missing. Moore's release came just after a jailed political leader affiliated with the League of the Righteous was transferred to Iraqi control.
Iraq hostage Peter Moore arrives back in UK
BBC, January 1, 2010
The release was thought to be connected Qais al-Khazali, the leader of Asaib al-Haq, or the League of Righteousness, was transferred from US to Iraqi custody shortly before the release of Mr Moore.
Additional Reading
Iraq orders former Blackwater security guards out
By Qassim Abdul-Zahra, Washington Post, February 11, 2010

Kidnapping of American in Iraq sparked by faltering reconciliation talks
By Jane Arraf, Christian Science Monitor, February 11, 2010
Issa Salomi, a linguist working on an Army project to map tribal structures, was seized on January 23 while visiting relatives in the Karrada neighborhood of Baghdad, according to the US military. A Shiite extremist group, The League of the Righteous, Asaib Ahl al-Haq, (AAH) last week released a video of Mr. Salomi dressed in a US Army uniform and calling for the release of insurgents who fought American forces - and the expulsion of former Blackwater security guards.

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