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Afghanistan Begins Promise to Disband Private Security Firms

  • Ira Mellman

In this Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010 photo, An Afghan policeman carries weapons confiscated from a disbanded private security company in Herat, west of Kabul, Afghanistan.

In this Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010 photo, An Afghan policeman carries weapons confiscated from a disbanded private security company in Herat, west of Kabul, Afghanistan.

The government of Afghanistan has started to carry out President Karzai’s decision in August to oust private security firms from his country.

President Karzai's edict demanded that private security companies to be disbanded in his country by the end of this year.

Government spokesman Waheed Omar said a group of eight private foreign and Afghan firms will disband there operations there and have their weapons confiscated.

“The focus of the Afghan government will be on those security companies which are the companies protecting the highways, protecting transportation caravans and working in areas other than training Afghan security forces or other than protecting the internal premises of international organizations or embassies or others,” said the spokesman.

Among the companies effected was U.S. based Xe Services, formerly known as Backwater, a company that had been accused of the indiscriminate killings of Iraqis in a 2007 case.

Karzai caught many, including many in the United States by surprise when he announced the ban in August.

In an interview with ABC's This Week program at the time, Mr. Karzai said his government had decided "to bring an end to these security companies who are running a parallel security structure to the Afghan government who are not only causing corruption in this country, but who are looting and stealing from the Afghan people, who are causing a lot of harassment to our civilians."

Mr. Karzai added "We don’t know if these are security companies during the daytime. Some of them turn into terroristic groups at night time. They are wasting billions of dollars in resources and they are definitely an obstruction , an impediment in a most serious manor to the growth of Afghanistan’s security institutions, police and army.”

When those comments were made, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul supported the idea in principle, but suggested the timetable was unrealistic.

Some 40 private security companies employing about 26,000 people are working with the US in Afghanistan alone. Most are working with the U.S. military and the State Department.

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