Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater, the American private security organisation, has claimed that his employees have called in airstrikes in Afghanistan.
He also mocked Afghan military recruits for needing lessons in how to use a toilet, and questioned the value and quality of other countries’ troops in the country.
In a speech in January at the University of Michigan which was secretly recorded, he questioned the will to fight of many Nato troops in Afghanistan, saying that “a lot of them should just pack it in and go home”.
Blackwater, now renamed Xe Services, has been a lightning rod for controversy surrounding America’s use of private contractors in war zones since its personnel killed 17 unarmed Iraqi civilians in a Baghdad square in 2007.
Mr Prince rarely makes public appearances but in an recording of a recent, private address to a “friendly audience” obtained by The Nation magazine, he can be heard criticising the quality of the Afghan army’s raw recruits but claims his company’s instructors have turned them into “the most effective fighting force in Afghanistan.”
He also singles out the Canadians for their sacrifices and military prowess, but offers no praise for Britain’s troops.
The Nation said that he described a operation in July last year in South East Afghanistan, when Blackwater employees discovered an a huge cache of drugs. He said they had called in Nato airstrikes to destroy it.
“When the guys found it, they didn’t have enough ammo, enough explosives, to blow it, they couldn’t burn it all, so they had to call in multiple air strikes. Of course, you know, each of the Nato countries that came and did the air strikes took credit for finding and destroying the cache.”
The issue of airstrikes has been particularly contentious in Afghanistan where mistakes have inflamed local sentiment against Nato forces.
Mr Prince went onto to urge the US Government to send private contractors fight “terrorists” in Yemen, Somalia and Saudi Arabia, where he claims a “sinister” Iranian influence is growing. He also suggests that Blackwater contractors could be used in Nigeria to protect America’s oil interests from what he describes as “organised crime.” He called Iran “the absolute dead centre of badness”.
In response to questions of Blackwater contractors being potentially classified as “unlawful combatants” under the rules of the Geneva Convention, Mr Prince dismisses the idea, saying that Iraqi, Afghan, and Pakistani “barbarians” fighting against the United States “crawled out of the sewer.”
“They don’t know where Geneva is, let alone that there was a convention there,” he says.
Mr Prince went on to speak glowingly about the Blackwater’s achievements in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He claimed it was a Blackwater guard who takled an Iraqi journalist who assaulted President George W Bush with his shoes in December of 2008. Mr Prince called him a “shoe-bomber” and described the US Secret Service response as “flat-footed”.
Addressing the failure of Blackwater security detail to prevent the December 2009 bombing of a CIA office that killed 8 in Khost, in Afghanistan, Mr Prince said the loss of life was “the cost of doing that work.”
May 5, 2010
Matt Spence in Washington
Source: The Times
More on Blackwater (now ‘Xe’):
More on the war on terror:
– US special forces soldiers dug bullets out of their victims’ bodies in the bloody aftermath of a botched night raid, then washed the wounds with alcohol before lying to their superiors about what happened
– Obama: ‘I will promise you this, that if we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am President, it is the first thing I will do. I will get our troops home. We will bring an end to this war. You can take that to the bank.’ (!)
Murray asserts that the primary motivation for US and British military involvement in central Asia has to do with large natural gas deposits in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. As evidence, he points to the plans to build a natural gas pipeline through Afghanistan that would allow Western oil companies to avoid Russia and Iran when transporting natural gas out of the region.
Murray alleged that in the late 1990s the Uzbek ambassador to the US met with then-Texas Governor George W. Bush to discuss a pipeline for the region, and out of that meeting came agreements that would see Texas-based Enron gain the rights to Uzbekistan’s natural gas deposits, while oil company Unocal worked on developing the Trans-Afghanistan pipeline.
“The consultant who was organizing this for Unocal was a certain Mr. Karzai, who is now president of Afghanistan,” Murray noted.
“There are designs of this pipeline, and if you look at the deployment of US forces in Afghanistan, as against other NATO country forces in Afghanistan, you’ll see that undoubtedly the US forces are positioned to guard the pipeline route. It’s what it’s about. It’s about money, it’s about oil, it’s not about democracy.”
“I have lost understanding of and confidence in the strategic purposes of the United States’ presence in Afghanistan,” he wrote Sept. 10 in a four-page letter to the department’s head of personnel. “I have doubts and reservations about our current strategy and planned future strategy, but my resignation is based not upon how we are pursuing this war, but why and to what end.”
“I’m not much for this war. I’m not sure it’s worth all those lives lost,” said Sergeant Christian Richardson as we walked across corn fields that will soon be ploughed up to plant a spring crop of opium poppy.
Opium production rate has soared to 6,900 tons in Afghanistan in the past 10 years ‘despite‘ the presence of 100,000 foreign troops in the country for nearly eight years.
A report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime said on Wednesday that Afghanistan produces 92 percent of the world’s opium that has devastating global consequences.
The UN report also noted that Afghanistan’s illegal opium production is worth 65 billion dollars.
The heroin and opium market feeds 15 million addicts, with Europe, Russia and Iran consuming half the supply, UNODC reported.
– Top US commander in Afghanistan: The Taliban have gained the upper hand:
The Taliban have gained the upper hand in Afghanistan, the top American commander there said, forcing the U.S. to change its strategy in the eight-year-old conflict by increasing the number of troops in heavily populated areas like the volatile southern city of Kandahar, the insurgency’s spiritual home. Gen. Stanley McChrystal warned that means U.S. casualties, already running at record levels, will remain high for months to come.
(Source: The Wall Street Journal)