Afghanistan has formally banned eight foreign private security firms, including the controversial company formerly called Blackwater, a spokesman for President Hamid Karzai said on Sunday.
The Afghan government announced in August that it was giving security firms working in Afghanistan four months to cease operations, potentially hitting hard efforts by NATO-led troops fighting a nine-year insurgency in the country.
“The process of dissolving eight private security companies and collecting their weapons has been carried out successfully,” Waheed Omer told reporters.
Xe, the former Blackwater, and White Eagle Security Services, which provides security for Afghan government officials and NGOs in particular, are among the first companies banned.
The August presidential decree ordered the 52 private security contractors operating in the country, both Afghan and international, to cease operations by January 1, 2011.
Many fear the measure could create huge problems for the military and other international entities that depend on the estimated 40,000 employees of private security contractors.
Karzai had accused the security companies of running an “economic mafia” based around “corruption contracts” favored by the international community.
He has said the firms duplicate the work of the Afghan security forces and divert much-needed resources, while Afghans criticize the private guards as overbearing and abusive, particularly on the country’s roads.
Critics, though, say the tight deadline will not allow enough time to negotiate an alternative to private contractors in a country were security is a priority and police are generally not trusted.
Private security firms in Afghanistan are employed by US and NATO forces, the Pentagon, the UN mission, aid and non-governmental organizations, embassies and Western media.
They employ about 26,000 registered personnel, though experts say the real number could be as high as 40,000.
The contractors themselves have been reluctant to comment publicly but some have said privately they believe many of their clients would leave the country if they could not source their own security.
Xe, formerly Blackwater, gained notoriety in Iraq after guards protecting a convoy opened fire in a busy Baghdad square in September 2007, killing as many as 17 civilians.
Last month two former Blackwater security guards went on trial in the United States, accused of the murder of two Afghan citizens in a 2009 shooting.
Trump officials could face criminal charges for USPS sabotage — and the president may not be able to pardon them
Members of the Trump administration could face legal jeopardy over efforts to sabotage U.S. Postal Service operations to interfere with the 2020 presidential elections.
"Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) made a criminal referral to the New Jersey Attorney General on Friday night, asking him to impanel a grand jury to look at possible breach of state election laws by President Trump, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and others for 'their accelerating arson of the post office,' he said. Alarming headlines have emerged in recent days as many states prepare to facilitate widespread mail balloting due to the coronavirus pandemic. President Trump openly admitted he was withholding federal aid from the postal service to prevent mail-in voting, and USPS has notified 46 states and D.C. that it will struggle to deliver some mail ballots on time," The Daily Beast reported Friday.
Maddow reveals how one state stood up to Trump’s USPS cuts — and won
MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow's opening segment on Friday focused on a positive story of political pressure stopping one of the Trump administration's attacks on the U.S. Postal Service.
Maddow reported how NBC Montana reporter Maritsa Georgiou had doggedly reported on the removal of postal boxes in Missoula, where she is based. Missoula has been a long-time Democratic Party stronghold.
Montana has a competitive U.S. Senate election in 2020, with Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock challenging first-term Republican Sen. Steve Daines.
As Georgiou chased the story, she learned there were also plans to remove boxes in the battleground of Billings. And more planned for the blue town of Bozeman. And other towns.
Pepsi joins the chorus of people dunking on Tucker Carlson over Kamala Harris
The Pepsi soda company mocked Fox News personality Tucker Carlson on Friday evening.
On Tuesday, Carlson flipped out after a guest attempted to teach him how to pronounce the name of Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), who is running for vice president on Joe Biden's ticket.
Video of the exchange was posted on Twitter by Nikki McCann Ramirez, a researcher at the watchdog group Media Matters for America.
Tucker Carlson loses it when a guest corrects his pronunciation of Kamala Harris's name pic.twitter.com/1fHIrPGuwN