Afghan government bans mercenary firms

December 22, 2010

KABUL – The Afghan government is determined to shut down all mercenary firms who are also known as private security companies operating in the country and has already disbanded 57 such firms, the Interior Ministry official in charge of the process said Tuesday.

President Hamid Karzai issued a decree in August ordering all private mercenary firms to be disbanded by Dec. 17, but a shortage of qualified police led to a deadline extension in several cases, such as for companies protecting development and aid projects or diplomatic sites, The Associated Press reported.
Gen. Abdul Manan Farahi said 57 private security firms have already been shut down and 3,000 of their guards disarmed. He said companies protecting aid and development projects and diplomatic missions would be able to continue operating but only within the premises they are guarding.
“They should be inside their premises, not outside,” Farahi said, adding that the security guards “should not interfere” in police work outside their own sites.
Many of aid and development companies had said they would have to cease operations in volatile provinces in the south and east if they could not use private security guards to protect their workers and their projects.
According to the government's plan, all other employers of private guards will gradually start using a special police unit called the Afghan Public Protection Force.
Karzai has said the existence of dozens of private mercenary firms undermines the Afghan security forces -- creating militias that often flout Afghan laws and regulations.
There are about 30,000 to 40,000 armed mercenaries working in Afghanistan, about 26,000 of them employed by the U.S. military or government, according to Afghan and U.S. officials.
Farahi acknowledged that there were security concerns but that the capabilities of the Afghan police have been increasing.
“I would like to clearly state that the (Interior Ministry), in order to fill the gaps and build the capacity and increase the capability of security, has taken essential steps,” he said. “And with the new capacity, these private security companies will be disbanded and will be replaced by police.”
Kabul has confirmed the presence of scores of foreign mercenary firms in Afghanistan, including the notorious U.S. security firm Xe Services LLC -- formerly known as Blackwater, Press TV reported.
Private mercenaries were operating in the country with absolutely no supervision by the Afghan government.
President Karzai had earlier accused foreign security contractors of operating like militias, saying that the firms are only worsening the security situation in Afghanistan.
Most of the security contractors are believed to have close ties with Afghan warlords and have been accused of being partly responsible for the rise in civilian casualties in the country.
Blackwater/Xe mercs were hated by the Iraqis during their time in that country because they were able to kill many civilians with impunity.
Photo: Afghan President Hamid Karzai issued a decree in August ordering all mercenary firms to be banned by Dec. 17 in the country, but a shortage of qualified police led to a deadline extension in several cases.