In January, the Iraqi government announced that it would “not issue a new operating license to Blackwater Worldwide,” which is now known as Xe, and that the company would have to be out of the country “as soon as a joint Iraqi-U.S. committee finishes drawing up guidelines for private contractors.” But the AP reports today that the company is “still protecting U.S. diplomats in Iraq, even though the company has no license to operate there and has been told by the State Department its contracts will not be renewed two years after a lethal firefight that stirred outrage in Baghdad.” Some victims of that firefight are angry that the company has yet to leave:
Some Iraqis wounded in the September 2007 shootout by guards for the former Backwater Worldwide security firm expressed anger and dismay Tuesday after reports that the company will continue work in Iraq longer than previously thought.
Hussein Jabber, a Baghdad lawyer hit by gunfire in the deadly melee, says he was outraged at the Iraqi government for not taking a harder stance against the company, now known as Xe.
“The Blackwater personnel are mercenaries. The Iraqi government knows that very well,” said Jabber, who still has bullet fragments in his arm and side from the Sept. 16, 2007 shooting that left 17 Iraqis dead and another 20 wounded in Baghdad’s busy Nisoor Square.
The State Department has said that the company’s guards will stop protecting U.S. diplomats on the ground in Baghdad on May 7, when that specific contract is up. But the AP reports that the company’s guards “are slated to continue ground operations in parts of Iraq long into the summer, far longer than had previously been acknowledged.”