Afghan officials have finally had enough, Reuters reported on Friday, angrily rejecting any possibility that foreign military contractors could be charged with training and advising their embattled country’s security forces.
This is essentially bad news for one person: Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater the private military contractor (that has gone by many names) with a record of killing civilians with impunity in Iraq and making Prince a very, very rich man.
According to Reuters, President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday repeated his disdain for Prince’s plan as “destructive and divisive debate”.
“Under no circumstances will the Afghan government and people allow the counterterrorism fight to become a private, for-profit business,” read Ghani’s official statement.
Although military experts, including U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis, say this is a bad idea and would damage U.S. credibility, there were reports in 2017 that he was getting some traction in the White House.
President Trump ultimately upped U.S. troop levels instead, but then in August, there were reports that the president, frustrated with lack of progress in Afghanistan, was again considering hiring Prince’s private army.
Prince, for his part, has been persistent, and recently spent time in the Afghan capital of Kabul, courting media and officials for support on his plans.
In a remarkable interview with Afghanistan’s Tolo News network, Prince expressed how much he cares about Afghanistan. He does not discuss donating to any funds that might help support Afghan schools or businesses, or any plans to help resettle the thousands of Afghans displaced and living in squalor in refugee camps around the country.
He does, however, speak for about 23 minutes about a plan for which he would charge the U.S. government $5 billion a year.
He told Tolo that he wanted to bring back the 1970s days of “garden parties and music playing in the streets” of Kabul.
When the interviewer Lotfullah Najafizada asked if his “private army” would be the ones to bring back the Halcyon days for a country ravaged by decades of war and unrest, Prince bristled to the incredulous host that his would not be a private army. Unfortunately for Prince, the strap on the lengthy interview was “Erik Prince Discusses Privatization of Afghan War.”