Mercenaries in Iraq

CLEARLY, as a UN official has put it, “rogue elements are running amok” in Iraq. The second shooting incident within a week involving an Australian-run private security firm, killing two innocent women, is fresh proof that recklessness is the order of the day there. How to extricate the situation from this abyss?

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Published: Fri 12 Oct 2007, 10:14 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 1:02 AM

For a start, the UN call to prosecute the erring security guards is a welcome step forward. This, even as these guards are supposedly “immune” from legal proceedings under an agreement between the US and the Iraqi civil administration. Prima facie, agreements that violate international human rights laws have no locus standi. They should be scrapped, and declared null and void, with the same ease with which they were signed.

Appreciably, another UN official has gone a step further, and said the contracting companies, like Blackwater, are liable for prosecution under international human rights law. Why not? However, it is imperative that such prosecutions do not turn out to be a farce, as has been the case with legal proceedings in Iraq in recent times. UN has taken the stand that nations that have contractors in Iraq should apply the rule of law, and prosecute the erring guards back home. Not a bad idea, as it will be difficult for the guilty to escape punishment, be it in the US or Australia, for instance, where judicial systems are strong, vibrant and generally beyond the spheres of individual, even governmental, influence.

A question is also, how long should Iraqis put up with such provocations? Prosecuting erring guards is just a small way forward. The real issue is, why occupation and why foreign forces on Iraqi soil? The more these forces stay on, the more the fillip to violence, and the more the aggressions by insurgents. The US presence in Iraq might suit men like Nour Al Maliki, or the other props of the Americans there; a reason why they keep pleading for continued troop presence there. It is a guarantee for their continuance in power, and a guarantee for their lives as well. There, in reality, is going to be no deluge there. As we asked the other day, how worse can worse be in Iraq? Iraqis will, and should, learn to guide their destiny in proper ways, and without external guidance. Give them that opportunity. For everybody’s sake.

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