Mercenary “contractors” lose immunity in Iraq deal

The Iraqi armed services are likely to target widely-hated American security contractors when they lose their immunity to Iraqi law under a new agreement between the US and the Iraq.

The main American concession, during prolonged and rancorous negotiations over a future military relationship between the US and Iraq has been to agree to lift the immunity hitherto enjoyed by the 154,000 contractors, of whom 35,000 are private security men.

Said Ahmed Chalabi, the veteran Iraqi politician, in an interview with The Independent: "People haven't forgotten about the Iraqis who were killed by private security men in Nisour Square." Security personnel from Blackwater USA are accused of killing 17 Iraqi civilians, including a mother and child, when they opened fire in the square in west Baghdad on 16 September last year.

Mr Chalabi says it is likely that the Iraqi security forces and judiciary will go out of their way to arrest foreign security men who break Iraqi law, which they have so far flouted.

The negotiation of a US-Iraqi agreement replaces the current UN mandate for US forces that is due to run out at the end of the year.

[Excerpt of an article by Patrick Cockburn, The Independent]

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