Saturday, October 24, 2020
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For Karzai, It’s About His Authority and 10%

It isn't civilian casualties. It isn't the party hearty drinking, lurid behavior or frequenting Kabul brothels. It isn't even the bribes paid by contractors to the Taliban. Karzai sees an opportunity to take control of the funding and the patronage it buys, bringing potential challengers close to the breast.  

The majority of the contractors are not Americans or third country nationals. They include local militias large and small; mafia-like "insurance" providers. They are organized paramilitary forces and bands of thugs whose loyalty is bought and paid. This payoff money is funneled directly to them without the opportunity for a cut at the federal or provincial levels. To the Karzai government, they are a parallel shadow government. In reality they may be.

Karzai Liquidates the Surge

Afghani sovereignty and self-determination may be making success even more distant. The unilateral decision by the Karzai government to call a halt to the employment of private security contractors means that net, net, the surge will be made meaningless. It will be spent on support functions not "winning the war."

"The security companies have to go." - Karzai spokesman Waheed Omar

From the beginning there have been complaints that private firms are poorly regulated, reckless and effectively operate outside local law. They certainly operate outside the constructs of the traditional laws of land warfare. This was viewed as an unique advantage initially, but incidents like the Blackwater shooting in which 17 Iraq civilians were killed in a Baghdad square have created contentious issues with allies and the host nations.

Forces in Afghanistan, particularly our NATO partners', manage to avoid most direct contact with the enemy and casualties by assigning the defense of their support functions, convoys and installations, to contractors. Thus the coalition's ISAF acronym has come to mean: I Saw Americans Fighting.