US Construction Projects in Afghanistan Shutting Down Over Contractor Ban

$1.5 Billion in Reconstruction Work Affected

This weekend Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced that he was backing down on his blanket ban on private security contractors, allowing the NATO forces to continue to employ contractors in a number of cases on bases and in embassies. The ban will, however, continue in the broader sense.

Indeed, a number of US-funded reconstruction projects are already being shut down because the sites can no longer be protected by private security, which is amounting to them having no security at all.

Officials say that the ban is affecting $1.5 billion in US projects across the nation, all but bringing the “civilian surge” in Afghanistan to a complete halt nationwide. Roads have stopped being constructed, and some 20,000 Afghans are expected to be put out of work.

“If these projects grind to a halt, we might as well go home,” noted one official, who insisted the ban would be “catastrophic” if it remains in place. President Karzai has expressed hope that those who lose private security jobs will join the police, as recruitment has struggled do to extremely poor pay and dangerous working conditions.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.