Though three months ago the Iraqi government formally declared Blackwater Worldwide persona non grata in the nation, citing “excessive use of force” in the 2007 massacre of 17 Baghdad civilians, the group continues to have presence in the nation.
Despite no longer having a license to operate there Blackwater, which has since changed its name to Xe in an effort to distance itself from the taint of its infamous role in Iraq, continues to operate, guarding diplomats and providing air security for diplomatic convoys. The State Department signed a $22 million deal with Xe after the Iraqi government announced it would no longer be licensed to operate in the nation.
Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh says that Iraq “do not want Blackwater to work in Iraqi airspace or land … under one name or another.” Though it seems the unwelcome contractor will have a presence in the nation at least through this Summer (and potentially well into 2010), Dabbagh insists that Iraq will not allow them to have a long-term presence in the nation, but the delay is still outraging victims of the organization.
Contractors for Blackwater are facing 14 charges of manslaughter and 20 charges of attempted manslaughter over the September 2007 incident. The State Department also intends to review the contractor’s operations in Afghanistan.