Iraqi private security firms operate "mafia" to raise their "outrageous prices": Wikileaks

Written by: Super Admin
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Baghdad, Dec 22 (ANI): The whistleblower website 'Wikileaks' has revealed in secret US diplomatic cables that the Halliburton oil field's senior executive in Iraq had accused private security companies of operating a "mafia" to increase their "outrageous prices".

According to the Guardian, the confidential document written by a senior diplomat in the US's Basra office discloses tensions between private security firms, oil companies and the Iraqi government as coalition forces withdraw from protecting foreign business interests.

John Naland, head of the provincial reconstruction team in Basra, wrote in January 2010 that several oil company representatives complained of "unwarranted high prices" given an improving security situation since 2008.

"Halliburton Iraq country manager decried a 'mafia' of these companies and their 'outrageous' prices, and said that they also exaggerate the security threat," he added.

"Apart from the high costs for routine trips, he claimed that Halliburton often receives what he says are 'questionable' reports of vulnerability of employees to kidnapping and ransom. He said that he recently saw an internal memo from their security company which tasked its employees to emphasize the persistent danger faced by IOCs (international oil companies)," the paper quoted the leaked cables, as saying.

However the memo, written nine months after British troops handed over control of their base in Basra to the US army, does not name the Halliburton manager, the paper said.

"According to XXXXXXXXXX, the GOI (government of Iraq) is anxious to 'get rid of all the white faces carrying guns' in their streets," Naland wrote.

Tensions between private security companies and the Baghdad government had increased in Iraq following the decision by the US courts in December 2009 not to prosecute anyone for the Blackwater killings of 17 Iraqis in Baghdad in September 2007. (ANI)

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