“Under no circumstances will Afghanistan allow the counterterrorism fight to become a private, for-profit business”, said a statement from the Afghan National Security Council, strongly opposing the proposal of outsourcing the Afghan War to Erik Prince. Prince, founder of the infamous Blackwater USA, is currently in Kabul trying to convince power-brokers on his proposal.
Afghan government strongly rejected Erik Prince’s proposal of privatising Afghan war.
— Pamir Afghan News (@PamirNews) October 4, 2018
Last year Prince pitched his proposal to President Trump, where he claimed to have found the solution of winning the Afghan War with a few thousand hired ‘contractors’ and a private Air Force. His proposal at that time faced severe criticism both at home and in Afghanistan, forcing him to back out. However, it seems that Prince might have finally won over Trump, and is now on busy trip to Kabul, pitching his idea to both the Afghan officials as well as notable politicians.
According to a report in the New York Times, Prince ‘has increasingly found a receptive audience among Afghanistan’s power brokers, meeting everyone from lowly militia commanders, to former cabinet officials and entrenched regional strongmen, to several potential presidential candidates’.
Prince has also been accused of cozying up to the opposition parties in Kabul, which many see as ‘manipulation’ or ‘meddling’ in the Afghan elections.
What explains Ghani gov's sudden anger at Blackwater's Erik Prince?
We have been following a story on how officials fear Prince, his proposal rejected by Ghani repeatedly, is trying to influence elections by cozying up to opposition figures up & down.https://t.co/aKAR3b4JOJ
— Mujib Mashal (@MujMash) October 4, 2018
Many in Kabul, during his meetings, have introduced Prince as a ‘close advisor to Trump’. It is also worth noting that Prince’s Blackwater USA, now known as Academi, is a private military company that became infamous for killing innocent civilians in Iraq.
In one such incident, on September 16, 2007, employees of Blackwater shot at Iraqi civilians, killing 17 and injuring 20 in Nisour Square, Baghdad. Hence, outsourcing the war to such a controversial contractor would only make the matters worse in Afghanistan.
US Army’s senior officials also seem to oppose the idea of sending ‘mercenaries’ to Afghanistan. The head of the US Central Command, General Joseph Votel, also told the reporters that he did not agree with Prince’s claim that the latter could win the Afghan War with ‘less money and a few thousand hired guns’. James Mattis, the US Defense Secretary, also opposed the idea, in August, saying: ‘When Americans put their nation’s credibility on the line, privatizing it is probably not a wise idea’.
Support for Prince’s proposal from President Trump comes on the back of the latter’s frustration with lack of progress in the Afghan War. Many in Washington also fear that Trump could suddenly reverse his stance on Afghanistan and order a complete US pull-out. Such a policy reversal also poses the grave danger of bringing down any government in Kabul.