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Afghan government rejects Blackwater proposals to privatise war

05 Oct 2018 TRT World

Erik Prince, a former US Navy SEAL whose sister Betsy De Vos serves as Education Secretary in the Trump administration, has been lobbying officials about his proposal to privatise parts of US military operations in Afghanistan for more than a year.

Afghan officials have reacted

angrily to speculation that foreign military contractors could

take over training and advising the Afghan armed forces,

following a renewed push by the founder of private military

contractor Blackwater.

Erik Prince, whose company came to prominence during the war

in Iraq, has been lobbying officials about his proposal to

privatise parts of US military operations in Afghanistan for

more than a year.

On a recent visit to Kabul, he lobbied several Afghan

political figures and gave interviews to media outlets including

Tolo News, Afghanistan's largest television station, as well as

the New York Times, to discuss the plan.

President Ashraf Ghani, approaching presidential elections

in April, has repeatedly rejected the proposal and on Thursday

his national security adviser issued a statement condemning what

he called a "destructive and divisive debate".

"Under no circumstances will the Afghan government and

people allow the counterterrorism fight to become a private,

for-profit business," the statement said.

In August, US Defense Secretary James Mattis also rebuffed

the idea, saying, "When Americans put their nation's credibility

on the line, privatising it is probably not a wise idea."

Afghan officials say that any move to replace US military

advisers with private contractors would further undermine

government legitimacy and fuel Taliban accusations that the war

was being conducted for the benefit of foreign interests.

Speaking half seriously, one senior security official said

recently, "If they did that, even I would join the Taliban".

Prince, a former US Navy SEAL whose sister Betsy De Vos

serves as Education Secretary in President Donald Trump's

administration, would have retired Special Forces troops from

the United States and allied nations embed with Afghan forces,

replacing US and NATO military advisers.

The plan was originally broached last year as Trump was

considering a new strategy for Afghanistan but it was not

adopted and instead, Washington ordered thousands more U.S.

troops to be sent to boost existing forces.

The United States currently has some 14,000 troops in

Afghanistan, serving in the NATO-led Resolute Support training

and advisory mission as well as in separate counter-terrorism

operations against militant groups like Daesh.

Under the strategy announced just over a year ago, the extra

troops and greatly increased air strikes against the Taliban are

intended to force the insurgents to the negotiating table.

A brief ceasefire in June raised hopes of a possible

breakthrough with the Taliban but progress towards any kind of

peace deal has since been slow and fighting has continued with

increasing Afghan military casualties, raising questions about

the success of the strategy.

Trump has since been reported to be unhappy about the lack

of progress, prompting fears among some diplomats that he could

reverse course and order US troops out of Afghanistan, a move

that would risk a collapse of the Western-backed government.

Source: Reuters

Original Link: https://www.trtworld.com/asia/afghan-government-rejects-blackwater-proposals-to-privatise-war-20693

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