THE FOUR men killed in Fallujah last week were not "civilian contractors" helping Iraqis. They were mercenaries, former members of the US Navy Seal special forces, acting as hired guns in Iraq. They deserve no sympathy from anyone.
The four were part of a growing army of mercenaries used by the US to try and shift some of the burden of the occupation away from its regular forces, who are suffering from slumping morale. The use of mercenaries means less politically damaging casualties among official US forces. The four mercenaries killed in Fallujah were employed by the North Carolina based Blackwater US firm.
The same firm provides the mercenaries who form the personal bodyguard of the US ruler of Iraq, Paul Bremer. In February Blackwater began recruiting former Chilean commandos who had served that country's military dictator General Pinochet. Other mercenary firms are also supplying killers to help run the occupation of Iraq.
There are more than 1,500 South African mercenaries in Iraq, mostly former members of the apartheid regime's military and police forces. The joint US-South African company Meteoric Tactical Solutions and a joint British-South African company Erinys hires many of these mercenaries. The British government is directly employing mercenaries in Iraq. Respected journalist Robert Fisk reported in the Independent last week that Meteoric Tactical Solutions "has a £270,000 contract with [Britain's] Department for International Development.
"Another British-owned company, ArmorGroup, has a £876,000 contract to supply 20 security guards for the Foreign Office. The firm also employs about 500 Gurkhas to guard executives with the US firms Bechtel and Kellogg, Brown & Root."