US plans to fortify its embassy in Iraq have raised new suspicion about the diplomatic outpost’s purpose in the politically-gridlocked country.
The White House has reduced the number of its troops in Iraq to around 50,000 and said it would take all its forces out of the country by the next year. But Washington has also announced plans to increase the number of American security contractors, tasked with securing American diplomats and diplomatic facilities.
In an interview with Press TV, Entifadh Qanbar from the Shia parliamentary front Iraqi National Alliance (INA) referred to the nationwide misgivings fueled by the planned security buildup.
“I think having 20,000 or 10,000 security personnel on the Iraqi ground is a serious violation of the Iraqi sovereignty,” he said.
“…it will give the impression and the perception that the US embassy is acting beyond its capacity as a diplomatic embassy rather than interference in the Iraqi politics or, as some people would like to call it, acting as a shadow government…”
The contractors would be authorized to run surveillance missions in search for alleged roadside bombs, fly spy planes and man radar facilities. The number of the US-deployed aircraft, helicopters, mine-resistant vehicles and armor-plated cars will also go up to match the reinforcement.
The most infamous among contractors is private security contractor Blackwater, currently known as Xe Services, LLC. In one incident, Blackwater employees killed 17 civilians in Baghdad’s Nisour Square during a shooting spree in 2007.
Frank Wisner, former US ambassador to Egypt and India said, “We paid a terrible price…for what we did with our intervention and it should give us great great pause. Before the United States commits force and changes the regime, we need to take through very carefully what it takes to do that, what the follow-up is and what our responsibility is over the years to come and do a careful cost-benefit analysis. Just to go in because we have the capability is not a good idea.”
The comments came at a time of political vulnerability in Iraq resulting from the March 7 parliamentary polls that did not produce a clear winner to form a new government.
The Baghdad embassy—the largest of any nation on planet earth and ten times bigger than any other US embassy—is striking evidence indicating a continued US presence in the country for many years to come. The structure cost more than $700 million and is the size of 80 football fields. It is bigger than the Vatican, six times larger than the United Nations compound in New York and is about two thirds the size of the National Mall in Washington. It has space for 1,000 employees who are guarded by scores of paramilitary mercenary forces. In other words it is the perfect structure for a nation that claims to be leaving Iraq very soon.