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Mercenaries Make Up Third Largest Military Force in Iraq

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Issue: 17 Section: International News Iraq

April 6, 2004

Mercenaries Make Up Third Largest Military Force in Iraq

Facing a shortage of rested and trained soldiers, the US military is increasingly relying on mercenaries to provide security for key areas of Iraq. An estimated 15,000 "private security contractors" are paid as much as USD $1000 per day, making up a force that is exceeded in size only by British and American contingents. The mercenaries come from varied backgrounds: former secret service agents and former soldiers come from the US, UK, Chile, Nepal, South Africa, and Iraq itself.

Before the invasion of Iraq, "security contracting" has been one of the fastest growing industries in the world, and is estimated to be worth $100 billion per year. Oil companies, aid agencies, and governments have increasingly hired private security firms to protect their interests. Some British observers claim that mercenaries are the UK's biggest export to Iraq.

Other observers have raised concerns that governments cannot be held accountable for the actions of mercenary "subcontractors". In 1989, nineteen countries ratified an addition to the Geneva Convention that banned the use of mercenaries. The US, UK and Canada were among those who did not sign.

» The Age: Mercenaries flock to fill vacuum

» Kathryn Cramer: Iraq: The Secret Policeman's Other Ball

» The Independent: Occupiers Spend Millions on Private Army of Security Men

» Village Voice: U.S. Turns to Mercenaries

» The Star (South Africa): Security firms and mercenaries coining it in Iraq

» Guardian: Iraqi Army Walkout Over Pay

» Washington Times: Use of private security firms in Iraq draws concerns

» Alternet: Mercenaries 'R' Us

» IRIN: South Africa: Authorities target alleged mercenaries

» The Economist: The Baghdad boom

» Guardian: The privatisation of war

» Treaty: International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries, 4 December 1989

» Knot Magazine: Outsourcing Death

» Village Voice: U.S. Turns to Mercenaries

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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