Insomnia (insomnia) wrote,

Foriegn contractors -- the untold cost of doing business in Iraq.

Robert Fisk and Patrick Cockburn are reporting that over 80 foriegn contractors have died over the past week's fighting in Iraq.

Bescause the U.S.-led coalition does not release casualty figures on contractors, many of those who do accept contracts in Iraq do so without adequate knowledge of the risks that they face. The highest risk contract jobs in Iraq appear to be security and convoy duty.

In the past week, the cost for contractors has been especially high -- higher even than for U.S. soldiers. In addition to the numerous dead contractors, more than 40 people from 12 countries have been kidnapped or are reported missing in the last week, though at least a dozen have been released. These numbers are believed to include seven American contract workers for Halliburton/Kellogg Brown & Root, as well as two U.S. soldiers.

Halliburton/KBR reports that around 30 of its people have been killed in Iraq and said on Monday that it was suspending some convoys delivering supplies because of escalating violence, increasing concerns about supply shortages. The Romanian private security firm Bidepa is considering pulling out of the country entirely after one of its workers was shot dead and another one injured in an ambush near Baghdad on Sunday. The Shaheen Group, a Jordanian company, has suspended its work in Iraq for at least a week, and may decide to pull out entirely if the risk to its employees does not decrease.

Meanwhile, insurance and security related costs add about 50% to the cost of all reconstruction in Iraq. These rates will only increase after the recent attacks. It it also speculated that kidnappings in Iraq -- which until recently have primarily been against other Iraqis -- may now be directed heavily against foriegners.

It is entirely possible that the cost and risks in Iraq for foriegn contractors may reach the point where Iraq's reconstruction becomes prohibitively dangerous and/or expensive. This, more than any military reason, may explain why the U.S. military has temporarily halted its offensive in Fallujah. If tensions in Iraq do not decrease, the whole reconstruction effort could collapse.

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