Afghanistan

Karzai to Disband Security Forces

This could really put a dent in Blackwater's business: President Hamid Karzai declared Tuesday that all private security forces in Afghanistan will be dissolved by year's end. The decree was issued shortly after Karzai met with Senator John Kerry, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The ban would mark a substantial change in the country's security structure because there are an estimated 24,000 private armed guards employed by 52 registered security companies—mostly Afghan—who provide escorts for supply trucks, protect government and military buildings, and politicians. Karzai had been under pressure to control these private security firms amid allegations of corruption. However, it remains unclear exactly how Karzai will deliver on this order: His spokesman, Waheed Omar, did not explain how it would be enforced, many security firms are unregistered, and Karzai has a history of empty promises. "He plays the nationalist card all the time, and foreign military contractors are unpopular," said Stephen Biddle, senior fellow for defense policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, adding, "and this is a subject where the details matter a great deal."