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[casi-analysis] Role of mercenaries in Iraq 'reconstruction' one of many concerns for shareholders at British company AMEC's AGM

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18th May 2004
Voices in the Wilderness UK [A]
tel. 0845 458 2564, 07952 354 722


Concerns are increasing about British construction giant AMEC and the
role played by mercenaries in the company's "reconstruction" work in
Iraq. This is just one of the disturbing issues that shareholders would
be wise to raise at its Annual General Meeting this Wednesday. In
particular there are questions around which "security" firms AMEC will
be employing; how much they will be spending on "security"; and who will
be held responsible if and when these employees kill Iraqis.

According to recent reports AMEC has roughly 100-150 people in Iraq and
is likely to employ three times that number of "security personnel" [B].
There are currently an estimated 15,000 private bodyguards operating
inside Iraq, including Chilean commandos trained under Pinochet and
former soldiers from Apartheid South Africa [C]. Private security
companies have also been implicated in the recent Abu Ghraib torture
scandal [D].

Earlier this year a joint venture between AMEC - which was convicted of
fraud on three federal construction projects and banned from U.S.
government work during 2002 [E] - and the US-based Fluor corporation was
awarded $1.6 bn worth of contracts for work in Iraq in the sewage,
electricity and water sectors following hard lobbying by the British

It is expected that shareholders will want to find out how much of this
$1.6bn will reach Iraqis or whether the AMEC-Fluor contracts prohibit
most Iraqi companies from participating in this "reconstruction". It
would also be in shareholder's interests to try and obtain a commitment
from AMEC not to purchase any Iraqi businesses in the future, following
the illegal privatisation measures imposed by the US last year [F].

Speaking for Voices UK, Gareth Evans said: "AMEC seems to have few
qualms about working in an illegally invaded - and now militarily
occupied - Iraq under the barrels of US and British guns, so it is no
surprise that they will also be hiring private mercenaries to protect
their operations there. And as the occupation continues and becomes ever
more bloody, one has to ask how much in the way of genuine
reconstruction can actually take place under such circumstances or is
this just another case of a large corporation making a killing out of

AMEC's AGM is taking place on Wednesday 19 May at the Radisson Hotel,
Portman Square, London W1

[A] Voices in the Wilderness UK has been campaigning on British policy
towards Iraq since 1998. See for more info.
[B] Observer, 2 May
[C] Guardian, 17 April; Guardian, 5 April; New York Times, 29 April
[D] Guardian, 17 May
Emma Sangster

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