American convoys began emerging from the Green Zone again today, protected by Blackwater USA guards, just four days after an Iraqi ban on the private security firm halted all such travel. Iraqis remain outraged over the deaths of 11 civilians in a Blackwater shooting incident Sunday, but a Maliki aide told the AP that Iraq’s government could do little to expel Blackwater from the country.
The US Embassy says it consulted the Iraqi government before reinstating Blackwater and promised to limit travel to essential missions. Since the ban, US officials have been able to travel only by helicopter. Iraqi reports say Blackwater “starting shooting randomly” into a crowded square on Sunday when mortar rounds landed nearby. A US/Iraqi investigation is ongoing, and Blackwater denies wrongdoing. (Read more Iraq stories.)