As Afghanistan Frays, Blackwater Founder Erik Prince Is Everywhere | News Sponsored by TrumpShop.net

Oct 04, 18
As Afghanistan Frays, Blackwater Founder Erik Prince Is Everywhere | News Sponsored by TrumpShop.net

KABUL, Afghanistan — A new crop of senior American officials in Afghanistan has been racing to contain a dual crisis on the battlefield and in a potentially explosive election dispute. But it is a different American figure — the mercenary executive Erik D. Prince — who has been the talk of Kabul these days. More than a year after first laying out his plan to President Trump to privatize the American war in Afghanistan with a cadre of contractors — and a private air force — Mr. Prince, the founder of the Blackwater security firm that became infamous for killing civilians in Iraq, has seemingly been everywhere. And as he has made his sales pitch directly to a host of influential Afghans, he has frequently been introduced as an adviser to Mr. Trump himself. Mr. Prince is pushing his plan at a particularly vulnerable time for the country. Afghan security forces are dying at a record number of 30 to 40 a day largely in a defensive posture against a Taliban that has gained territory. The government is beset by repeated political crises as parliamentary elections, delayed for three years, are scheduled for next month. Presidential elections are set for April. Interviews with a half-dozen political figures who have met Mr. Prince in recent months — as well as an interview with Mr. Prince by The New York Times during his trip to Kabul in September — reveal an executive determined to sell a vision of how his contractors could offer an official military withdrawal from Afghanistan to a war-weary American public and president. Now, those officials say, he has increasingly found a receptive audience among Afghanistan’s power brokers, meeting everyone from lowly militia commanders, to former cabinet officials and entrenched regional strongmen, to several potential presidential candidates. What most of those Afghans have in common is a desire to see President Ashraf Ghani gone. And Mr. Prince’s lobbying circuit, including multiple visits to Kabul, Washington and the United Arab Emirates, has made him increasingly unwelcome with Mr. Ghani, who has rejected repeated requests to meet with Mr. Prince. Some in the government even tried to block Mr. Prince’s visa, according to Afghan officials and those close to Mr. Prince. Several officials close to Mr. Ghani say they see Mr. Prince’s plan not only as unviable amid a complex conflict and peace effort with the Taliban, bu

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