Western private security companies, whose services are much in need in Afghanistan by international donors, are anxious to find a way to operate in the country without falling foul of US and European sanctions against the Taliban. It wouldn’t do to be associated with entities that finance terrorism. According to our sources, France’s Amarante International, which operated the contract to protect European Union diplomats in Afghanistan, has recently been in talks to partner with TM4 .
For its EU contract, Amarante had to find a new partner in the wake of the difficulties of its former partner Gardaworld, which abandonned personnel and materiel in Afghanistan when the Taliban swept into Kabul in August. The company did however recently get back its licence to allow it to operate in the country once again.
Operating under Taliban’s rule
TM4, a security and defence company, has a major asset in holding a licence to operate from the Taliban interior ministry. The firm is headed by Mohammad Omar Safi, who served as the governor of the Kunduz region in 2014-15. During his time in office, he was neither a fervent ally of the Taliban, nor a supporter of Ashraf Ghani’s government. Before Ghani’s fall, TM4 worked for the Pentagon, NATO and the UN as well as US defence services compnaies such as PAE.
TM4 had a long alliance with Eiffel Services, a construction and logistics firm owned by US consultant Paul Harzbecker. As well as working for the US Army and the government, Eiffel Services worked in Afghanistan with Harzbecker’s other company Matrix MX for the likes of DynCorp and Lockheed Martin. It also worked with the Turkish cooperation agency TIKA, an entity that has big plans in Afghanistan, where it has cordial relations with the Taliban.
A means to finance and aid
Ready to make a low-key return to Afghanistan, the European Union has reoopened a delegation that will keep an eye on the Taliban’s activities and EU humanitarian aid as well as offer consular services. For the Taliban, accepting the return of some private security companies is seen as the price that must be paid for obtaining international finance and aid, since donors are not inclined to act in Afghanistan unless they know that the security situation is under control.
The guardian angel of UN agencies in Afghanistan, IDG Security, the private security firm founded by former Singapore police officer Ian Gordon, has also continued to operate in Kabul after the UN found a modus vivendi with the country’s new rulers .