Reuters reports that the Iraqi government had submitted a bill to parliament that would impose new restrictions on security firms to reduce the number of contractors and their private arsenals.
"What the Interior Ministry worries about is that there is a giant army of these companies on the streets with their weapons," Deputy Interior Minister Adnan al-Asadi (pictured) told the agency. "What we are afraid of is that there are undeclared companies, unrevealed numbers of contractors who are working secretly and maybe weapons used by these companies that we have not discovered yet."
The 109 security companies registered in Iraq employ over 36,000 contractors, more than half of them foreigners, drawn from the United States, Britain, South Africa, Arab states and other countries.
More onerous bureaucracy and increased insurance requirements may be used to force smaller companies out of business.
Many foreign security contractors have already complained of long delays in obtaining visas, licenses and permits to operate in Iraq.
"What we are afraid of is the intelligence side", the minister added. "Some of these companies have agendas and are connected with countries, and these countries are using them," Asadi said. "Actually some of them (countries) are using the mercenaries to cause instability and disorder in this country."