Friday, September 10, 2010

Interesting footnote to the preceding, Number 2

According to the very-valuable Institute for War & Peace Reporting,
[l]eaders of pro-government Sunni militias have accused Iraq’s national leaders of leaving them in poverty and vulnerable to violence. The warnings come as al-Qaeda employs a mix of intimidation and enticement to lure Sunni fighters to joint the insurgents. ...

Sahwa, also known as the Awakening Councils or Sons of Iraq, is a Sunni Arab tribal movement that from 2006 onwards, played a key role in battling insurgent groups. Many of its members were themselves former insurgents.

The US military used to pay each fighter 300 dollars a month, but Sahwa leaders complain that the handover of military control to the Shia-dominated Iraqi government has led to delays and non-payment. ...

Resentment among Sahwa members is growing, and is directed against both the US and the Iraqi government, which they accuse of failing to deliver on pledges to provide jobs or integrate them into the Iraqi security forces. ...

Al-Qaeda’s mounting influence and new tactics have made the situation more complex. The group has alternated between brutal attacks on Sahwa members and offers of forgiveness and wages if the militiamen switch sides and take up arms against the US and Baghdad.
Those attacks have intensified of late, leaving Sahwa members "feeling they have been hung out to dry," as the article puts it. According to Captain Ali al-Dulami of the Ramadi police,
many believe that Sahwa was just a shoe that the US and the government put on to step out of the quagmire the Sunni provinces were in when they were controlled by al-Qaeda.
While some government officials insist that that all Sahwa fighters are "receiving adequate help," Rifat Mohammad, head of the government’s National Reconciliation Committee in Anbar province, admitted that the pay "doesn't amount to ten per cent of what the US used to pay," that pay often was months late and that some "haven't been paid in six months."

Let's not forget that it was these increasingly-resentful fighters, lured by the prospect of good wages and fed up with the extremism of al-Qaeda (who they came to regard as every bit as much "foreigners" as they did the US troops) who, combined with Moqtada al-Sadr deciding to have his Mahdi militia stand down in favor of political campaigning, were really responsible for the shifting fortunes of the military situation in Iraq - not the "surge," which really didn't do a damn thing.

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