By Leila Fadel
August 20, 2008
BAGHDAD — A key pillar of the U.S. strategy to pacify Iraq is in danger of collapsing because the Iraqi government is failing to absorb tens of thousands of former Sunni Muslim insurgents who’d joined U.S.-allied militia groups into the country’s security forces.
American officials have credited the militias, known as the Sons of Iraq or Awakening councils, with undercutting support for the group al Qaida in Iraq and bringing peace to large swaths of the country, including Anbar province and parts of Baghdad. Under the program, the United States pays each militia member a stipend of about $300 a month and promised that they’d get jobs with the Iraqi government.
But the Iraqi government, which is led by Shiite Muslims, has brought only a relative handful of the more than 100,000 militia members into the security forces. Now officials are making it clear that they don’t intend to include most of the rest.
“We cannot stand them, and we detained many of them recently,” said one senior Iraqi commander in Baghdad, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the issue. “Many of them were part of al Qaida despite the fact that many of them are helping us to fight al Qaida.”
McClatchy Washington Bureau | 08/20/2008 | Key U.S. Iraq strategy in danger of collapse.
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