US Pushes for Sunni-Shiite Reconciliation

New strategy aims to integrate 'concerned' locals into government
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 14, 2008 2:59 PM CST
A member of the Concerned Local Citizens Group is seen in Quarghuli Village, about 12 miles south of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2007. Lt. Gen. Odierno paid a visit to the village to thank the...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Convincing Iraq’s Shiite-dominated government to embrace the former Sunni insurgents known as “Concerned Local Citizens” is the key priority for US leaders in Iraq, the LA Times reports. The US-funded CLCs have been vital to Iraq’s improving security, patrolling areas without a regular police presence. But Iraqi leaders are resisting, fearing the creation of a rival Sunni army.

The 70,000 CLCs are too numerous to integrate into the Iraqi police. To compensate, many are being trained to fill civil service roles instead. But if reconciliation fails, US military leaders fear CLCs could coalesce into an army and cause civil war. "One of our biggest risks are CLCs and which way they'll go," said an aide to the US commander in Iraq.