Déjà Vu: Iraq Turns to Sunnis to Fight al-Qaeda

US urges Maliki to pass arms to militias
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 20, 2014 8:49 AM CST
Gunmen patrol in Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad, Iraq, Jan. 11, 2014.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – As Iraqi forces struggle to retake Anbar from al-Qaeda affiliated militants, the government is turning to the same tactic the US used to end the Iraq war: Allying itself with local Sunni tribal militias. The US is urging Nouri al-Maliki to pass the guns it's shipping him to the militants, and Maliki is obliging, while promising the militias permanent jobs, pensions, and death benefits for their trouble, the New York Times reports.

But the militias say the US made the same promises, only to have Maliki's government abandon them, and Sunni cooperation in general. They say they're fighting because they feel obligated to drive al-Qaeda from their cities. "This is our war," one tribal leader says, "and we don't want to be accused of working for the government." Tribesmen also tell the Washington Post that weapons shipments have been sluggish. "If the government was serious about wanting to support the tribes, they could clean up in three days," said one government official. "All [the tribes] need is fuel, ammunition, and medium-sized weapons." (Read more Iraq stories.)

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