US Gives Iraq Control of Sunni Guards

Former insurgents will be given jobs in government
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 21, 2009 5:23 PM CDT
Iraqi soldiers pay salaries to Awakening Council members, also known as Sons of Iraq, at an army base in Taji, north of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008.   (AP Photo/Loay Hameed)
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(Newser) – Baghdad took control today of 90% of the former insurgents employed by the US military to combat al-Qaeda, Reuters reports. Turnover of the roughly 84,000 “Awakening Council" Sunnis, who were paid about $300 a month to patrol neighborhoods, will test Iraqi reconciliation as the US prepares to withdraw combat troops by August 2010.

Some feared authorities would retaliate against their onetime enemies, but “a lot of concerns have not come to fruition,” said a US official. Baghdad will place a fifth of the members in security jobs, providing the rest with training or civilian work. “It'll take 6 to 7 months to complete the job transition,” the official said, “and I predict success.”