Sunni Fighters Say Iraq Will Never Hire Them

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 23, 2009 7:45 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) – The US turned over tens of thousands of Sunni fighters to Baghdad this weekend to take government jobs and mend fences with ruling Shiites, but many Sunnis are skeptical, the New York Times reports. After helping tame al-Qaeda in Iraq, the militiamen say few jobs are being offered in return. “Until now, promises are all we’ve gotten,” said one, who added that al-Qaeda pays "generously."

With oil prices dropping, Iraq may be unable to hire 84,000 Sunnis for security and civilian jobs. Only 5% have gotten work thus far, and they complain of missed paychecks and comrades being arrested, despite amnesty vows. Sunni complaints are nothing new, however, and may be considered a bargaining chip—although the threat to rejoin insurgent groups is growing. "There are problems,” a US official said, “but it’s not a crisis yet.”