With Paychecks Scarce, Iraqi Awakening Unravels

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted May 9, 2009 10:47 AM CDT
Awakening Council members search a man at a vehicle checkpoint in the Azamiyah area of north Baghdad.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The imminent withdrawal of US troops and the lack of funds to keep Sunni Awakening members on the payroll has led to rising violence there, the Wall Street Journal reports. The steep decline in oil revenues has left the Iraqi government broke, and former insurgents hired by the US to provide security and do clean-up and rebuilding haven’t been paid in months. Their ranks are thinning. “Who knows what they're doing with their time,” one leader said.

“If some individuals decide to fight the government again,” the leader continued, “no one is going to interfere.” A government spokesman agreed that militants are “testing the Iraqi forces. But we will show them.” US programs, like job creation in violence-prone areas, were supposed to continue after the withdrawal, but with oil at $40 a barrel that seems unlikely. “We bought a lot of security with these jobs,” an Army major said. “Now the city just can't afford to pay these guys.”