Awakening Councils

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Iraq Fighters Ditch US, Rejoin al-Qaeda

Sunnis are quitting 'Awakening Councils' for al-Qaeda

(Newser) - A wave of Sunni fighters whose alliance with the United States has been critical in turning the insurgent tide in Iraq have rejoined al-Qaeda, or are acting as double agents, finds the New York Times . Though the number of defections is unclear, several hundred members of the Awakening Councils have... More »

Al-Qaeda in Iraq Plots Comeback as US Departs

Disgruntled Awakening forces offered raises to switch sides again

(Newser) - Al-Qaeda in Iraq is trying to make a comeback, by luring Awakening Council fighters to defect. Awakening leaders tell the Guardian that the terrorist group is offering to pay its fighters more than the $300 a month militia members get from the government. One says he believes 100 of his... More »

13 Assassinated Outside Baghdad

Al-Qaeda blamed for killing of Sunni politician and family

(Newser) - The killing of 13 men and boys west of Baghdad over the weekend has sparked fears of a fresh eruption in sectarian fighting. The victims, including a Sunni politician and several of his relatives, were snatched from their homes and shot by men in Iraqi army uniforms, according to authorities.... More »

With Paychecks Scarce, Iraqi Awakening Unravels

(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... More »

Smaller, Fiercer Insurgency Has Iraq Worried

(Newser) - As the US military prepares to withdraw from Iraq's cities, security officials in both countries have observed that a smaller but more lethal insurgency seems to be gaining ground. Several recent bombings, believed to be orchestrated by al-Qaeda in Iraq, have killed 123 people in Baghdad and elsewhere, while members... More »

In Iraq, US Allies Fight Each Other for Control

Arrest of Sunni leader fuels tension

(Newser) - A showdown this weekend between Iraqi security forces and Sunni fighters known as the Awakening, both US allies, could signal challenges facing Iraq as the US prepares to leave, the Washington Post reports. After Iraqi and US forces arrested an Awakening leader Saturday, Sunni fighters swarmed a Baghdad neighborhood. "... More »

Sunni Fighters Say Iraq Will Never Hire Them

(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.... More »

US Gives Iraq Control of Sunni Guards

Former insurgents will be given jobs in government

(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... More »

Pakistan to Arm Local Militias

Insurgency strategy, successful for US in Iraq, boosts American confidence in ally

(Newser) - Pakistan plans to give weapons to thousands of  tribal fighters along its border with Afghanistan, the Washington Post reports—a strategy that has helped the US in Iraq. The move to link the militias—called lashkars—to anti-Taliban efforts is a boost to US confidence in Pakistan’s military efforts,... More »

Forces Key to Iraq Security Lose Steam as US Hands Off

Shiite government isn't incorporating Sunni Sons of Iraq, or, worse, hunting them down

(Newser) - As Iraq's Shia-led government assumes greater control of security, US soldiers fear the sudden disintegration of the 54,000-strong Sunni force that had been key to improving conditions there, the Washington Post reports. The government has pledged to hire 20% of the so-called Sons of Iraq, but that still leaves... More »

Sectarian Arrests Threaten Iraq Security

Sunnis fear al-Qaeda resurgence as Shiite authorities detain Council leaders

(Newser) - Sunnis of the Awakening Council, which helped the US fight al-Qaeda in Iraq, are in hiding to avoid arrest by the Shia-led government, USA Today reports. Such political harassment could allow al-Qaeda to regain footing in volatile Diyala province and elsewhere, US officials say. Iraqi government members insist their actions... More »

Return to Iraq: A Fragile Peace That's Jarring

Troop surge, Awakening Councils have brought fragile peace

(Newser) - When Dexter Filkins left Baghdad in 2006, it was a city of shuttered buildings and fearful citizens, in a land that looked as though it would never recover from war. But, writes the war correspondent in the New York Times, “to return now is to be jarred in the... More »

Maliki Is US Pawn No Longer

Iraqi drifts away from US—and toward Iran

(Newser) - With just four months left on America’s UN mandate to police Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki is playing hardball. Once seen as an embattled US puppet, the Iraqi PM has consolidated his power, and is turning visibly away from his former backers in Washington, the Los Angeles Times reports. He’s... More »

Iraq Cracks Down on US-Allied Sunni Fighters

US commanders fear reversal of hard-fought peace

(Newser) - Iraq's Shiite-dominated government has begun a crackdown on groups of US-backed Sunni fighters, the New York Times reports. The government fears the fighters, part of what is called the Awakening movement, could be waiting to turn their guns on Shiites. In several parts of the country senior members have been... More »

US-Backed Militias Curb Iraqi Women's Rights

'Sahwa' stabilize areas but rule with medieval customs

(Newser) - Women's rights in Iraq are devolving under the rule of US-backed militias, Newsweek reports. These Sahwa or "Awakening" groups have stabilized regions, but rule with medieval laws and customs: In some areas, women are commonly kept at home, forced to wear headscarves, or are married into polygamous relationships, Newsweek... More »

US Air Strike Kills 6 Sunni Allies

Tensions already high with Awakening

(Newser) - US helicopters opened fire on two checkpoints manned by a pro-American group today, killing six members of the Sons of Iraq and injuring two civilians. The attack could exacerbate already strained tensions between the US and the Awakening Councils it employs, CNN reports. The US said that its helicopter opened... More »

Sunni Militias Threaten Strike Over Late Pay

Unrest among key US allies could affect joint security efforts

(Newser) - US-allied Sunni militias are threatening to go on strike over late pay. At least two of the 49 Awakening councils that  have been enlisted in the fight against al-Qaeda in Iraq have already done so, reports the Guardian, and the dispute over their $10-a-day payments threatens the partnership that has... More »

Baghdad Blast Kills 5 US Troops

Leader of Sunni Awakening killed in separate suicide attack

(Newser) - Five American troops are dead after a suicide bomber struck today in the Mansour district of Baghdad, the BBC reports. The soldiers were patrolling a busy shopping center when a young man wearing an explosive vest engaged them in conversation shortly before detonating, said a military spokesman. Three other service... More »

Female Bomber Kills Anti-Qaeda Sunni Sheik

Diyala-area Awakening leader hit in attack

(Newser) - A female suicide bomber assassinated a Sunni Awakening leader in his Diyala province home today, the AP reports, killing the sheik’s bodyguard, cousin, and 5-year-old niece along with him. The woman had come to see the sheik yesterday, saying her husband had been kidnapped and was begging for help.... More »

Sunni Fighters Growing Tired of US Neglect

Disputed killings, lack of support weakens plan to reduce violence

(Newser) - The mostly Sunni volunteer forces that have drastically improved Iraq’s security are losing patience with US handlers, the Washington Post reports. Desertions are under way in key provinces over lack of resources, political disagreements, and disputed accounts of US troops killing members of the so-called Sunni Awakening. “Now,... More »

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