Awakening movements in Iraq


Awakening movements in Iraq

Infobox War Faction
name=Awakening groups
war=the Iraq War


caption=
active=2005-present
leaders=Sheik Abdul Sattar Buzaigh al-Rishawi (assassinated)
Sheikh Ali Hatem Ali Sulaiman
Sheikh Abdul-Jabbar Abu Risha
Sheikhs of Al-Bu Nimr
Sheiks of Al-Bu Issa
clans=
headquarters=N/A
area=
strength=103,000 in July 2008cite news
url=http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/23/world/middleeast/23awakening.html?pagewanted=all
title=Iraq Index Tracking Variables of Reconstruction & Security in Post-Saddam Iraq
first=Michael E.
last=O’Hanlon
coauthors=Jason H. Campbell
publisher=Brookings
date=2008-08-31
accessdate=2008-08-31
] |partof=
previous=
next=
allies=Multinational force in Iraq
Iraqi Army and police
opponents=Al Qaeda in Iraq

battles=Iraq War

Awakening movements in Iraq are coalitions between tribal Sheikhs in a particular province in Iraq that unite to maintain security. The movement started among Sunni tribes in Anbar Province in 2005 to become an ad-hoc armed force across the country in less than a year.

The awakening fighters in Iraq have been credited by some analysts with reducing levels of violence in the areas in which they operate; [ [http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2008/10/200810151630737451.html Iraq government to pay Sunni groups] – Al Jazeera] however, the rapid growth of the groups, whose salaries were initially paid for completely by the US military, has also led to concerns about some members' insurgent pasts fighting against coalition forces and to concerns about infiltration by al-Qaeda. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has warned the US-armed 'concerned local citizens' are an armed Sunni opposition in the making, and has argued that such groups should be under the command of the Iraqi Army or police. [ [http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5iMzKGlyT_ahqRjtyXrAUrKIQLncA US buys 'concerned citizens' in Iraq, but at what price?] ]

The Iraqi Defense Ministry has said that it plans to disband the Sunni Awakening groups so they do not become a separate military force. The Iraqi government plans to absorb approximately 25% of the Awakening groups in to security service or the military, but analysts fear what will happen to the remaining 75% of them. The US is urging the Iraqi government to rapidly integrate the fighters into the national security forces. Some experts warn there are similarities between the awakening councils and armed groups in past conflicts that were used for short-term military gains but ended up being roadblocks for state building.

Other names

Awakening movements in Iraq are also referred to as:
*"Mercenaries" (Maliki aide, [ [http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5itpKoLcRTLxc8P22OJrd7ZIs440QD91JUGO81 Program in Iraq against al-Qaida faces uncertainty] ] al-Qa'eda [ [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1584898/Iraqi-neighbours-rise-up-against-al-Qa'eda.html Iraqi neighbours rise up against al-Qa'eda] ] )
*U.S. Military/Government of Iraq:
**"Concerned Local Citizens" - CLC [ [http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=47783 "DefenseLink": Concerned Local Citizens Vastly Improve Security in Iraq’s Diyala Province] ]
**"Sons of Iraq" - SOIZ [http://www.usnews.com/blogs/news-desk/2008/2/5/the-sons-of-iraq-keep-the-peace.html "U.S. News and World Report": The 'Sons of Iraq' Keep the Peace] ]
**"Very Worried Iraqis" [http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=93267648 "NPR": Shiite Power Struggle Is Iraq's 'Last Battle'] ]
*"Sahwa" militia [ [http://www.france24.com/en/20080701-iraq-lucas-menget-al-anbar-suicide-attack-report Sandstorms and suicide bombers] ]
*"Former Sunni insurgents" - CFR Senior Fellow Steven Simon [ [http://www.cfr.org/publication/16088/role_of_the_sons_of_iraq_in_improving_security.html CFR: The Role of the ‘Sons of Iraq’ in Improving Security] ]

History

In 2005, the Abu Mahals, a tribe that smuggled across the Syrian border, was being forced out of their territory by a tribe allied with Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. The tribe proposed an alliance with the United States force in November 2005 and began receiving weapons and training.cite news|url=http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/world/iraq/20070325-1237-fightingbackinanbar.html|title=Iraq's Sunni sheiks join Americans to fight insurgency|publisher=SignOnSanDiego|date=2007-03-25|accessdate=2007-12-26] In September 2006, the leader of the movement, Sheik Abdul Sattar Buzaigh al-Rishawi, formed the Anbar Awakening Council also called "Anbar Awakening" to counter the influence of Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Sheik Abdul Sattar Buzaigh al-Rishawi was assassinated by a suicide bombing in September 2007. [ cite news
url= http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6993211.stm
title= Iraqi insurgents kill key US ally
publisher= BBC News
date= 2007-09-13
accessdate=
] His brother, Abdul-Jabbar Abu Risha, took over as leader, but so far has been unable to unite the various awakening militias.

In October 2008, the Iraqi government took over from the American military the responsibility for paying 54,000 members of the Awakening councils. [ [http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2008/10/200810151630737451.html Iraq government to pay Sunni groups] – Al Jazeera] Many of the Awakening fighters put little trust in the Iraqi government to help employ them. [ [http://abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=5926340&page=1 "ABCNews": Iraq's Sunni's Fear Life Without U.S. Oversight] ] "I consider the transfer an act of betrayal by the U.S. Army," said one Awakening member in response to the transfer. [ [http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5hwK_CSpBxsNuVUEaDuOwmSSCiqGwD93HS0CG0 "AP": "Iraq: government takes command of Sons of Iraq"] ]

Work in Iraq

The groups are paid by the American military and the Iraqi government to lay down their arms against coalition forces, patrol neighborhoods, and to fight against other Sunni insurgents. The US military says the groups help it target Al-Qaeda in Iraq more precisely and avoid collateral damage. [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/07/AR2008020703854.html?hpid=topnews Shift in Tactics Aims to Revive Struggling Insurgency] ] "The Washington Post" writes the awakening groups have caused al-Qaeda in Iraq to soften its tactics in an effort to regain public support.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq has condemned the groups for fighting insurgents and for standing by the “filthy crusaders”. [http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/29/world/middleeast/29iraq.html?ref=middleeast Group Claims Responsibility for Iraq Attack] ] Some members of the awakening groups are former insurgents, and some awakening members have been killed by former awakening members in suicide bombings. Sheiks who work with the awakening movement also frequently face killings which originate from outside the movement. [ [http://www.sacbee.com/111/story/1043498.html Iraq explosion kills U.S. soldiers, Sunni allies in Anbar province] ]

The Government Accountability Office, the audit arm of the United States Congress, has warned that the groups have still "not reconciled with the Iraqi government" and that the potential remains for further infiltration by insurgents. [ [http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d08837.pdf US Government Accountability Office (June 2008): Securing, Stabilizing, and Rebuilding Iraq] ]

Disbanding

The Iraqi Defense Ministry has said that it plans to disband the Awakening groups so they do not become a separate military force. "We completely, absolutely reject the Awakening becoming a third military organization," Iraqi Defense Minister Abdul-Qadir al-Obaidi said. Al-Obaidi said the groups also wouldn't be allowed to have any infrastructure, such as a headquarters building, that would give them long-term legitimacy. [http://www.statesman.com/news/content/news/stories/world/12/23/1223iraqdaily.html Iraq pledges to disband Sunni volunteer militias] ]

The Iraqi government has pledged to absorb about a quarter of the men into the Shiite dominated military and security services, and to provide vocational training to the rest of the members of the Awakening groups. The Iraqi Interior Ministry has agreed to hire about 7,000 men on temporary contracts and plans to hire an additional 3,000; however, the ministry hasn't specified the contract length or specific positions for the men to fill. [http://www.statesman.com/news/content/news/stories/world/12/23/1223iraqdaily.html Iraq pledges to disband Sunni volunteer militias] ] Deborah D. Avant, director of international studies at the University of California-Irvine, said there are ominous similarities between the awakening councils and armed groups in past conflicts that were used for short-term military gains but ended up being roadblocks for state building. [http://www.usatoday.com/news/topstories/2007-12-23-1748979433_x.htm Sunni fighters need political role] ]

According to Ramzy Mardini, an Iraq expert at The Jamestown Foundation, "the rise of the Awakening councils may risk reigniting the Jaysh al-Mahdi". On February 22, 2008, Muqtada al-Sadr announced that he will extend his ceasefire on his Jaysh al-Mahdi militia. [http://www.jamestown.org/terrorism/news/article.php?articleid=2373988 Uncertainty Facing Iraq’s Awakening Movement Puts U.S. Strategy at Risk] ] But according to Mardini, the uncertainty facing the Awakening movement's status may cut that ceasefire short. Mardini suggests that if the movement's demands are not satisfied by Iraq's central government, the U.S. 'surge' strategy is at risk for failing, "even to the point of reverting back to pre-surge status". Those demands include that Awakening fighters be incorporated into Iraq's security forces, having permanent positions and payrolls.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki recently offered 3,000 of the 100,000 Sons of Iraq members jobs in Diyala in hopes that it would lead to information about militants in the area. [ [http://www.metimes.com/Security/2008/08/06/sons_of_iraq_join_diyala_offensive/f4db/ Sons of Iraq join Diyala offensive] ] Staff Sgt. Thomas Keller has continued to pay the group to ensure they do not return to the insurgency. [ [http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121814978254822277.html?mod=googlenews_wsj U.S. Is Still on Hook for Paying Sunnis in Iraqi Security Forces] ] Lt. Col. Matt Elledge, commander of the 1-22 infantry battalion of the First Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, has warned that the United States must remain leery in working with officials from the group. [ [http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/08/07/MN07125IP1.DTL Iraq, flush with cash, adrift in spending it] ] Capt. Emiliano Tellado, a member of the 2-4 Infantry Battalion, lamented that one Sons of Iraq leader once associated with al-Qaida in Iraq had to be detained because he might still be active with the group. [ [http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2008/08/06/sons_of_iraq/ "We were basically hiring terrorists"] ]

ee also


* Al Qaeda in Iraq
* Abdul Sattar Buzaigh al-Rishawi
* Civil war in Iraq
* Iraq War troop surge of 2007
* 2005 in Iraq
* 2006 in Iraq
* 2007 in Iraq
* 2008 in Iraq

References

External links

* [http://www.weeklystandard.com/weblogs/TWSFP/2007/04/iraq_report_anbar_awakening_sp.asp "The Weekly Standard": Iraq Report: Anbar Awakening Spreads, Petraeus Connects Iran to Attacks in Iraq]
* [http://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/sons-iraq-and-awakening-forces "Institute for the Study of War": Backgrounder: Sons of Iraq and Awakening Forces]
* [http://www.michaeltotten.com/archives/001514.html Michael Totten: The Battle of Ramadi]
* [http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2007/12/the_awakening_al_qae.php The Long War Journal: The Awakening, al Qaeda clash in Iraq]
* [http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/01/08/iraq.main/index.html CNN: Iraqi Awakening Council members kidnapped, killed]
* [http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2007/10/29/MNUCT2H61.DTL "SFGate": 10 tribal leaders aiding U.S. abducted]
* [http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/03/10/iraq.main/index.html Teen female bomber tricks, kills Iraqi CLC sheik]
* [http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2007/08/anatomy-of-a-tribal-revolt Kilcullen, David. "Anatomy of a Tribal Revolt." Small Wars Journal. 8/29/2007.] - * [http://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/sons-iraq-and-awakening-forces Ahmed, Farook. "Backgrounder #23: Sons of Iraq and Awakening Forces." Institute for the Study of War. 2/21/2008.]


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