RECONCILIATION WATCH….Compare and contrast. The Washington Post reports that the Iraqi government is resisting efforts to organize Sunni security forces:
Although U.S. commanders stress that the coalition is not forming a Sunni militia, Iraqi leaders complain that paying the fighters is tantamount to arming them. The Iraqi government so far has balked at permanently hiring large numbers of the volunteers, resisting pressure from U.S. commanders to lift caps on the number of police in Anbar and Diyala provinces. Only about 1,600 of the volunteers have been trained and sworn in to the Iraqi security forces, primarily with the police.
But Juan Cole reports that recruiting Shiite security forces is another matter entirely:
Al-Zaman reports in Arabic that PM al-Maliki has taken the controversial decision to recruit 18,000 members of Shiite militias into the Iraqi government security forces. (In fact, the Iraqi military has de facto been recruiting a lot of Shiite militiamen anyway).
You have to wonder if this step is intended to offset the American military’s pressure to recruit Sunni tribesmen and neighborhood volunteers into the security forces.
One might wonder indeed. Cole suggests that something needs to be done with Shiite militiamen, but a better idea would be to put them in “civilian desk jobs in some department where they can’t do much mischief.” Unfortunately, that would likely defeat the whole purpose of recruiting them, wouldn’t it?