THE AWAKENING ON STRIKE….The Guardian reports that the Sunni Awakening councils in Iraq (aka Sahwa councils), which have been instrumental in reducing violence over the past year, are getting increasingly agitated over the lack of genuine reconciliation with the Shiite central government:
The success of the US “surge” strategy in Iraq may be under threat as Sunni militia employed by the US to fight al-Qaida are warning of a national strike because they are not being paid regularly.
….A telephone survey by GuardianFilms for Channel 4 News reveals that out of 49 Sahwa councils four with more than 1,400 men have already quit, 38 are threatening to go on strike and two already have.
….In Dora, a southern suburb of Baghdad, the leaders of a Sahwa group of 2,400 men said they were considering strike action because none of the 2,000 applicants they had put forward for jobs with the police and military had been accepted. The Shia-dominated government of Nouri al-Maliki has found jobs for only a handful of the Sahwa fighters.
“We need to get all the Sahwas in the country together and organise a national strike,” said Ahah al-Zubadi, leader of 35 Sahwa councils, the largest group in Iraq. “When the areas started to cool down and the situation began to get better the Americans really cooled to us.”
It’s almost impossible to tell whether this is for real or if it’s just more bluster. Maybe it’s just bluster. But there’s no question that recently we’ve been hearing this sentiment a lot more than we used to, and it’s not hard to understand why. The Sahwa councils had their own self-interest in mind when they originally teamed up with the American military to fight al-Qaeda in Iraq, and that self-interest is still operative: they want security, they want protection, and they want jobs. The minute they feel like these things aren’t in the cards, the alliance will be over. And right now, those things don’t much look like they’re in the cards.