Awakening Council members search a man at a vehicle checkpoint in the Azamiyah area of Baghdad in March.
The U.S. troops that remain in Iraq after last summer’s withdrawal face some new challenges from within Iraqi factions, as some previously American-allied members of the Awakening Councils are apparently joining the ranks of insurgent groups such as al-Qaida in Mesopotamia, according to The New York Times. —KA
The New York Times:
Although there are no firm figures, security and political officials say hundreds of the well-disciplined fighters—many of whom have gained extensive knowledge about the American military—appear to have rejoined Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. Beyond that, officials say that even many of the Awakening fighters still on the Iraqi government payroll, possibly thousands of them, covertly aid the insurgency.
The defections have been driven in part by frustration with the Shiite-led government, which Awakening members say is intent on destroying them, as well as by pressure from Al Qaeda. The exodus has accelerated since Iraq’s inconclusive parliamentary elections in March, which have left Sunnis uncertain of retaining what little political influence they have and which appear to have provided Al Qaeda new opportunities to lure back fighters.
The Awakening members’ switch in loyalties poses a new threat to Iraq’s tenuous social and political balance during the country’s ongoing political crisis and as the United States military prepares to withdraw next year.