Awakening on the Wrong Side of the Bed

The Awakening movement isn’t very happy these days. The U.S. has been paying Sunni militants to turn their guns from American soldiers to al-Qaida foreign fighters, a program that has been celebrated for reducing violence in Iraq and is now falling apart. In the words of one Sunni leader who spoke to NPR, “The Americans completely abandoned us.”


Iraq’s government promised to keep paying the men until they can find them jobs in Iraq’s security forces or ministries. So far, only 5 percent of the Sunni paramilitary forces have been incorporated into the police and army. And many of the paramilitaries say they have not been paid in months.

Mustafa Kamel, the Sons of Iraq leader in the Baghdad neighborhood of Dora, says the government has not kept its word.

“Honestly, we’re worried about the future. If the government doesn’t pay us and incorporate us into the security services, I swear, bad things will start happening here a month from now,” he says. “We won’t attack them, but the situation will deteriorate again.”

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