A key overlooked fact about the much-ballyhooed “surge is working” argument in Iraq is that the U.S. military actually paid some former insurgents $10 a day to help American troops keep the peace in parts of the country. But what happens when that setup changes in volatile regions like Anbar?

The Washington Post:

Since its launch in Anbar in late 2006, the Awakening has spread to mostly Sunni-majority enclaves in Baghdad and other provinces as a means of Sunni self-defense. The U.S. military gave $300 monthly salaries to fighters, many of them former insurgents, to patrol areas and stop attacking American troops.

U.S. military officials have handed Awakening tribal leaders reconstruction contracts for their areas, building up their influence. They have assisted tribal operations against al-Qaeda in Iraq with airstrikes and other military and logistical support. On one day, Sweidawi [Sheik Jassim Muhammed al-Sweidawi] recalled how U.S. officers promised to pave the road that led to his house.

American commanders credit the movement as key to the decline in violence; some believe it played a more significant role than the U.S. “surge” offensive of 30,000 troops last year.

This month, the U.S. military handed over to the government control over about half the Awakening groups, now totaling roughly 100,000 mostly Sunni fighters. But the government, increasingly confident that it can provide security on its own, has refused to enroll most Awakening members into the police or army. In recent weeks, Iraqi security forces have arrested some Awakening leaders who were former insurgents, out of fear they will take up arms against the government.

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