Disillusioned US Allies in Iraq Rejoin Insurgency

Defection Rising Since Sunni Election 'Win' Turned Into Shi'ite Govt

Having faced persecution since they were turned over from US to Iraqi governmental control, the Sunni militias known as the Awakening Councils have become increasingly angered by their treatment under the Maliki government, and are increasingly in outright revolt.

The groups were recruited away from the insurgency by the US with pledges of funding and eventual transition into the national security forces, but by and large they have not gotten those jobs and have remained in the position of quasi-legal militias, nominally allied with the government but increasingly distrusted, and distrusting. Now, officals say hundreds have left to rejoin the insurgency, and that thousands of those which stayed are collecting checks while serving insurgent interests.

Though the list of grievances is long, it seems the election results are what pushed many over the edge. Iraq’s Sunni voters overwhelmingly supported the secularist Iraqiya bloc of Ayad Allawi, and the bloc won a surprising plurality in the March election. Yet in the end, the first place finisher in the election seems destined to win up in the opposition, with the Shi’ite religious blocs forming a government without them.

And while Iraq already had a Shi’ite dominated government, Sunni blocs had minor but meaningful positions as Vice President and Parliamentary speaker. Despite doing far better in the election this time around, they may end up losing either or both positions, further cementing the opinion of many that the nation’s Sunni Arab minority has no political voice. Though it seems difficult to argue that point after the most recent vote, the more pressing issue is not political, but practical, as the insurgency may find itself with a growing number of experienced recruits, ones which were armed and funding by the US.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.