Iraqi government forces swept through the slums of central Baghdad today, capturing en masse the Awakening Council forces that yesterday launched an uprising in the Fadhil neighborhood.
The Sunni Awakening forces had been rallying against the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki since early last week, angry that the government hadn’t followed through on its previous promises of employment after being turned over to their direct control. Many in the Shi’ite-controlled government distrust the militia members, though both sides have been heavily backed by the US.
But on Saturday, government forces arrested Awakening leader Adel Mashhadani on the basis of killings that happened “a long time ago,” sparking the violent gunbattle. The US praised the detention, and at the time insisted that Awakening members were not being targeted. That seems to no longer be the case, however, and appears to leave America’s Sunni and Shi’ite allies in Iraq at each others’ throats, at a time when attacks are raising fears of a return to the heavy sectarian clashes of the past several years.