Tuesday, January 08, 2008

More on the troubles of the Awakenings

From Al-Hayat, on the recent attacks on the Awakening Councils:
Observers in Baghdad say the spontaneous way in which these Awakening organizations were formed, and the big results they obtained in a short space of time has confronted them with political difficulties beyond their capacity [to deal with], and that is what they are now suddenly in the midst of.

Political parties and persons have accused them of being infiltrated sometimes by AlQaeda, and sometimes by Baathists, while the government, for its part, continues to warn that they could be turned into militias outside the law, bringing the issue of sectarian conflict back to square one.

The Americans credit them with a decline in violence, particularly sectarian, and with reining in the influence of AlQaeda in their traditional strongholds in the Sunni cities, but very quickly military and political experts warned that the diminution in violence could be temporary and not permanent, if this isn't accompanied by decisive political developments.
The journalist says the basic dynamics are still the same: AlQaeda retains its ability to adapt, and the Awakenings continue to stress that others aren't doing the job. The journalist puts it this way: Omar al-Baghdadi in effect acknowledged the inroads that these organization have made in the latter part of 2007 when he announced last month the special campaign for attacking them, but "those close to the armed groups say, in the light of these recent attacks, that AlQaeda still has the ability to adjust and change its strategy".
Leaders of the Awakening Councils say they represent the first line of defence against AlQaeda ...in the face of the lack of provision [by others] of military or financial or morale requirements for facing this kind of a challenge.
By way of illustrating the political and sectarian crossfire their quick success risks putting them in, the journalist quotes the leaders of three other Awakening councils, one of them a former Baathist officer, who accused the Maliki government of "having a hand in the elimination" of some of the Awakening people. Another accused the Mahdi Army of being involved in this "on the basis of religious fatwas" (not elaborated on). And a third blamed the Iranian Quds Brigades.

(Harith al-Dhari, for his part, in an Al-Hayat interview, puts the picture this way: When there was money in Al-Qaeda, people in need of money joined AlQaeda; now that there is money in the Awakenings, people in need of money join them. While the Iraq-weakening aims of the forces behind all of this are not in question for Al-Dhari, this latest take seems to leave the specific political upshot of the Awakenings indeterminate).


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