Maliki Undercuts Awakening Movement

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 11 months ago

The U.S. forces have performed heroically, and many lives have been lost or irrevocably changed with wounds that will never heal. The U.S. has expended a significant part of the country’s treasure to free Iraq and start it on a course of freedom and democracy.  Certain lines of effort in the campaign have been clear and important throughout the history of the campaign for Iraq, one of which is the awakening movement (leading to the concerned citizens).

TCJ has made it clear from our initial coverage of the concerned citizens (later called the “Sons of Iraq”) that given the indigenous nature of much of the Sunni insurgency, settling disputes with the Sunnis was necessary (which was possible because they weren’t fighting for religious reasons like al Qaeda or the Taliban). Befriending those who were once shooting at you is a hard thing to do, but both the Sunnis and U.S. troops managed to do it because it was the right and smart thing to do. Combined with force projection by the U.S. Marines, it helped to win Anbar, and then subsequently Baghdad.

But Maliki may yet lose it all for us with his refusal to reconcile and recognize the legitimacy of the U.S. strategy.

The Shiite-dominated government in Iraq is driving out many leaders of Sunni citizen patrols, the groups of former insurgents who joined the American payroll and have been a major pillar in the decline in violence around the nation.

In restive Diyala Province, United States and Iraqi military officials say there were orders to arrest hundreds of members of what is known as the Awakening movement as part of large security operations by the Iraqi military. At least five senior members have been arrested there in recent weeks, leaders of the groups say.

West of Baghdad, former insurgent leaders contend that the Iraqi military is going after 650 Awakening members, many of whom have fled the once-violent area they had kept safe. While the crackdown appears to be focused on a relatively small number of leaders whom the Iraqi government considers the most dangerous, there are influential voices to dismantle the American backed movement entirely.

“The state cannot accept the Awakening,” said Sheik Jalaladeen al-Sagheer, a leading Shiite member of Parliament. “Their days are numbered.”

The government’s rising hostility toward the Awakening Councils amounts to a bet that its military, feeling increasingly strong, can provide security in former guerrilla strongholds without the support of these former Sunni fighters who once waged devastating attacks on United States and Iraqi targets. It also is occurring as Awakening members are eager to translate their influence and organization on the ground into political power.

But it is causing a rift with the American military, which contends that any significant diminution of the Awakening could result in renewed violence, jeopardizing the substantial security gains in the past year. United States commanders say that the practice, however unconventional, of paying the guerrillas has saved the lives of hundreds of American soldiers.

“If it is not handled properly, we could have a security issue,” said Brig. Gen. David Perkins, the senior military spokesman in Iraq. “You don’t want to give anybody a reason to turn back to Al Qaeda.” Many Sunni insurgents had previously been allied with Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia and other extremist groups.

Even before the new pressure from the government, many Awakening members were growing frustrated — and at an especially delicate time. United States and Iraqi negotiators have just completed a draft security agreement that next year, Iraqi officials say, would substantially pull American forces back from cities and towns to be replaced by Iraqi security forces.

Awakening members complain, with rising bitterness, that the government has been slow to make good on its promises to recruit tens of thousands of its members into those security forces. General Perkins said only 5,200 members had been recruited in a force of about 100,000.

“Some people from the government encouraged us to fight against Al Qaeda, but it seems that now that Al Qaeda is finished they don’t want us anymore,” said Abu Marouf, who, according to American officials, was a powerful guerrilla leader in the 1920s Revolutionary Brigade west of Baghdad. “So how can you say I am not betrayed?”

After he said he discovered his name on lists of 650 names that an Iraqi Army brigade was using to arrest Awakening members west of Baghdad, Abu Marouf fled south of Falluja. His men, he said, “sacrificed and fought against Al Qaeda, and now the government wants to catch them and arrest them.”

It actually goes further than that, this surreptitious undercutting of the awakening movement. They don’t intend for them to be engaged in the provision of security for the population at all. They want to strip them of their weapons.

The groups, known as Awakening Councils, Sons of Iraq and Popular Committees, have helped rout al-Qaida in some parts of Iraq. But Shiite leaders fear the Sunnis’ switch of allegiance is just a tactic, and that they could one day turn their weapons against the Shiite majority.

The U.S., which put many of the Sunni fighters on its payroll, has urged al-Maliki to incorporate them into his security forces, but the government has been slow to do so.

In a speech to Shiite tribal leaders in Baghdad on Saturday, al-Maliki mixed praise for the Sunni fighters with a warning. He said armed groups, alongside security forces, were tolerated for a limited period because their weapons were “aimed at the chests of the terrorists.”

“So they (the Sunni fighters) deserve our gratitude and the inclusion (into the security forces) because we adhere to a policy that there are no arms but the arms of the government,” he said.

One day turn their weapons against the Shi’ite majority? The best way to ensure that is to attempt disarmament. Does Maliki really believe that the Sunnis will turn in all of their weapons, or that the ISF will be able to find them all? As for al Qaeda, they are probably not a threat. The indigenous Sunnis are more than capable of inflicting immeasurable pain on the country without AQI if they so choose.

Maliki and the Shi’ite majority love to refer to the awakening movement as a “cancer,” or “criminals.” But The Captain’s Journal considers Maliki a criminal for his willingness to meet and politic with Iranian officials, and his tolerance of the SIIC. So regarding criminality, it really is a matter of perspective, and Maliki’s current position amounts to nothing more than “might makes right.”

But is Maliki really that mighty?  Maliki obviously has a large degree of confidence in the ISF and the idea that the Sunnis will willingly roll over. TCJ is not as confident. But regardless of the outcome, Maliki’s actions are immoral and thuggish, and if Iraq is still peaceful once the “Shi’ite majority” has accomplished this disarmament and imprisonment of the awakening, it will be in spite of and not because of Maliki’s actions. Maliki may yet prove himself to be the most stolid dunce and inept stooge on the planet.

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  • Warbucks

    When the central government takes over the sovereign responsibility of the individually sequestered neighborhoods comprising the Awakening established under the good General Petraeus, the return of authority and security for each neighborhood should be elevated into a high public profile as one among other measures of Iraqi government.

    A personal right to bear arms in Iraq will have little impact on the arms the people actually hold. Each man, right or wrong, decides for himself whether his right to protect his life and his family is derived as a god given right or a privilege extended by the state. We in the US by a significant margin believe it to be the former.

    The larger issue for the US is not the Awakening but how to measure success in general for the treasure we have expended and will expend in this noble undertaking? Our responses will depend on two likely inputs: (a) General Petraeus’s advice (b) To whom the advice is given.

    At the moment, everything we see and hear is geared the US election. This entire subject of the Awakening will be timelier to consider after the election is held.

  • Warbucks

    This is an important event just reported:

    Contents:
    1. Senior Iraqi Religious Leaders craft a joint Shia-Sunni Fatwa condemning violence

    Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East
    London House 100
    New Kings Road London, SW6 4LX
    office@frrme.org
    http://www.frrme.org
    +44 (0) 1428 722 744

    III Beirut Meeting
    We have just finished the main sessions of our meeting of Iraqi religious leaders in Beirut. As we have experienced in the past, the meeting was at times difficult. Present were the most senior Shia and Sunni Iraqi religious leaders. However, despite all the difficulties there was very real progress. It was wonderful that Bud McFarlane, the former US NSA, could join us. Bud has attended the last three conferences and is well known to the delegates. He has an extremely important role in these activities.
    There were two very significant conclusions from the meetings. Firstly there was a serious acknowledgement that security is dramatically improving in Iraq. We acknowledge that the Multi National Forces in Iraq and the Iraqi security forces are responsible for this progress. The reality is things are changing for the better.
    The second major development was that there was a very serious rejection of violence and of suicide bombings. There was also the acknowledgement that the main reason for this violence and terrorism is religious sectarianism. This can be seen in the declaration and Fatwa below.
    As the previous meetings have shown, the FRRME must remain dedicated to working with the religious leaders to ensure that follow up of the declaration is a reality. It would be wonderful if the Iraqi component of the follow up was dealt with by the religious leaders alone but we must keep working with them and enable them to see this through. The follow up will be threefold, requiring the religious leaders to engage with:
    1 The Iraqi Masses, especially through the religious
    2 The Iraqi Government
    3 The Coalition countries, especially the USA.
    Whilst it is intended that the next meeting will happen in November in Beirut it is very much hoped that we will then be able to take the delegation to the USA. For the first time all the delegates have agreed to this.
    Beirut Religious Declaration
    In the name of Allah the most merciful.
    A group of Iraqi Shia and Sunni Islamic scholars have gathered in Beirut from the 22nd to the 24th of August 2008 under the auspices of the FRRME. Through dialogue they have discussed what should be done following the considerable security improvements in Iraq. There is great urgency to meet the needs of the Iraqi people who have suffered from injustice, sectarianism, violence, the destruction of infrastructure and the squandering of the fortune of Iraq. They have reached the following recommendations:
    1. The violence is coming from extremism without any religious or moral foundation and this contravenes humanitarian principles and targets innocent people. We strongly condemn and denounce all terrorist activities and suicide bombings. The non violent resistance which is aiming to liberate Iraq is a legitimate right by international standards and the heavenly faith.
    2. We encourage the continuity of this dialogue and the serious cooperation between the leaders of Iraq to create solutions to be the foundations for the building of the state where security and justice can prevail between the people.
    3. We denounce and condemn all foreign interference in Iraq in every way. This interference is the main cause of the violence and the sectarian divide and is preventing the establishment of the Rule of Law in the state of Iraq.
    4. We seek to prevent Iraq from being a theatre for sectarian conflict.
    5. We encourage the investment in security improvements and want to see the Iraqi community prevented from becoming militant. We will continue to work very hard to develop democracy and activate the role of NGO’s in civil society to enhance the building of the state and its institutions.
    6. We see that as a priority we need to enable the return of all displaced and emigrated persons to their homes and encourage qualified Iraqi people to go back to Iraq assuring them of their civilian rights and we desire that they return back their estate and employment.
    7. We urgently require investigation of the cases of those in prison in Iraq particularly those in prisons controlled by the Coalition.
    Sheikh Ahmed Al Kubasi Senior Sunni leader
    Sheikh Abdul Latif Humayem Senior Sunni leader
    Ayatollah Abu Rageef Senior Shia leader based in Najaf
    Sheik Zuhari Senior Shia leader who is the chief religious advisor to the Prime Minister
    Organised by Canon Andrew PB White and the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East
    The Joint Sunni Shia Fatwa against all violence
    In the Islamic religion, it is knowledge that our merciful God has deigned Adam’s son more than other creations: See the Holy Qur’an God says, 70, Alisraa book.
    It is knowledge that everybody in Islam more than the other religions. It is totally prohibited from harming the spirit of all human beings: God says in the Holy Qur’an, 32, the table book.
    One of the speeches of the Prophet Mohammed prohibits the spilling of Muslim blood on a Muslim himself, and his family, thus suicide bombings are totally prohibited.
    Therefore religious and ethical duty calls us as Shia and Sunni religious leaders to announce that all killing must be stopped now, whatever the reasons and the cause and the motives between Muslims. And we must start the reconciliation and tolerance and make them the only way to solve the conflicts between the brothers in the country, as seen in the Holy Qur’an God says,9,Alhujarat book the ethical and religious duty is to call all Muslims in our country to take Al Sharia as a refuge to solve all the conflicts, and its invitation to all our people at this difficult time and after this hard experience to reject and forsake all violence, killing and provocation. We invite people of violence to come on side to support reconciliation and tolerance: God says from the Holy Quraan,65,the women book.
    Achieving peace, living together, under the rule of law is the demand on all the Iraqi people and it is the religious and ethical duty of everybody to abandon all violence.
    This is our Fatwa to all the Iraqi people and all Muslims. From our God we are told, and so have delivered this message, may our God be the witness on us.
    The Shia and Sunni Religious Leaders

    This message is sent to you because you are subscribed to the mailing list peacemaking@list.usip.org. To unsubscribe, E-mail to: peacemaking-off@list.usip.or g. To switch to the DIGEST mode, E-mail to peacemaking-digest@list.u sip.org. Send administrative queries to peacemaking-request@list .usip.org.

    United States Institute of Peace
    1200 17th Street NW — Washington, DC 20036
    (202) 457-1700 (phone) — (202) 429-6063 (fax)
    http://www.usip.org

  • http://www.captainsjournal.com/ Herschel Smith

    Oh, I think this runs much deeper than U.S. elections. The Sunnis don’t care much about that right now, and U.S. elections will have no affect on the subject in question. They have fought and helped to eject AQ. They have spent time and effort now manning security checkpoints, going on patrols with U.S. troops, and have given up the prospect of ever being the majority party or sect again in Iraq.

    For that, they are paid back by the majority Shi’ites with imprisonment, disarming, and being chased out of their homes and cities.

    The question is not whether the ISF will be able to maintain security if AQ decides to return. The Sunnis will protect themselves. That part of the campaign is over. The question is whether Iraq will descend into sectarian bloodshed on a scale heretofore not seen. The question is not Sunnis v. AQ. That’s finished. The question now is whether the Shi’ites will make any attempt at all at reconciliation and living together in the same country.

    If this happens (sectarian war), the U.S. will be powerless to stop it. Hence the question of whether Maliki is the biggest dolt on earth. I have always maintained that he is an idiot. He proves me right with every new day.

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  • Warbucks

    Slowly the microphone is being turned over to the voices of reason and nonviolence. The jointly signed Fatwa by both prominent Sunni and Shia clerics is a starting point but a significant starting point.

    The Fatwa will be used again and again among disputing tribes and as a guiding principal to deal also with the nonbeliever. It will be held up in all countries every time an act of terrorism occurs to make the creditable point that violent fundamentalism does not speak truth nor represent the sole of the people. Voices are gathering from the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia across the North African Continent to recapture the voice of non-violence into the mainstream of Islam.

    The unsung hero who truly deserves a Nobel Piece Award is a tough, stand-up Anglican Bishop, Andrew White. White does not mince words. He gets down in the trenches with his bullet proof vest and works the streets committing his life to acts and deeds to bridge these chasms. Both Sunni and Shia take measure of Bishop White and respond to his message positively in signing the Fatwa.

    One of the strongest arguments to not seek peace tribe-to-tribe was the lack of just such a spiritual directive. Anything seems reasonable in the prior state of spiritual chaos. New and unpredictable forces for peace are set in motion by the Fatwa.

    Who among us would want Maliki’s job? It seemed until now like a fool’s errand. If he is the idiot you assess and allows Iraq to slip into the nuclear abyss of an Iranian alliance it will trigger an elevated threat perceived by Israel. Maliki would indeed then prove himself to be the idiot you assess him to be. Sectarian violence within Iraq, will pale in comparison to a region-wide war that a threatening alliance with Iran might precipitate from a threatened Israel. The Fatwa will help in some small measure to prevent such wider regional chaos.

    On the other hand a time table for withdrawal has not yet been signed even as 2011 is a date put forward. Much can happen between now and then. The hope will be that before a sectarian slaughter ignites, that the voices of non-violence might become louder and stronger and integrated into the community with the support of its clerical leaders. It’s worth the try.


You are currently reading "Maliki Undercuts Awakening Movement", entry #1270 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Concerned Citizens,Iraq and was published August 25th, 2008 by Herschel Smith.

If you're interested in what else the The Captain's Journal has to say, you might try thumbing through the archives and visiting the main index, or; perhaps you would like to learn more about TCJ.

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