Monday, February 11, 2008
you say that you're my friend, but you're one of them:
The CLC (Sorry, "Sons of Iraq") power-grab story goes mainstream. Reports Alissa J. Rubin of the Times:
Conflicts between provincial governments and local Sunni Arab forces allied with the United States intensified this weekend in two provinces. The conflicts raise the prospect that the creation of the forces, known as Awakening Councils or Concerned Local Citizens, formed to fight extremists and bring calm to the country, might instead add to the unrest in Diyala and Anbar provinces.

In Diyala, northeast of Baghdad, 300 members of the local concerned citizens groups, many of whom are former insurgents, left the outposts, from which they start patrols and guard the surrounding areas.

The citizens groups said the walkout was a protest against the Shiite police commander for the province, whom they accuse of being sectarian and a member of the Mahdi Army, a militia affiliated with the Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, according to an official in the governor’s office who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The police commander, Staff. Gen. Ghanim al-Quraishi, has accused many in those citizens groups of continuing their past activities of killing and displacing Shiite families, and he has removed some of them from their posts and detained others.

The American military recruits and pays the groups to fight Islamic extremists. Although the groups have mostly seemed to be cooperating, more recently their behavior has been problematic.

In Anbar Province, tensions escalated between leaders of the local Awakening movement and the Iraqi Islamic Party, which as the sole major Sunni party to contest the most recent local elections won control of the provincial council. Party members said Saturday that they might bring a lawsuit against the Awakening leaders for saying they would oust the party from control; the leaders had previously called for a new election in the next few months in order to try to win seats on the council.

Wow, who could possibly have seen this coming? A militia force of ex-insurgents who hate the Shiite government trying a power grab after the U.S. gives it cash and weapons, and asks only "trust" in return? No, not the valiant forces of Sheikh Abdul Sattar! Never! They're bravely standing up against al-Qaeda, and in return they ask only that Iraq become a vibrant pro-American democracy! They'll give up their guns on general principle, just as soon as al-Qaeda is driven from Iraq and the 25-foot statue of George W. Bush goes up in Firdous Square! This could never come back to haunt us!
--Spencer Ackerman