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Betraying The Awakening Council - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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It’s assumed that the least members of the Awakening Council can expect for their sacrifices in fighting and expelling the Qaeda Organization, and their efforts in maintaining security in hell-like areas for the Americans and the Iraqi government, such as Fallujah, is recognition and inclusion in the ranks of Iraq’s security forces, making the matter an opportunity to achieve Iraqi reconciliation.

The survival of the Awakening Council’s Commanding Officer from a suicide car bomb assassination attempt a week ago in Kirkuk is just an example of what they face in their fight against the Al-Qaeda Organization.

However, what is happening is contrary to that. The Iraqi government is now forcing out and arresting elements of the Awakening Council and their leadership, despite the warnings of American military officials and their fear of an escalation of violence in Iraq.

However, it seems that al Maliki government and its affiliates have other things in mind. Jalal al Din al Saghir, a member of Iraq’s parliament and the Shia bloc stated that, “The State can not accept the men of the Awakening; their days are coming to an end.” While, Brigadier Nasser al Haiti, the commander of Al Muthanna brigade in the Iraqi army, goes further in describing the Awakening Council’s members as a, “cancer”, and that they must be “uprooted.”

Out of a hundred thousand Iraqi fighters who are members of the Awakening Council, only an approximate five thousand have been recruited by the Iraqi government into to the Army, despite the Council’s members being Iraqi, and having the upper hand in their fight against al Qaeda, while also maintaining stability in Iraq.

Acting deceitfully towards the elements of Council affirms the conviction that al Maliki’s government is not concerned with national reconciliation; otherwise, why would it use the cancer analogy and call for the Council’s uprooting?

If the Council’s leaders had decided to form militias to intimidate civilians, then there would have been just cause in stopping them and dividing their ranks. However, if the Awakening Councils are defending Iraqi unity and pursuing the terrorists’, then why are they being repressed instead of supported?

The transformation of the Awakening Council into a peaceful political force is naturally expected, since the democratic process is about collective participation under an umbrella of civil institutions. It is unnatural to deprive the Council from the right to peaceful political action and in the process suppressing, expelling and arresting its members.

Does the al Maliki government want to deal a blow to the fighting efforts against al Qaeda, or is it worried about seeing the emergence of a strong Sunni bloc in a similar way to Tehran’s worries about the rise of the Awakening Councils’ positive role in Iraq?

If suppressing the Awakening Council is what al Maliki wants, the Americans should be cautious. This simply constitutes a threat to their plans to stabilize the security situations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and is a dangerous message to whoever works for the stability of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Shiite parties’ deceit of the Awakening in Iraq is a message to whoever is keen on stabilizing security in Baghdad and Kabul; Beware of cooperating with the Americans, or you will share the Awakening Councils’ fate.

If al Maliki’s government is acting from a narrow sectarian approach against the idea of a new Iraq, both the Iraqis and Washington should be more aware. Furthermore, acting with deceit against the Awakening Councils will be a real blow to the efforts of stabilizing security in Iraq.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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