When we say that there is a betrayal of the Awakening Councils this is not an exaggeration, but rather a fact that is embodied by what is happening on the ground in Iraq today.
The Awakening Councils have become an easy target for the Al Qaeda organization and other militias, in addition to being targeted by the Iraqi government.
On 24 August 2008 I wrote an article entitled “Betraying the Awakening Council?” which angered who it angered at the time. Then there were those who were angered by my article “Who killed the Brave Sheikh?” which was published on 15 September 2007 following the assassination of Sheik Abdul Sattar Abu Risha [former leader of the Anbar Awakening Council]. This assassination took place following Abu Risha’s famous meeting with former President George Bush during the former President’s visit to Iraq in which he met with Abu Risha alone, unaccompanied by any other Iraqi leaders. And so the Awakening Councils [in Iraq] have been continuously targeted.
Today we are witnessing a systematic targeting of the Awakening Councils and its leadership, from assassinations to arrests. The most recent example of this [targeting] was uncovered by “The New York Times” which revealed that Sheik Maher Sarhan Abbas – an Awakening Council leader- has been secretly detained for nearly 29 days. According to his family, the security officers who arrested him informed them that the arrest was ordered by the Prime Minister’s office.
When we say betrayal we do so for a simple reason, because the members of the Awakening Councils – who number nearly 120,000 – have not take up arms against the Iraqi government, but rather against the terrorist Al Qaeda organization. They have contributed to the stability which has led the Americans to proceed towards withdrawal from Iraq. However it seems that the myopic vision of some in Baghdad want sectarian and narrow-minded interests to prevail at the expense of stability. And this is why these Sunni Arab youth who are elements of the Iraq which is well under way are being targeted.
This operation is not the product of one day, the planning for the destruction of the Awakening Councils began since information was revealed that the Americans plan to withdraw [from Iraq]. This came only after the Awakening Councils contributed to creating stability in the volatile Sunni Iraqi regions.
Last year Jalaludin Al Saghir, a member of [the Iraqi] parliament fro the Shiite bloc said “The State can not accept the men of the Awakening; their days are coming to an end.” While Brigadier General Nasser Al Hiti, Commander of the Muthanna 3rd Brigade 6th Division of the Iraqi army described members of the Awakening Councils as being “like a cancer that must be eradicated.”
[Iraqi Prime Minster] Mr. Maliki says that Al Qaeda and the Baathists have infiltrated the Awakening Councils, and the Iraqi government is using ridiculous excuses to strike at the Awakening Councils; including using the confession of captured Al Qaeda members to implicate others in membership of the [terrorist] organization.
There is no secret in this, for the leadership of the Awakening Councils have always said that in the past they were aligned with Al Qaeda, and that they took up arms against the Americans and the government, but it was the same Awakening Councils that turned on them [Al Qaeda], fought them, and brought stability to the central regions [of Iraq].
The question today is; when will the Iraqi government announce that it has made a mistake with regards to the Awakening Councils and protect them, primarily from “internal” betrayal so that Iraq can avoid a gloomy future? It is not possible to easily eliminate 120,000 armed men, unless what is being called for is a civil war, and here the question must be asked: who will benefit from such a war?