Highlights

 
Quotable
Every politician in the world is all for revolution, reason, and disarmament--but only in enemy countries, not in his own.
Hermann Hesse
Original Letters Blog US Casualties Contact Donate

 
March 6, 2008

Sahwa Forces Challenge Govt, and Win


by Ahmed Ali and Dahr Jamail

BAQUBA - The conflict between Sahwa forces and the Iraqi government in Diyala has resulted in more power for the Sahwa.

Tensions rose in early February when men dressed in Iraqi security personnel uniforms kidnapped two women. Their naked bodies were found later.

Before and after that incident, Sahwa forces have accused the police chief of Diyala province, Ghanim al-Qureyshi, of allowing Shi'ite militiamen and death squads to operate with impunity against Sunnis.

The Sahwa, referred to as Concerned Local Citizens, and Awakening Groups, by the US military, were formed to battle al-Qaeda. Members are paid 300 dollars a month by occupation forces, and now number over 80,000 across Iraq. The Sunni-dominated groups form a counterweight to the government security apparatus, which has long been known to comprise primarily Shi'ite militiamen.

After the case of the women, the Sahwa in Baquba, 40 km northeast of Baghdad, gave Qureyshi a deadline to apologize, and to arrest the men responsible.

"We hereby declare suspension of all cooperation with US military, Iraqi security forces and the local government," Abu Abdullah, spokesman for the Awakening Council in Diyala province announced after the deadline passed.

Shortly thereafter hundreds of members of the Awakening Council shut their offices and held three separate demonstrations in Baquba. The government in Baghdad promised to send a committee to investigate the incident, following which the Sahwa of Diyala resumed security duties in the city.

This did not last long, as the Sahwa accused government security forces of carrying out further attacks against Sunni people in and around Baquba. Sahwa forces then cut all ties with government and occupation forces, and left their security posts.

But after March 1, the provincial government seems to have agreed to many of the demands made by the Sahwa. This development shows the increasing power the Sunni group has against the Shi'ite-dominated government.

A Sahwa member said they have been promised the resignation of Qureyshi, the nomination of four Sunni assistants to be available to the new police chief, employment of 5,000 members of the Sahwa as government security personnel, and for the government police to stay out of predominantly Sunni districts.

Sahwa members returned to their posts and security duties, and have held street parties featuring a popular music band, in a show of defiance to police chief Qureyshi.

Recent comments by Iraqi security officials underscore the wide gap between them and the Sahwa.

General Mahdi Subeih from the interior ministry told the Saudi-owned al-Hayat newspaper in London Mar. 3: "The growth of the security role of members of the Awakening Councils has made them a third security force in the country alongside the army and the police."

Subeih said "the rebellion by some of the members of the Awakening Councils and the confrontations that erupted between them and the security forces reveal the depth of the chasm between the two sides."

(Inter Press Service)

comments on this article?
 
 
Archives

  • Iraqi Hospitals Suffer From Corruption, Shortages
    12/16/2008

  • Iraq Kidnappings Now Become 'Unofficial'
    8/30/2008

  • Sectarian Clashes Flare Up Again in Iraq
    8/27/2008

  • 'Provincial Saddam' Goes, Finally
    8/15/2008

  • Iraqi Sunnis Complain of Increased Iranian Influence
    8/14/2008

  • Iran May Gain From Iraq's Suffering
    8/8/2008

  • New Iraq Operation Gets Surprise Support
    8/6/2008

  • Iraqis Skeptical About Obama, McCain
    6/25/2008

  • Iraq's Widows Victims of Occupation, Social Codes
    6/19/2008

  • Iraqis Running Out of Water in Rising Heat
    5/10/2008

  • Tense Truce Between Awakening Groups and Iraqi Government
    4/9/2008

  • Shia Battles Spread to Baquba
    4/8/2008

  • In Iraq, Childhood Is a Thing of the Past
    3/11/2008

  • In Baquba, Happiness Is a Memory
    3/8/2008

  • Sahwa Forces Challenge Govt, and Win
    3/6/2008

  • Tensions Rise Between 'Awakening' and Iraqi Govt Forces
    3/1/2008

  • Occupation Strangles Farmers
    3/1/2008

  • Baquba Losing Life and Hope
    2/28/2008

  • Iraq Unemployment Too Becomes an Epidemic
    2/21/2008

  • Iraqis Still Left in the Dark
    2/16/2008

  • A New Force Called Sahwa Shows Its Muscle
    2/14/2008

  • US-Backed Groups Challenge Iraqi Government
    2/12/2008

  • In Iraq, Learning Can Be Dangerous
    2/12/2008

  • Violence Draws Veil Over Women
    2/1/2008

  • Iraqis: 'US the Biggest Producer of Terror'
    1/26/2008

  • Baquba: Under Curfew, This Is No Life
    1/25/2008

  • Fuel Crisis Freezes Iraqi Life
    1/10/2008

  • Iraqi Govt to Slash Food Rations Despite Far Higher Budget Than Saddam
    12/28/2007

  • Education Is the Latest Casualty in Baquba
    12/11/2007

  • Corruption Adds to Baquba's Problems
    11/16/2007

  • Iraq: Millions Trapped in Their Own Country
    11/6/2007

  • In Baquba, Better Security Brings No Reassurance
    11/3/2007

  • Many Iraqis Search Hopelessly for the Kidnapped
    9/5/2007

  • Iraqi Children Robbed of Childhood
    9/3/2007

  • Baquba Caught Between the US and Al-Qaeda
    8/21/2007

  • Sectarianism Splits Security in Diyala
    8/8/2007

  • Baquba Denied the Healing Touch
    7/26/2007

  • Baquba: Living in a Dead City
    7/24/2007

  • In Baquba, Mass Graves Dug to Deal With Death Toll
    7/18/2007

  • Iraq: Al-Qaeda Escapes U.S. Assault
    7/15/2007
  • Ahmed Ali and Dahr Jamail write for Inter Press Service.

    Reproduction of material from any original Antiwar.com pages
    without written permission is strictly prohibited.
    Copyright 2014 Antiwar.com