The success of the famous “surge” may be under threat due to threats by Sunni militia to go on strike against their American pay-masters. Leading members of the 80,000 strong Sahwa, or, Awakening Councils, vowed to cease fighting unless payment of their $10 a day wage was resumed. The fighters accuse the US military of allowing them to do the dirty work of routing al-Qaida, and when that appeared to be successful, of then dumping the fighters. A telephone survey by Guardian Films for Channel 4 News reveals that out of 49 Sahwa councils, four with more than 1,400 men have already quit, 38 are threatening to go on strike and two already are on strike. Improved security in Iraq was a combination of more US troops, the decision of Moqtada al-Sadr to impose a unilateral truce, and the work of Awakening Council units.
Abu Abdul-Aziz, head of the Council in Abu Ghraib told the Guardian: “The Americans got what they wanted. We purged al-Qaida for them and now people are saying why should we have any more deahs for the Ameicans. they have given us nothing.” Sunnis are complaining at failure of the Iraq government to provide jobs for their fighters in the police and armed forces since the Shiites don’t want more armed Sunnis in the nation.
The Awakening Councils, in many ways, provided the backbone of recent effort to curtail violence in Iraq. The flip side of America’s failure to ensure those who fought were rewarded is knowledge there are now 80,000 well armed Sunni fighters in Iraq. What if they decided to use those arms against the Iraq government?