Maliki disarming Awakening Councils

Iraq’s Prime Minister has said it won’t allow Sunni allies of the US, the Awakening Councils, to keep their weapons indefinitely.

After clamping down on Shia fighters, the Shia dominated government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has recently gone after Sunni fighters despite their alliances with the Americans. Some leaders have been arrested, while scores of others have been disarmed and banned from manning checkpoints except alongside security forces.

The groups, known as Awakening Councils, Sons of Iraq and Popular Committees, have helped rout al-Qaeda in some parts of Iraq. But Shia leaders fear the Sunnis’ switch of allegiance from al-Qaeda to the US is just a tactic, and that they could one day turn their weapons against the Shia majority.

The US which has put many of the Sunni fighters on its payroll, has urged al-Maliki to incorporate them into his security forces, but it is said that the government has been slow to do so.

In a speech to Shia tribal leaders in Baghdad on Saturday, al-Maliki mixed praise for the Sunni fighters with a warning. He said armed groups, alongside security forces, were tolerated for a limited period because their weapons were “aimed at the chests of the terrorists.”

“So they (the Sunni fighters) deserve our gratitude and the inclusion (into the security forces) because we adhere to a policy that there are no arms but the arms of… >>>

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