One of the main reasons for the declining violence in Iraq the past few years was that the Sunni insurgents gave up their arms and started working with and for the American military and the Shia government. Salaries from the Americans and promises of jobs and influence within the government made the Sunnis realize that supporting Al-Qaeda would have devastating results for Iraq and possibly throw the country in to an all-out civil war. This switch of sides is known as the “Sunni Awakening”, and it has helped in restoring hopes for a more secure Iraq.

In the past few months however, Iraq has seen an increase in violence, as the Americans are withdrawing and the country is at a political standstill. Members of the Sunni awakening group are also switching sides again, due to an Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia recruitment offensive. The Sunni ex-insurgents are complaining that they are not getting the relevant jobs they were promised by the government, and that salaries are rarely being paid. An ex–Awakening Council leader, Nathum al-Jubouri says that “The Awakening does not know what the future holds because it is not clear what the government intends for them.”  Less than half of all Awakening members have been offered jobs within the government, and rejoining Al-Qaeda and the insurgency seems like the only solution for many of the Awakening members.

The leaders of the Awakening feel marginalized by the government and left by the U.S. military (although they still remain allies with the government), and they are aware of the difficult situation Iraq is now moving in to. With a political standstill (due to the elections earlier this year) and an insurgency on the rise once again, both politicians and security forces must do a formidable job to prevent such scenes in Iraq as those in 2006-2007, when the country was virtually at the break of a civil war. The problem is that the security forces are still in many cases threatened by the Sunni Awakening, and often are arresting its members on terrorist charges, which again creates a trust issue between the sides. And as the government fails to integrate the Awakening members into its security forces and still keep Sunni power to a minimal, it seems that peace and stability in Iraq for now remains a dream. The U.S. Military will continue to withdraw next year, and if Iraq still does not have an official government and the Sunni Awakening movement is still marginalized, the country may very well find itself 4 years back in time, leaving the past years’s progress to be in vain. In order to prevent this, there must be consensus where all sides in this conflict agree on security terms and find ways to share the influence of power between the different ethnic groups of Iraq without bloodshed.

Advertisements