Militia Blues

A US soldier was killed and four wounded by rocket fire south of Baghdad.


Courtesy ABC News

The Guardian video does a report, streamed below, on the prospect that some of the 80,000 members of the Awakening Councils or Concerned Local Citizens in Diyala Province and elsewhere are going to go on strike. Many of them say that they haven’t been paid for a while. Others complain about their continued subjection to the Shiite government (this complaint is common in Diyala Province). Still others resent the refusal of the al-Maliki government to integrate them into the formal state security services.

Al-Hayat writing in Arabic says that it is especially the Awakening Council members in Baghad who say they will strike

Meanwhile, this money graf doesn’t strike me as promising:

‘ As of March 2008, fully a year and a half after the beginning of the sahwa movement, less than 11% of the 90,000-plus force has been integrated into the ISF. Moreover, the Maliki government has stated that under no circumstances will it integrate more than a quarter of these militants into the ISF. ‘

Mahdi Army militiamen in the southern Shiite city of Kut attacked police checkpoints late Thursday, setting off battles that only ended on Friday. AP writes, “Also Friday, U.S. and Iraqi forces raided neighborhoods of southern Baghdad and Diwaniyah, 80 miles south of the capital, detaining suspected members of the Mahdi Army, Iraqi police said.”

A Sadrist member of parliament, Ahmad al-Masoudi (loyal to Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr), charged that the arrests of Sadrist leaders was intended to forestall a Sadrist victory in the October, 2008, provincial elections. He said that PM Nuri al-Maliki’s Da’wa Party and his ally the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq were attempting to affect the course of the elections. AP reports:

‘ “They have no supporters in the central and southern provinces, but we do,” Ahmed al-Massoudi told the AP. “If the crackdown against the Sadrists continues, we will begin consultations with other parliamentary blocs to bring down the government and replace it with a genuinely national one.” ‘

AP also says that Shaikh Nasir al-Mashayikhi, a Sadrist cleric in Basra, warned against any attempt to arrest Sadrists in that southern port city:

‘ Basra is not Kut or Diwaniyah,” he said. “Basra will turn into a cemetery for those who try to fight the Sadrists or detain them.” ‘

AP says that the troubles in Kut and arrests in Baghdad raise questions about the durability of the current cease-fire of the Mahdi Army.