Buried in the article this morning on the Sunni Awakening Councils is the rather startling fact that U.S. taxpayers finance these former insurgents to the tune of $360 million per year. Now we want the Shiite government of Iraq to take over paying a large majority of these former enemies.
Come Oct. 1, the Iraqi government will take over responsibility for paying and directing the Sunni-dominated citizen patrols known as Awakening Councils that operate in and around Baghdad, American and Iraqi officials said Monday. The transfer will involve 54,000 Awakening members who are now paid by the American military to guard neighborhoods or, in some cases, simply to refrain from attacking American and Iraqi forces.
Something tells me these payments are going to come to a halt. We can argue about whether shelling out $30 million a month to keep guys from shooting at us has the right cost benefit balance. However, any one of these 100,000 armed men who suddenly stops getting his $300 monthly stipend–because the Shiite government is more interested in throwing them in jail then paying them–could quickly turn back to the insurgency.
“The American forces put us in a dilemma,” said Sheik Salah al-Egaidi, commander of an Awakening cadre in the Dora neighborhood of Baghdad. “The Awakening is the reason for the security improvement in Baghdad, after finishing Qaeda and the militias, but they have sold us now. Our choices now are either to be killed or to be arrested or to leave Iraq.” His reference was to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the homegrown extremist group that American intelligence agencies says is foreign-led.