For more than a year, American soldiers have built up the councils — made up of about 100,000 mostly Sunni Muslims, many of them former insurgents. The Americans credit them for helping to greatly reduce violence around the country.
But now in Adhamiya, and in some other areas of Iraq, the patrols have become increasingly unpredictable and problematic. Commanders quarrel and compete for money and territory. Finger-pointing and threats are common. There have been complaints that the men — not a few of them swaggering street toughs — use their power to intimidate neighborhood residents. Sometimes violence erupts.
“What you have is essentially armed factions, like mini-gangs that operate in a certain set of checkpoints in certain territories,” said Lt. Erick Kuylman, a patrol commander in the First Battalion, 68th Armor regiment, which operates in Adhamiya.
Next week the Iraqis Shiites formally take over paying the Awakening. If they welsh on the payments or start throwing the Sunnis in jail, it’s going to get ugly.