Global Politics

Paying Iraq's 'Awakening Councils'

It's not surprising that Iraq's Shiite dominated government isn't keen about thousands of Sunni being on its payroll. Some of these men used to be Sunni insurgents and now they're supposed to be absorbed by the Iraqi Army, which killed many Sunnis during the sectarian strife. But the U.S. military sees the creation of these Awakening Councils as the most important way of keeping the insurgency down. And that's where this infantry unit comes in. in bases across Iraq, U.S. soldiers have worked day and night for the past two weeks to make sure every single Awakening Council member has turned over his paperwork to the Iraqi government. This major says assembling these pay packets is his #1 counterinsurgency mission right now. This is grueling work because of the paperwork. Some criminal elements have tried using the Awakening Council to skim money. But here at this checkpoint, this unit is doing their job. Checkpoints are all over this rural area to keep young men from being recruited by insurgents. But the leader of this checkpoint would prefer to keep working by the Americans and is worried about the transition to working for the Iraqi government. American officials share that concern especially because the Iraqi Army doesn't seem to have much of a plan yet for paying the Awakening Councils.

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