Iraq: Laying the Groundwork for Violence

by Dahr Jamail
Global Research, May 7, 2009
T r u t h o u t

Throughout history, those who collaborate with the occupiers of their country tend to end up hung out to dry, or dead. The occupation of Iraq is no different - collaboration and the poison fruits that come of it are on full display for the history books once again. Only now, the rapidity with which this is happening is staggering.

On May 5, the Iraqi military killed Basim Mohammed and detained his brother. Mohammed was a member of the Sahwa, the 100,000-strong Sunni militia composed mostly of former resistance fighters that the US created in order to use them to battle al-Qaeda in Iraq, as well as paying them off to draw down the number of attacks against occupation forces.

The Sahwa, who were supposed to be given government jobs either in security or in civil services, have been betrayed. Instead of being given the promised jobs, they have been consistently targeted by the Iraqi military, and at times the US military, which has left them vulnerable as well to attacks from al-Qaeda. As a result, they are walking off their security jobs for lack of pay, and have largely ceased their military operations against al-Qaeda. The predictable result is what we have been witnessing over the last months - a slow but steady increase in the number of attacks against Iraqi and US forces and a dramatic rise in the spectacular car bomb attacks in largely Shia areas that kill scores at a time.

The obvious solution would be for the Obama administration to pressure its client government in Baghdad to fulfill promises to incorporate the Sahwa into its ranks, as well as applying pressure to Prime Minister Maliki to lay off targeting the Sahwa and its leadership.

Instead, Sahwa members like Mohammed are being killed and their family members detained, and the attacks continue. On May 3, Iraqi forces arrested Nadhim al-Jubouri, a Sahwa leader in the volatile Salahadin province. In March, Iraqi forces detained Adil al-Mashadani, head of another Sahwa group in the Fadhil neighborhood of central Baghdad - which ignited clashes between US, Iraqi and Sahwa forces that left three men dead and set the stage for more bloodletting.

Let us be clear - the US military knew, when the Sahwa were formed back in mid-2006, that most of the members were either former resistance fighters or members of al-Qaeda. Promises were made to these men that if they took the $300 monthly paycheck and promised to stop their attacks against occupation forces, they would be granted amnesty from any Iraqi government reprisal. The latter was necessary because from the beginning of the Sahwa’s creation, the Maliki government has opposed them, and spoke in bellicose terms that there would be measures taken to exact revenge on Sahwa members who had been in the Ba’ath Party, or who were former resistance fighters, which describes the vast majority of its members.

Sahwa leaders are complaining about this, to little or no avail. After his arrest on May 3, Sahwa leader Nadhim al-Jubouri, a former al-Qaeda militia leader, told reporters that his arrest by Iraqi police violated the amnesty deal he’d signed with the US military last year. Shame on al-Jubouri for putting any faith in the occupiers of his country. Clearly, he believes he lives outside of history. Jubouri told AFP, “We signed a cease-fire agreement with American forces, just as we signed an agreement to grant us immunity from the courts, even if we killed half the American army or shot down a plane.