Arnon Grunberg


Casualties plunged

On the front page of the Times today an article how the Iraqi government has started arresting members of the Awakening movement: ‘The American military began paying many members of the Awakening movement as the program expanded, even including Shiite members who make up about one-fifth of the program. Now they are paid roughly $300 a month by the United States to guard checkpoints and buildings and — for those who used to be insurgents — to no longer blow up American convoys and shoot American troops.
Although the “surge” is often described as the turning point that led to lower violence, a number of American officers contend the Awakening that began well before the surge in 2006 in Anbar Province and continued in Baghdad last year was the most significant reason for the decline. In some places, American casualties plunged within weeks of the Sunnis joining with American forces.’ From what I witnessed in May in Iraq the Awakening seemed to me at least partly effective.
I cannot see how a crackdown on the Awakening movement can be a positive development.
Mr. Oppel's article ends with this remarks: ‘As part of the Awakening’s efforts to transform itself into a political movement, Abu Azzam has organized a political slate for the coming provincial elections and says he has renounced violence for good. He is optimistic that some former fighters will not return to armed conflict if the government refuses them jobs, he said.
But he acknowledged, “Part of them will fight the government if they are not recruited into the security forces.”’