I put Middle Earth Journal in hiatus in May of 2008 and moved to Newshoggers.
I temporarily reopened Middle Earth Journal when Newshoggers shut it's doors but I was invited to Participate at The Moderate Voice so Middle Earth Journal is once again in hiatus.

Monday, November 12, 2007

National Reconciliation or.....

A few days ago I reported that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said that national reconciliation was complete.
What Maliki said was that reconciliation is complete in the Shiites won. Of course the Sunnis probably don't see it that way and knowing now that they are not going to get anything more from the Shia controlled government I wonder how much longer before they start using those shiny new weapons that Petraeus just gave them. If the current reduction in violence is actually real this is probably just the eye of the hurricane not the end of it.
Well now we see that the Shiite-dominated government wants no part of Sunni fighters in the police or military but Shiite militia members are just fine.
Hurdles Stall Plan For Iraqi Recruits
Shiite Leadership Wary of Bringing Fighters Into Ranks
BAGHDAD -- The U.S. effort to organize nearly 70,000 local fighters to solidify security gains in Iraq is facing severe political and logistical challenges as U.S.-led forces struggle to manage the recruits and the central government resists incorporating them into the Iraqi police and army, according to senior military officials.

Gen. David H. Petraeus and other top commanders have hailed the initiative to enlist Iraqi tribes and former insurgents in the battle against extremist groups, but leaders of Iraq's Shiite-dominated government have feared that the local fighters known as "volunteers" -- more than 80 percent of whom are Sunni -- could eventually mount an armed opposition, Iraqi and U.S. officials said.

In some cases, the government has confined the fighters to their headquarters or local mosques. Nevertheless, the volunteers pour in by the hundreds every week, forming a massive but cumbersome force lacking common guidelines, status, pay or uniforms. The effort represents an opportunity to shore up local police and eventually relieve U.S. troops, but one that could prove fleeting or backfire if the volunteers are not organized quickly, officials said.

"To give you a sense of the bureaucratic challenge here, the entire British army is just under 100,000," said Maj. Gen. Paul Newton, the British counterinsurgency expert tapped by Petraeus to lead the effort. "What we've seen in this campaign is already therefore three-quarters of the size of the British army, without any kind of human resource management structure to recruit it, train it, vet it," Newton, 51, said in an interview.

Since taking the job in early June, Newton has met with tribal sheiks, Sunni insurgents, Shiite militia leaders and Iraqi politicians in an attempt to "glue together" the local armed groups with the Iraqi government. But as the local initiatives proliferate, Newton said, the effort is like "trying to sprint while putting your socks on."

More than 67,000 people across 12 of Iraq's 18 provinces are registered under the military designation Concerned Local Citizens, and 51,000 of those have been screened and had their names, fingerprints and other biometric data recorded by the U.S. military, Newton said. Such information is entered into a vast database that soldiers can use to help identify past criminal behavior, such as by matching fingerprints on a roadside bomb component. Eighty-two percent of the volunteers are Sunni and 18 percent are Shiite, he said. About 37,000 are being paid about $300 a month through contracts funded by the U.S.-led military coalition.

Although U.S. commanders stress that the coalition is not forming a Sunni militia, Iraqi leaders complain that paying the fighters is tantamount to arming them. The Iraqi government so far has balked at permanently hiring large numbers of the volunteers, resisting pressure from U.S. commanders to lift caps on the number of police in Anbar and Diyala provinces. Only about 1,600 of the volunteers have been trained and sworn in to the Iraqi security forces, primarily with the police.
The civil war is on hold and will flare up with increased violence when the time is right. I suspect the Bush administration knows this and is simply trying to postpone the inevitable until after the 2008 elections.

Shiite-dominated government may not want the Sunnis in the Security Force but Juan Cole reports that they can't get enough Shiite militia men.
Al-Zaman reports in Arabic that PM al-Malaki has taken the contoversial decision to recruit 18,000 members of Shiite militias into the Iraqi government security forces. (In fact, the Iraqi military has de facto been recruiting a lot of Shiite militiamen anyway).

You have to wonder if this step is intended to offset the American military's pressure to recruit Sunni tribesmen and neighborhood volunteers into the security forces.

Aljazeera is reporting that Iraqi vice president Tariq al-Hashimi has come out vigorously denouncing al-Maliki for this move.

Well, something has to be done with the Shiite militiamen. You can't just demobilize them without risking their turning to violence. I think it would be better to give them civilian desk jobs in some department where they can't do much mischief, until the Iraqi economy can get its act together. (Eventually Iraq is likely to get rich, and there will be plenty of jobs in the oil sector and in industry; the question is what to do with trained militiamen until that comes about.) But putting the militiamen in the official security forces will cause a lot of trouble.

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