Every guerrilla whose been hangin' in this Casbah knows that we've spent an ample amount of time talking about a little British invention called Iraq. (Yes Gertrude Bell, it's worth a quick read.) But recently, a few guerrillas have been asking: Now that the former Sunni insurgents are armed, thanks to the surge strategy, are they going to use their arms against the Shia led government in Baghdad? This question lurks over recent U.S. troop withdrawals.
Just this week al-Jazeera reported that a Sunni group that was part of the famous Sons of Iraq program has clashed with American and Iraqi forces in Baghdad. This is one of the first such reports that I have seen and surely has raised a few eyebrows across the blogosphere. If you ask me, I'd say that we're going to start to see more sectarian friction as the U.S continues to pull is force out. But to the question of how much violence is "expectable" v.s. "un-expectable"--I am ignorant.
Clearly, it is the job of the Iraqi government to start to integrate these Sunni groups into a federal system. If the last Iraqi election showed us anything, it is that Shia Iraqis want a central government in Baghdad. Leaders like Sayyed Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, who is the head of the SIIC and favors a Shia mini-state in southern Iraq, lost largely because of these views. Instead, the Shia went for Prime Minister Maliki, Dawa Party, and Iraq.
So if these same Shia voted for the concept of Iraq, then it's time to figure out a way to rein these armed Sunni militias. Otherwise, Mess-o-Potaina could suffer another melt down.
Update: Check out this post by Thomas Ricks on his blog The Defense. My only conclusion is that he MUST BE READING THE CASBAH!
Update #2: U.S. and Iraqi forces get this Awakening group to disarm and persuade its members to join the Iraqi security force.