The now unpaid Sahwa, called Sons of Iraq (SOI) by U.S. troops, are putting up a fight in Baghdad. Maliki's army with U.S. troop support closed off Baghdad's Fadel neighborhood and arrested SOI's Mashhadani and Salman Kadduri over allegations of murder and extortion.
The Sahwa were trained and equipped by Americans and did a good job of combatting Al-Qaeda. Now that the U.S. has stopped paying them, and Maliki's government has reneged on its promise to employ them, the Sahwa are increasingly unhappy with their plight. Many of them view police operations against them as unfair hunting for thier Sunni scalps.
Fadel has become an open battleground in the last two days, and gunfire continued today. You can read more about this from AlAribiya.
The mood is tense. Loudspeakers warned the fighters in Fadel to put down their weapons. "Anyone who still holds weapons after this deadline will be considered a terrorist," the message said. In this atmosphere it is easy to see that civilians will once again be caught in a violent cycle.
For the past five years or so, Iraq
was always in the headlines. In the past few months, the plight of the
country is mentioned less-and-less. President Obama has told us all
that Afghanistan is the number one threat to the U.S.
Pundit-after-pundit has hailed the diminishing violence in Iraq. There is a Santa Claus. Iraq is now peaceful and the Iraqi people are free. This newly-assessed theory about Iraq is false. There is still much violence, only the players may have changed. Many U.S. forces stick close-by their barracks as the new Iraqi police and military forces take over security. There has been a recent increase in resistance attacks that has devastated some Iraqi police forces and military personnel. We are not reading about this in the West. Plus, electricity and clean water supplies are just as minuscule as they were after the March 2003 invasion.