Meanwhile in Iraq

U.S.-Trained Sunnis Return to al Qaeda

Bad news for the fight against insurgents in Iraq. The U.S.-backed Awakening Councils began forming when Sunni insurgents started turning against al Qaeda in 2006, encouraged by the U.S. military with money and promises of government jobs. And the campaign was a major contributor to the decrease in sectarian violence since then. Over the past four months, several thousand Awakening fighters—large numbers of which have been privy to extensive knowledge of the U.S. military—have quit, been fired, or disappeared. The fighters are subject to a push and pull: The Iraqi government has been confiscating their weapons, reducing their pay, and stripping them of rank, while al Qaeda has been recruiting the fighters it fails to kill by promising them more money than the government does. The uncertainty surrounding Iraq’s parliamentary elections this March has exacerbated the feeling of marginalization among the Sunni Awakening, as they fear losing what little political power they still have.