Aug 23 2013
By Abbas al-Baghdadi
Azzaman, August 23, 2013
Tribes in the violent areas of central Iraq are facing threats and terror from al-Qaeda on their own, tribal chieftains and representatives say.
The tribes are mainly Sunni Muslims who see al-Qaeda as a real threat to their existence and way of life.
The terror group has emerged once again as a power to reckon with, mounting deadly attacks particularly in the predominantly Sunni areas.
Three years ago, U.S. occupation forces with assistance from Sunni tribes succeed in containing and weakening al-Qaeda but the terror group has resurfaced and turned into a nightmare for the government.
Most of the tribesmen are on government payroll but they say they have received no military aid from the state and were conducting the fighting relying on their own meager resources.
The tribesmen were once part of a militia U.S. occupation troops had raised and euphemistically called “Awakening Forces.” It had up to 180,000 tribesmen under arms.
But the Shiite dominated government was skeptical of the force and disbanded many of its members or put them on pension.
In Abu Ghraib, one of the most violent areas in central Iraq and home to the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, the tribesmen were reported to be using their own vehicles and personal weapons in battling al-Qaeda.
“We are facing the armed group with personal weapons without any assistance from the security organs or the ministry of defense,” said a tribal leader with the nickname of Abu Talib. “We have received no aid from the government and are confronting the gunmen on our own.”
In some restive provinces like Diyala where al-Qaeda is active, it is the tribes who are doing most of the fighting.
“The Awakening Forces play a big and effective role in supporting the security forces,” said a senior police officer from Diyala.
Major-General Ghalib al-Jibouri said the security forces in the province “rely a great deal on tribes and their fighters.”
But not everyone is happy to see tribesmen involved in fighting alongside security forces.
Many members of parliament have expressed their concern over giving any military role to civilians, saying it showed that the country’s army and security forces were incapable of protecting the country on their own.