Sunday, February 10, 2008

Awakening Members On Strike

By Cernig

Oh, the reconciliation!
U.S.-backed Sunni tribesmen shut their offices and rallied in Baqouba's streets Saturday, calling for the provincial police chief's resignation and accusing him of sectarian bias.

Hundreds of members of Sunni awakening councils in Diyala province held at least three demonstrations Saturday. At one rally in downtown Baqouba, a banner was hoisted above the crowd reading "al-Qureyshi targets Sunnis and kidnaps women" — referring to Gen. Ghanim al-Qureyshi, director general of Diyala police.

...the men — who patrol their neighborhoods on temporary security contracts paid by the U.S. — have grown frustrated with the province's Shiite-dominated government in recent months, and have threatened to halt cooperation.

Some have been denied jobs in the Iraqi security forces, and the blame al-Qureyshi, a Shiite. They accuse him of trying to maintain a Shiite majority in the police department in Diyala, a once-mixed province that now has a slight Sunni majority.
Back in September, Chief al-Qureyshi himself said he would love to hire 1,000 Awakening members right away, but the central government wouldn't let him. The US military is trying to downplay the strike, saying Awakening members have done the same thing before and then gone back to their posts. But surely the point is that they keep striking because their greivances aren't being met despite the US military's promises - over five or six months now.

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