Today’s L.A. times piece is sure to leave many with a sour taste in their mouths. Ned Parker reports that Al-Qaeda in Iraq is emerging once again. Having been largely driven from their previous areas of influence by the Sunni Awakening Councils, the Sunni militia men whom the U.S. utilized and paid to help stem AQI’s destructive influence, AQI is now reconstituting it’s power because of a variety of political and socio-economic reasons. And as the United States prepares for the final withdrawal of it’s troops, AQI will most likely become more aggressive in its efforts to destabilize the Iraqi government.
The Iraqi government though, is not helping. Infrastructure is poor, unemployment rampant, and March elections have resulted in a stalemate with no power sharing agreement on the horizon. And, as Parker notes,
Al Qaeda in Iraq’s rekindled influence can be traced back a year…,after the Shiite-led Iraqi government finished taking over the Awakening program nationwide in the spring of 2009. Soon army raids intensified in Sunni communities and Awakening salaries were often paid late. Progress on incorporating Awakening members into the security forces was tepid at best. The ranks of the paramilitary group were diminished, and Al Qaeda in Iraq used the opening to reassert itself.
These new developments pose a risk to those innocent Iraqis, who having braved and survived over seven years in their war torn country, still cannot walk down a city street with the full confidence that their life will not be taken from them in some cruel manner. Perhaps most vulnerable are those Iraqis formerly and currently employed by the United States government, who, when United States forces depart completely, will be forced to reintegrate into a society that will not be fully ready to accept them. Already threats have been leveled at these Iraqis, with some AQI affiliates vowing to target these “collaborators” once the last American boot has left Iraq’s soil.