One key, yet overlooked, factor behind recent declines in Iraq’s violence is U.S. support for new Sunni militias made up of former insurgents and al-Qaeda sympathizers. Direct financial support provided by the U.S. military to these groups – known collectively as the sahwa movement – have helped make the movement the main authority in certain Baghdad neighborhoods and other parts of Iraq.
While Americans debate what might happen when U.S. troops redeploy, an equally important question is what might happen when the United States turns off the tap and stops purchasing the security provided by these militias. Will these groups be integrated into the Iraqi government and civil society, or will they initiate violent turf battles against their rivals?
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