Arrest of Awakening leader sparks battle in Iraq
Iraqi security forces and Awakening Council members clashed Saturday in Baghdad, leaving two civilians dead, 13 other people wounded, and five Iraqi soldiers kidnapped, a military official told CNN.The Iraqi government has not lived up to its promises in hiring members of the Awakening Movement. It is possible that some have made their disappointment known in ways the Iraqis felt were illegal. The government needs to address these grievances or it can expect more such outburst.
The incident started after Adel al-Mashhadani -- the leader of the Fadhil Awakening Council in northern Baghdad -- and an aide were arrested by members of the Iraqi army and U.S. military, said Qassim Atta of the Baghdad military command.
Atta said that council members opened fire on Iraqi security forces after the arrest and security forces fired back. The 13 wounded included four soldiers. Authorities said council members kidnapped the five soldiers.
Atta said the Central Criminal Court had issued arrest warrants for al-Mashhadani and his aide, but he didn't say why they were detained.
The NY Times reports the arrest was on terrorism charges. It quotes the leader as saying:
...These guys real made a difference in this particular neighborhood. Iraq needs to find a way to deal with them that brings them inside the government tent.
“There’s a 50-50 chance that Awakening guys who are not very loyal to Iraq or who need to support their families may decide to join Al Qaeda again,” Mr. Mashhadani said in an interview a week ago.