Baghdad: The US decision to include more than 70,000 armed men from the Sunni Awakening council, who fought against Al Qaida, into the Iraqi Army has fired up new conflict with Iran.
Haider Al Abadi, advisor to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki, revealed that Al Maliki had not been told of the move and the process had taken place with no coordination between the US Army and the Prime Minister.
"The US will not allow the ongoing Shiite militia's penetration in the Iraqi Army because they realise these militias are Iranian's striking force inside Iraq in case of any future American-Iranian conflict in the region. I think losing over 190,000 weapons from the Iraqi Interior Ministry's stores is solid evidence of Iran's loyal militias' influence in the Iraqi armed forces," Monthir Al Alousi, a senior officer in the former Iraqi army told Gulf News.
Two months ago special Iraqi army brigades acquired sophisticated weapons. The US equipped these brigades because they included trusted high-ranking Iraqi officers.
"The main reason behind delaying the Iraqi forces armament is that the US fear military equipment may be handed over to Shiite militia loyal to Iran," Adil Al Zubaidi, a strategic analyst and researcher, told Gulf News.
US reservations to supply weapons to the Iraqi Army caused a security problem on the ground. Armed Islamic groups, particularly Al Qaida, took advantage to extend its power in Iraqi cities and neighbourhoods.
Ayad Al Hamadani, professor of military science at Al Bakir University in Saddam Hussain's era, told Gulf News: "Americans decided to set up and support a Sunni awakening force to confront Al Qaida's growing influence. For decision-makers in the White House and the Pentagon, these forces will be the safety valve to counter Iran's influence in the Iraqi armed forces. I am certain the Sunni awakening forces will evolve in the future.
"Nouri Al Maliki and other Shiite political leaders are aware of this and are preparing to merge more Shiite militia elements in the Iraqi army and security forces, this move is in reply to America's decision to include Sunni armed men of the awakening forces."
Aziz Al Rawi, an activist in the Sunni Al Ameria neighbourhood awakening force, told Gulf News: "We will join the Iraqi Army so it remains loyal to Iraq and we will not allow elements loyal to Iran to stay in the army. I call this conflict an Iranian-Arabic conflict not Iranian-American."