Monday, December 27, 2010

What’s In The Future For The Sons Of Iraq

For the last 20 months the integration of the Sons of Iraq (SOI) has been on hold. The 2010 budget, security concerns, the March parliamentary elections, and the protracted formation of a new government have all been reasons for the delay. Now that a new ruling coalition and budget are finally moving forward, the future of the former insurgents is more in doubt than ever before.

Since April 2009 there has been a hiring freeze on the Sons of Iraq (SOI). The Interior Ministry imposed the ban due to the 2010 budget, which did not allot enough money for new employees. It denied around 10,300 SOI as a result. The following month the Defense Ministry stopped taking in SOI as well, citing the security situation, and the coming parliamentary elections. Provinces have also been strapped for funds for the SOI.

The National Reconciliation Commission, headed by Zuhair Chalabi, is in charge of the Sons of Iraq. Chalabi told the Associated Press in December that the 2011 budget has $200 million set aside to pay the SOI. The government also plans on boosting their pay back up to the $300 a month they use to get from the Americans. When Baghdad took over the SOI they cut their wages. The problem is that officials are not sure whether the up coming budget has money to pay for former fighters who are given new government jobs. When Iraq took command of the SOI they promised to give 20% of the fighters employment in the security forces, and the other 80% would be placed in other ministries or the private sector. Chalabi recently said that no more SOI would be taken into the police or army however because the freezes by the Interior and Defense Ministry are going to continue into the new year.

Ultimately the future of the SOI will rest with the new Maliki administration. The prime minister is against integrating the SOI, while Chalabi says that he will finish the job. New actors will also be involved in the second Maliki term such as Iyad Allawi who is to head a to be created National Council for Strategic Policies, the Speaker of Parliament Osama Nujafi, and Deputy Premier Saleh al-Mutlaq all of which want the SOI to be fully integrated. However the financial and political restraints may be too much to overcome. The fighters are supposed to have enough money to keep them on their posts, manning checkpoints and carrying out patrols for one more year, but that may be their last. Already many have reportedly walked off their jobs to find work elsewhere because they no longer feel safe due to insurgent attacks and government neglect. With the highly coveted security field now off limit, more are likely to dissert, which may only leave those who lack the skills and opportunity to do anything else left. Their ultimate fate may be the unemployment line, which was where they might have been all along if not for the insurgency, and then the SOI.

The Sons were always a stopgap measure created by the Americans to split the Sunni nationalists from the Islamists and foreign fighters. It was only after the sectarian civil war ended, that the U.S. began pushing for the government to provide the SOI with permanent employment. Maliki and other Shiite politicians were always opposed to the program, and therefore dragged their feet when it came to integration. With the Americans leaving and future budget constrains, they may finally have the excuse they need to end the Sons once and for all.


Associated Press, “Bleak outlook for plans to help Sons of Iraq,” 12/16/10

Bengali, Shashank, “With U.S. presence fading in Iraq, ex-militia faces uncertain future,” McClatchy Newspapers, 12/7/10

Department of Defense, “Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq June 2010,” 9/7/10

Sly, Liz, “Iraq plans to cut Sunni fighters’ salaries,” Chicago Tribune, 11/2/08

Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, “Quarterly Report and Semiannual Report to the United States Congress,” 7/30/09
- “Quarterly Report and Semiannual Report to the United States Congress,” 7/30/10

Wiseman, Paul, “U.S.-supported Iraqi militias clash with government,” USA Today, 5/27/09


Anonymous said...

There is no longer any fear if we disband them they will start attacking us.

they are traitors, and the iraqi army knows were they live, were they work, we have their numbers, we know their tribes and their families.

Iraq is changing and when we disband them they wont be able to do a thing against a stronger and more compotent Iraqi army and police force

Joel Wing said...


So you don't feel any need for reconciliation? They were insurgents, turned on them, were used, and now their usefulness is up?

Don Cox said...

It's easy for an anonymous poster to throw accusations of treason around.

Anonymous said...

they are mercenaries, they fight for who ever pays more thats all

if al quaed atmrw can pay double what the iraqi gov can then they will rejoin them

Anonymous said...


all you have to do is watch their interviews, all they ever do is threaten if they dont get paid and get jobs there will be violence?? What kind of patriotic people threten death, destruction, assasinations, suicide bombings, shia killings etc if they dont get paid??

I mean are we to remain hostage to a people who have no loyalty or ideology except violence.

And please do tell me how you would feel if you had a son/daughter kidnapped by these people, or brother killed by them and then you hear they are to be integrated with well paid jobs or else the killing will continue??

Its easy for a non iraqi to talk with reason and rationality, live like we have lived before you make up your mind

Iraqi Mojo said...

"Its easy for a non iraqi to talk with reason and rationality"

Good point. If terrorists kill kill the brother or sister of an American, the American will become Rambo and won't stop killing until all his enemies are dead. It's been 9 years since 9/11. Are Americans ready to reconcile with Usama bin Ladin?

Iraqi Mojo said...

"History teaches us that the war's winners often change the post-war government and its laws in an effort to heal their nation in the aftermath of internecine conflict, but it usually takes generations to obtain the desired outcome."

Anonymous said...

[First post] What a shameful post, but unfortunately a probable reflection of the current mindset of senior Iraqi politicians. Similar words to the previous regime, just different people saying them.
Iraq is slowly sinking towards being another authoritarian government; time will tell.