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Sunni Leaders Urge Maliki To Integrate Former Insurgents

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki

BAGHDAD -- Sunni tribal leaders and politicians have warned of antagonizing former insurgents who had turned against Al-Qaeda by arbitrarily arresting them and withholding their pay, saying such treatment could undermine Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

Sheikh Ali Hatam Suleiman, the Dulaimi tribal leader in Al-Anbar Province and chairman of the National Front for the Salvation of Iraq, told RFE/RL’s Radio Free Iraq (RFI) that delays in the government program to integrate Awakening Council members into security agencies or to employ them elsewhere threatens to force them back to their old ways as insurgents. "They will be fighting for their livelihood," Suleiman said.

Abdul-Karim al-Samarraei, a leading member of the Sunni Accordance Front, told RFI that the government has enough money to employ the Awakening Council members.

Abbas al-Bayati, a member of the parliament's Defense and Security Committee and the Shi'ite United Iraqi Alliance, told RFI that council members have fulfilled a national duty and the government is obliged to integrate them into security agencies or civilian jobs.

The U.S. completed the administrative transfer of some 90,000 council members to the Iraqi government on April 1.