the US military was effectively arming former Sunni insurgents

On the sensitive issue of the tens of thousands of Sunni fighters who have volunteered to join local police forces, Rubaie charged that the US military was effectively arming former Sunni insurgents by paying them, and expressed concern that the fighters were more loyal to the US military than to the Iraqi government.

“The Iraqi government needs to have the opportunity to win them first and their allegiance” as well as to command those local forces, he said.

Tension has flared in recent days as Iraqi political leaders have demanded that the US military halt its recruitment of the volunteers, considered by top US commanders to be the most promising development for security in Iraq in the past six months. Although the Iraqi government has hired many of the volunteers as police in the western province of al-Anbar, which is 95 percent Sunni, it has proven far more reluctant to endorse the Sunni fighters in mixed sectarian provinces such as Diyala, which lies between Baghdad and Iran.

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