FALLUJAH — The threat of violence hangs over Fallujah again as leaders of the Awakening Council fight for political power through the elections Jan. 31.
The Awakening Councils were set up and backed by the U.S. military to curb spiralling violence. According to the U.S. military, most of the members recruited were former resistance fighters. Over recent years, they grew to a strength of about 100,000 men, each paid 300 dollars a month.
U.S. aid to the Councils was cut off in October on the understanding that the members would be absorbed into Iraqi government forces. To date, less than a third have been given government jobs.
The Awakening Councils now control most of Al-Anbar province. This is the largest province, covering about a third of Iraq. Political power here is critical because the province borders Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Syria. Anbar has a largely Sunni population of about two million, in an Iraqi population of about 25 million.