The Associated Press reports: Parading across a desert base, hundreds of Sunni tribesmen who graduated a crash training course stood ready to take on the Islamic State group on behalf of a government that many believed left them to die at the hands of the extremists.
Among them were tribesmen who watched as Iraqi forces abandoned Ramadi a month ago to the Islamic State group. Their suspicions toward the Shiite-led government in Baghdad could be seen as they pushed forward to receive their first government salary in 18 months, with one brandishing a Kalashnikov assault rifle as he neared the front.
“For a year and a half we told them we need weapons, we need salaries, we need food, we need protection, but our requests were ignored until the disaster of Ramadi happened,” said Sheikh Rafa al-Fahdawi, one of the leaders of the Al Bu Fahad tribe of Anbar province.
But money and weapons alone won’t be enough to repair the mistrust between Baghdad and the Sunni tribes it now needs to battle the Islamic State group, which holds about a third of the country and neighboring Syria in its self-declared “caliphate.” After Iraqi forces abandoned Ramadi and then turned to Shiite militias for help, both sides remain suspicious of each other, threatening any effort to work together. [Continue reading…]