Attacks Against Iraqi Awakening Councils Underscore Need For Iraqi Government To Take Charge, Says Menendez

Attacks Against Iraqi Awakening Councils Underscore Need For Iraqi Government To Take Charge, Says Menendez

Foreign Relations Committee member was in Iraq last weekend, met with sheikhs from Awakening Councils

Washington - According to a New York Times report today, recent attacks that have killed more than 100 leaders of the U.S.-supported Sunni militias made up of former insurgents, known as "Awakening Councils", threaten to undermine what little security has been achieved in Iraq by driving current U.S. allies back into the insurgency. American officials expressed concern over this development, which is apparently part of an effort by al Qaeda in Iraq to target and undermine these groups.

Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, traveled to Iraq last weekend and met with Sheikhs from the Awakening Councils outside of Baghdad, who expressed their concern that the Iraqi government was not giving their communities the support needed to maintain the stability their movement created. Sen. Menendez released the following statement today:

"There are many in Iraq who have chosen the promise of a democratic government over the indiscriminate violence of an insurgency, but this choice cannot be taken for granted. They need to see that the government can actually deliver the essential services they need to survive-things as basic and fundamental as water and electricity. The Sheikhs in the Awakening Councils who I spoke with believe they have done their part. They pushed al Qaeda in Iraq out of their neighborhoods. Now it is the Iraqi government's turn to step up and do its part."

"The Awakening Councils are a critical component to stabilizing Iraq. They give Iraqi citizens a direct role in stabilizing and reconstructing their country. The Iraqi government cannot afford to sit and watch these Councils fall victim to insurgent attacks. The future of Iraq depends on the Iraqi government standing up and taking control sooner rather than later, but it is not clear whether they will take the necessary action on their own. Our country's no-end-in-sight war policy certainly does nothing to push the Iraqis towards taking responsibility and ownership for their nation's well-being."

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