There are more and more signs of the Awakenings strategy hitting turbulence, if not going off the rails. The drumbeat of assassinations of Awakenings leaders and attacks on their men continues. Joseph Galloway reported yesterday of the growing tension over allegations that Shia militias are behind the recent upsurge of attacks. Patrick Cockburn reported from Falluja that an important local commander warned that if his people aren't integrated into the Iraqi military and police in three months they are prepared to stand down and let al-Qaeda back in. The Anbar Salvation Council declared that it would not fly the new Iraqi flag, meaning that for a while these local militias would literally be operating under a different flag than the national institutions from which they remain excluded. Today, al-Hayat reports that 230 Awakenings fighters north of Baghdad quit because they hadn't been paid in two months. And then, there's been a series of public eruptions between Anbar Salvation Council leaders and between the ASC and the Baghdad-based Awakening militias.
Here's the story, as reported by al-Hayat. ASC leader Ahmed Abu Risha blasted Shaykh Hamed al-Hayes, another prominent Anbar Salvation Council leader, for announcing that there would be a conference of some 3,000 members of Awakening and Salvation Councils from all over Iraq to establish a new political body called Thowar al-Iraq (which could be translated as the 'The Insurgents (or Revolutionaries) of Iraq'... something of an intriguing choice, given the tensions between the tribal leaders and the insurgency factions within the Awakenings trend). Al-Hayes, Abu Risha told al-Hayat, had no right to hold any conference or do any project in the name of the Awakening without consulting the ASC. Abu Risha said that they did plan to hold such a conference for the movement's 125 Councils, but had not yet set a date or adopted that agenda. At the same time, Abu Risha said that he had sought an arrest warrant against Mohammed Said al-'Enzi, for claiming to be the commander of an Awakening Council in Baghdad without the approval of the ASC. This sounds like a real power struggle - and one which is likely rooted in the generally-understood difference between the Anbar Awakenings (more dominated by the tribal forces) and the Baghdad ones (which appear to be more dominated by insurgency factions).
As always, one shouldn't read too much into any one story, but reports like these need to be taken into account as potential indicators of where we're heading.
Oh, by the way, multiple press reports a few days ago claimed that Maliki has promised to form a new, smaller "national unity" government within a week (less than that now), and that the Accordance Front is ready to return. We shall see.