Iraq's Maliki to revive Sunni militia role against al Qaeda
Monday, January 13, 2014 - 01:29
Jan. 13 - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is embracing the Sunni Muslim fighters whose role in combating al Qaeda he had allowed to wither after U.S. troops left. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
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In a striking change of course, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is embracing Sunni Muslim tribal fighters whose role in combating al Qaeda he had allowed to wither after U.S. troops left two years ago.
Al Qaeda-linked militants swept into Anbar province two weeks ago moving into Falluja and Ramadi and delivering a setback to his government.
Now in a sitdown interview with Reuters, he is REVIVING the so-called "Son's of Iraq" -- the Sunni fighters who are helping the Shiite led government.
(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) IRAQI PRIME MINISTER, NURI AL-MALIKI, SAYING:
"Those who stood against the ''Sons of Iraq' stand with those who do not want security. Those people contribute to achieving security and the government has to take care of them."
He said while Iraq eventually will need combat fighters and long-range missiles to defend its ground, its immediate need is for light and heavy infantry weapons to fight al Qaeda.
(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) IRAQI PRIME MINISTER NURI AL-MALIKI, SAYING:
"We do not expect to receive Apache helicopters or Russian jet fighters or French planes or long-range missiles and the likes anytime soon. This is not a battle of armies, it's a guerrilla battle, street fighting, and the guerrilla war has its own weapons."
Maliki's chances of a third term partly hangs on his ability to project an image as a strong national figure who can impose security and stability.
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