An Iraqi general in charge of integrating the Sons of Iraq (SOI) said that there is no timeline for when they will again be offered jobs. Beginning in October 2008, the U.S. began handing over the SOI to Iraqi government control. It promised to give 20% of the fighters jobs in the security forces, and the other 80% would go to civilian ministries. In November 2009 that plan was put on hold because of the March 2010 parliamentary elections, and the protracted government formation process. No SOI has been hired in the last fourteen months as a result, and its unclear whether any will be in the future either.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s new regime has drafted a plan on restarting employment offers to the SOI, but the Iraqi general said the details are still under discussion. An analyst from the Iraqi Institute for Strategic Studies told Reuters that he didn’t think Baghdad was serious about hiring the SOI. There are already anecdotal stories that many SOI have walked off their jobs as a result. An SOI commander in Garmah, Anbar for example claimed that half of his 3,000 fighters had left to look for other work because they didn’t believe they would ever got a public sector job.
Many top officials, including the premier himself, were always weary of the Sons of Iraq program because it was created by the Americans without any Iraqi input. The U.S. was still able to pressure Maliki into accepting control of all the SOI. Now the U.S. is not in the same position as the majority of its troops are out of the country. There are some members of the Iraqi National Movement that support the integration of the SOI, but they don’t seem to have any real influence over Maliki. The result is that probably only a few more SOI if any are going to find employment in government agencies because they are just not a priority.
Ibrahim, Waleed, “Iraq Sunni fighters still waiting for promised jobs,” Reuters, 3/11/11
Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, “Sons of Iraq Program: Results Are Uncertain and Financial Controls Were Weak,” 1/28/11