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Fearing Arrest, Some Sahwa Fighters Leave Iraq
"Sucessor Selected" to Detained Commander in Baghdad's Fadhil District
04/03/2009 5:49 PM ET
As tensions continue between the irregular Sunni Arab fighters known in Arabic as Sahwa or “Awakening” forces, and the Iraqi official security troops, some Sahwa leaders have warned their men of new arrests, while other reports have emerged that a successor has been selected to fill the vacancy left by the provocative arrest of a Sahwa commander in central Baghdad days ago.

Some Sahwa commanders have reportedly left the country fearing legal prosecution and charges brought against the irregular forces that operate in Iraq’s predominantly Sunni Arab areas, according to reports in Arabic, while other Sahwa elements are reported to be arranging their affairs in preparation for arrest operations targeting them.

The deputy leader of the “Sahwa of Dora” in southern Baghdad, Samir al-Hindi said that “Some of the Sahea groups are reorganizing their papers in preparation for anticipated arrest operations against them, warning that if the situation deteriorates further, some Sahwa leaders could return to their former armed activities, according to reports on al-Iraq News.

“The change in the government’s policy towards us has incited fear among us,” al-Hindi said, referring especially to the Iraqi government forces arrest of Adil al-Mashhadani, the leader of the Sahwa organization in the Fadhil district of central Baghdad, along with some of his aides, which led to armed clashes between Iraqi security forces and Sahwa fighters in the district over the weekend.

The Iraqi government has announced that the arrests in Fadhil were not a move against the Sahwa organizations per se, but instead came as a result of specific charges against al-Mashhadani for alleged terrorism against inhabitants of Fadhil.

Sa’id Aziz Salman, the leader of the Sahwa of Taji, in Iraq’s Salah al-Din province, north of Baghdad, remarked that the charges and arrests in Fadhil promted some Sahwa leaders who had earlier links to armed groups to leave the country, fearing that they might be targeted.

Meanwhile, reports have emerged from inside the Fadhil district that Hashim al-Na'imi has been selected to succeed the detained al-Mashhadani as the commander of the district’s Sahwa forces, al-Iraq News writes.

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