The Iraqi and AQI Roles in the Sunni Awakening

After the coalition forces invaded Iraq in 2003, Sunnis revolted against the idea of de-Sunnifying Iraq. Partnering with the United States in 2006 was mainly an attempt to recoup Sunni losses once the United States had seemingly changed its position in their regard. This happened as the Sunni community increasingly saw al Qaeda and Iran as bigger threats than the U.S. occupation. The Sunni Awakening had two main parts: the Anbar Awakening and the Awakening councils, or the Sons of Iraq program. The Anbar Awakening was an Iraqi grassroots initiative supported by the United States and paid for by the Iraqi government. The Sons of Iraq program was a U.S.-led and -funded initiative to spread the success of the Anbar Awakening into other Sunni areas, particularly heterogeneous areas, and was not fully supported by the Iraqi government. If not for al Qaeda’s murder and intimidation campaign on Sunnis, and its tactic of creating a sectarian war, the Anbar Awakening—a fundamental factor in the success of the 2007 surge—most probably would not have occurred, and it would have been difficult for the United States in 2006 to convince Sunnis to partner with them in a fight against al Qaeda.