|A member of one of Iraq's Awakening Councils [EPA]|
The Iraqi government has rejected a request by the so-called 'Awakening Councils' to have offices across the country.
The Councils are backed and paid for by the US. Comprised of former local insurgents who have turned their guns on al-Qaeda, the US sees the councils as a valuable tool for combating violence.
Washington argues the councils have played a pivotal role in the remarkable fall of violence that has accompanied the American troop surge. But the government says it does not want the nearly 80,000 strong troops to be a "third force" operating alongside the Iraqi Police and the Army.
Baghdad has pledged to integrate about a quarter of members of the Awakening Councils into the Shia-controlled security services and military, and to provide them with training so that the rest can find civilian jobs.
So, what is the future of the Awakening Councils fighting al-Qaeda in Iraq? And will the government's solution for handling them work?
Find out on Inside Story at 17:30 GMT.
This episode of Inside Story aired on Monday, December 24, 2007
To contact us click on 'Send your feedback' at the top of the page
Watch Al Jazeera English programmes on YouTube
Join our debates on the Your Views page
Source: Al Jazeera