Members of a Sunni Arab tribal alliance have been
killed by suspected al-Qaeda insurgents [AFP]
The US-backed Awakening Council - a Sunni Arab tribal alliance - has been hit by a wave of assassinations and bomb attacks in the last month.

At least 100 of its members have been killed by suspected al-Qaeda insurgents who are intimidating and punishing them for cooperating with the Americans.

The recent surge of attacks threatens to push the country to a new level of violence after months of relative calm and security.

US military officials are concerned that the onslaught will raise the prospect of Awakening Council members dispersing out of fear, causing the collapse of one of their key strategies to fight al-Qaeda in Iraq. 

Members of the Awakening Council are becoming increasingly frustrated with the Shia-dominated Iraqi government, which has yet to fulfill its promise to integrate them into the military and police force. Some political observers are worried the situation would further aggravate the mistrust between Sunnis and Shia, leading to fresh sectarian violence throughout the country.

Inside Iraq this week looks at the potential risks of a US strategy which arms more than 80,000 Sunni volunteers to fight al-Qaeda, and the potential of a backfire if the Shia government continues to drag its feet to accommodate the Sunnis in the political process. 

Our guests this week:

Saad Naji Jawad, a professor of Political Science at Baghdad University, and Salah Al-Shaikhli, a former Iraqi ambassador to the UK.

Watch part one of this episode of Inside Iraq on Youtube

Watch part two of this episode of Inside Iraq on Youtube

This episode of Inside Iraq aired on Friday, February 1, 2008

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Source: Al Jazeera