(AFP) – 10 hours ago
BAGHDAD — Most of Iraq's remaining 40,000 anti-Qaeda militiamen have seen their pay cut by 20 percent this year following a decision by parliament, an aide to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki told AFP on Tuesday.
"I have been obliged to reduce by 20 percent the wages of Sahwa (Awakening) members who earn more than 200,000 dinars ($158/120 euros) a month, although the remainder will not see their pay cut," said Maliki's national reconciliation adviser Amir al-Khuzai.
"I was forced to take this decision after the parliamentary finance committee cut by a third the national reconciliation budget for 2012 which had initially been earmarked to total 239 billion dinars ($190 million)," he said.
"It is the committee that is responsible for this situation."
The Sahwa were formed from among Sunni Arab tribesmen and former rebels who joined forces with the US military against Al-Qaeda from late 2006, helping turn the tide of the insurgency.
The Shiite-led government has a policy of trying to find them new jobs in the regular security forces or elsewhere in the public sector and their numbers are now down to just under 40,000 from a peak of some 87,000 four years ago.
"We are trying to integrate the rest in the public sector," Khuzai said.