A major Iraqi political party has called on the Iraqi government to integrate the so-called Awakening Councils into the country's regular security forces, it emerged on Thursday.
A spokesman for the Iraqi National Accord Front, a mainly Sunni Islamist coalition, said that the Awakening Councils, which were instrumental in bringing the Sunni resistance into the pro-US fold and in beating back al-Qaeda, should be brought into the political mainstream, reported dpa.
"Integrating the Awakening Councils into the Iraqi security forces is a demand by our front and a reward for the Awakenings Councils' efforts," wrote Selim Abdellah in a statement published on the NAF's website late on Wednesday.
The Awakening Councils (also known as Sons of Iraq) are some 99,000 Sunni tribe members, who, repulsed by al-Qaeda's killings of civilians, allied themselves with US forces. They crushed al-Qaeda militants and succeeded in expelling a large number of militants since 2005.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki previously made a commitment to integrate 20 per cent of the Awakenings Councils in the Iraqi security forces.
However, the Iraqi Defence Ministry had also said that it planned to disband the Awakening Councils as a military force, to prevent it becoming a separate military entity.