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We are giving armor, vehicles, fule, money, weapons, and ammo to those who are killing our troops.

US arms Sunni dissidents in risky bid to contain al-Qaida fighters in Iraq

The US military has embarked on a new and risky strategy in Iraq by arming Sunni insurgents in the hope that they will tackle the extremist al-Qaida in Iraq.

The US high command this month gave permission to its officers on the ground to negotiate arms deals with local leaders. Arms, ammunition, body armour and other equipment, as well as cash, pick-up trucks and fuel, have already been handed over in return for promises to turn on al-Qaida and not attack US troops.

The US military in Baghdad is trying to portray the move as arming disenchanted Sunnis who are rising up in their neighbourhoods against their former allies, al-Qaida and its foreign fighters. But the reality on the ground is more complex, with little sign that the US will be able to control the weapons once they are handed over. The danger is that the insurgents could use these weapons against American troops or in the civil conflict against Shia Muslims. Similar efforts by the US in other wars have backfired, the most spectacular being the arming of guerrillas against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

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