Baghdad, Nov 12 : Analysts in Iraq have said that Al-Qaeda jihadists were weakened but may regain influence in the country, especially if integration of the anti-Qaeda 'Sahwa forces' into Iraq's security structure proves to be unsuccessful.
The recently begun process of transferring supervision of the Sahwa (Awakening) groups from the US military to the Iraqi government is the key issue, according to Mohammed al-Masri, of the University of Jordan Centre for Strategic Studies.
"The inclusion of these Sahwa tribes in the security apparatus is the question. If they are able do to this swiftly and quickly, Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) will be even more limited. If they don't do it, these tribes can go back to revive AQI all over again. They can reinvent themselves as AQI-like organisations," The News quoted al-Masri as telling the media.
Al-Qaeda supporters have been hunted down by Iraqi and US forces as well as by tribal militias, and in some areas of Iraq have been defeated or have simply fled.
However, elsewhere they are regrouping or forming sleeper cells awaiting better days, analysts believe. "They are no longer a menace at the political level. They have become a problem that we can manage," said Abdel Karim Khalaf, spokesman for the Iraqi Interior Ministry.
He said that the enrolment of the Sahwa tribal militias in several provinces alongside the American army and Iraqi police has been a "determining factor".