When the news are contradictory and when anyone you ask gives a different answer then it's time to search the truth by your self, collect all what you hear mix it together and extract what you believe is the pure truth, and that's what I did about the events and changes in Adhamyia district and Raghiba Khatoon and the sudden absolute control of the awakening movement over the area which was considered one of the strongest strongholds of Alqaeda.
I went there by my self to see what the people are talking about, and to be honest I had a feeling's conflict, I was relived by the great number of cars roaming the streets, the walking people, the shops which are getting ready to re-open and the feeling of settlement, kids playing soccer in the street till late hours, men and women walking in the streets and the fixing campaign for the lights and gardens; workers are taking care of the gardens and squares which hadn't been taken care of for more than a year. I was worried because the majority of the awakening members are just kids, 14-16 years old carrying AK's and wearing vests(not all of them) and also because what the residents say about the background of these kids and men!
when you enter Adhamyia you will find a checkpoint almost every 100m, these checkpoints are for the awakening movement, they wear a gray shirt, t-shirt... whatever as long as it's gray, and the bottom is their choice whether black, white or red, it's their choice, they have no uniform but the gray top. they use their private cars. Majority of them are kids, there are some older men and young men with them but most of them are teenagers, all of them (or the vast majority) are residents of Adhamyia. Even the slogans on the walls have been changed to "Long live Alnoman lions, down with Alqaeda"..... and things like that.
what the people say; many of them aren't good members of the society and many of them were with Alqaeda till a recent time and some of the residents hates them because they are "agents and tools of the occupation and the Americans" as they say, but from my personal experience when they searched the car or stopped us, I found them very polite and smooth, but I was worried because men at this age don't have good judgment and they are rather reckless and can't be anticipated, some of them were playing soccer with the kids with the AK on their shoulder! a very funny scene but comforting at the same time.
About the sounds of explosions and confrontations; I asked the people there about it, they said that it was confrontations between AQ and awakening at the first days and later it was the awakening helping the troops to find explosives and detonating them (they know where they are better than anyone else because as I mentioned many were ex-members of AQ), some of the confrontations are just training as the residents alleged, some people said that they destroy civilians' cars pretending that it's explosive (I doubt it), but who knows? they even found a house that is occupied by two old women that was filled with explosives. The situation is a bit settled these two days with fewer explosions and confrontations. it seems that either AQ had given up (and that's too good to believe) or they are planning what to do and preparing them selves (let's hope they will fail in that).
Awakening got good control over the area, they were helped by the troops to achieve that, it seems that they want to do good, and they want a better future for the neighborhood, but who knows? things shift rapidly in Iraq, but till this moment I believe that they want to do good. Well, I should be more specific in my words; they were ordered and directed to be good, because they are for money, and that's very obvious, Alqaeda didn't pay the ex-members like the awakening did specially if we knew that they were low ranked members and tools in it (not all of them), but who cares as long as they were ordered to do good, and settle the things in the neighborhood, but what I care for and what concerns me is that they should always be under control and observation otherwise they might end up like Alqaeda.
the payment of the awakening as what I have heard is like this: from 14-16 years old 250$ a month, older than 16 450$, the payment of the officers starts from 600$ and up.
I believe what they do is for money and personally I don't care about that as long as they will get peace back to the area and as long as they respect the residents and be polite with them, as long as they are under control so that the minute they want to start troubles they could be stopped immediately.I couldn't take any pictures of them although I wanted to, I didn't think that it's a good idea.
Bottom line is that the peace and settlement can be felt in the area, good future appear in the horizon, but no one can be sure, because you can't trust ex-members of Alqaeda or teenager mercenary, no one knows their intention, but what they are doing to this moment is very good.