It seems the Pentagon has finally discovered how intrinsic the jobs crisis really is to the level of violence in Iraq.
Army Lt. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, the top U.S. field commander in Iraq, states:
"We need to put the angry young men to work. One of the key hindrances to us establishing stability in Iraq is the failure to get the economy going. A relatively small decrease in unemployment would have a very serious effect on the level of sectarian killing going on."As many groups, including EPIC have argued, widespread unemployment -to the tune of 70% in some areas- is primarily fueling the insurgency and crime syndicates. Lacking alternatives, many of Iraq's unemployed, the youth especially, are being recruited into these dangerous positions. However, most Iraqis do not consider militias or criminal syndicates sustainable occupations, and would readily trade their guns in for a hammer.
For the past 6 months, the Pentagon has been going around and preparing to open approximately 200 factories located all over Iraq, including in some of the most dangerous cities. This effort would employ tens of thousands of Iraqis in the coming months. Furthermore, as each Iraqi supports a family of around 13, this employment drive would have an exponential effect on the welfare of the country.
Not only will Iraqi men no longer be compelled to join militias and crime syndicates, but by being able to provide for their family they will no longer have to rely as much on militias such as Muqtateda Al-Sadr's Mahdi Army which has been known to take care of the basic needs of many Iraqis. These militias will thus have less influence on Iraqis and their power will certainly diminish as a result.
Sure this should have happened a long time ago, but let us still be thankful that is finally happening.