Tensions have been brewing between the tribal sheikhs and the IIP for a while. As Time magazine reported a few months ago, the Awakening leadership had wanted U.S. troops to remain in Anbar until after the elections to ensure a free and fair vote. However, the handover to the Iraqi government took place back in September. Ever since, the Iraqi government has arrested a number of the Anbar tribal leaders, with some taking refuge with U.S. troops for fear of being detained.
Even then tribal leaders admitted that these measures could push many of their fighters back into the arms of the al-Qaeda-led insurgency. Now finding that their participation in the Iraqi elections was thwarted by possible voter fraud at the hands of the IIP, which proclaimed itself the winner, Anbar stands at the brink of civil war. “We said we will transform from a political entity to an armed wing against the electoral commission and the IIP because we discovered fraud,” one leader told Reuters.