I concur with Ackerman et al that Maliki is taking a very serious gamble by moving against the “Awakening” leadership. The success of the Iraqi Army in Basra and Baghdad (albeit with US support) has been greater than I expected, but challenging the Sunni elite is a different job altogether. I’m guessing that Maliki thinks he needs to handle this now, while US forces are still in country and prepared to back him up. He’s probably right about that; the US pretty much has to back Maliki, even if the campaign means a substantial increase in violence.
It’s important to acknowledge that this is the inevitable outcome of the “Awakening” strategy. Strengthening and legitimizing Sunni elites directly undercuts the authority and capacity of the Iraqi central government. Conflict is unavoidable.