When the US army gave weapons to the Sunni tribes, the process was managed directly, with US observers trying their best to ensure that weapons were only used in the fight against Al Qaeda and not for any other reasons.
Today the situation is obviously very different. For one thing, US army members are restricted to a few military bases and these are supervised by the Iraqi government. Secondly it would be extremely difficult to get weapons to potential fighters inside Sunni cities because many of these are controlled by the IS group. Even if weapons could be delivered, there would be no way of monitoring that they were being used for their intended purpose.
Any US politicians and analysts who know Iraq, know all this. Which has led some in Iraq to come up with more conspiracy theories – of which the US is already often the subject. The same theorists say that what the US is actually doing is putting pressure on the Iraqi government over the National Guard issue.
They also say that recent events show that this pressure is working. A few days ago the government announced that volunteers who wanted to fight the IS group could register for training in Anbar city. Local news service, Bas, reported that 15,000 volunteers had come forward in the province itself. The government promised to arm them shortly.
Meanwhile rumours are now rife that Shiite militias want to attack IS-held locations in Anbar to try and counter any such plans to directly arm Sunni fighters. Basically they want to get there first and get the job done. Nobody knows whether this is true or not. What is certain though is that the next few months are going to see truly significant developments in Iraqi politics and security.