Thanks to Fatima for pointing out the analogy between the Harkis in Algeria and the so-called Awakening Councils in Iraq.
"Harki (adjective from the Arabic harka, standard Arabic haraka حركة, "war party" or "movement", i.e. a group of volunteers, especially soldiers) is the generic term for Muslim Algerians serving as auxiliaries with the French Army, during the Algerian War from 1954 to 1962. The phrase is sometimes extended to cover all Algerian Muslims who supported the French presence in Algeria during this war. Since Algerian independence "Harki" has been used as a derogatory expression within Algeria, or amongst some of the Franco-Algerian community, equating to "collaborator". In France, the term is used to designate the Franco-musulmans rapatriés ("repatriated French Muslims") community living in the country since 1962, and its metropolitan born descendants. In this sense the term Harki now refers to a distinct ethnocultural group, i.e. Franco-Algerian Muslims distinct from other French of Algerian origin or Algerians living in France.
Before the Algerian conflict
Algerian Muslim regular soldiers had served in large numbers with the French "Armée d'Afrique" (Army of Africa) from 1830 as spahis (cavalry) and tirailleurs (lit. skirmisher, i.e. infantry). They played an important part during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 and the First World War (1914–1918).
During World War II North African troops serving with the French Army numbered more than 200,000. They made a major contribution during the liberation of France and the campaigns in Italy and Germany of 1944-45.
Tirailleurs from Algeria, Morocco and West Africa fought in Indochina as part of the French Expeditionary Force until the Fall of Dien Bien Phu (1954).
During the Algerian War
With the outbreak of the Algerian War that same year, the loyalty of the Algerian Muslim soldiers to France inevitably came under heavy strain and some of the regular units were transferred from Algeria to France or Germany, following increased incidences of desertion or small-scale mutiny. As a partial replacement, the French administration recruited the Harkis as irregular militia based in their home villages or towns throughout Algeria. Initially raised as self-defence units, the Harkis, from 1956 on, increasingly served alongside the French Army in the field. They were lightly armed (often only with shotguns), but their knowledge of local terrain and conditions made them valuable auxiliaries to French regular units.
According to General R. Hure (L'Armee d' Afrique 1830-1962), there were by 1960 approximately 150,000 Muslim Algerians serving in the French Army or as auxilaries. In addition to volunteers and conscripts serving in regular units this total took into account 95,000 Harkis (including 20,000 in separate mokhazni district forces and 15,000 in commando de chasse tracking units). It was a recurring claim by the French authorities that more Algerian Muslims were serving with their forces than with those of the nationalist Front de Libération Nationale (FLN).
According to US Army data, possibly compiled at a different date, the Harkis numbered about 180,000, more than total FLN effectives . They were used as guerrilla style units, though mostly in conventional formations. Harkis served either in all-Algerian units commanded by French officers or in mixed units. Other uses included platoon or below sized units attached to French battalions. A third use involved Harkis in intelligence gathering roles, with some reported minor pseudo-operations in support of intelligence collection .
The motives of the Harkis were mixed. The FLN targeted both collaborators and rival nationalist groups and some Algerians enrolled in the Harkis to avenge the deaths of relatives. Others were defectors from the FLN rebel forces who had been persuaded by one means or another to change sides. A major source was from families or other groups who had traditionally given service to France. From the viewpoint of Algerian nationalists all were traitors. However at independence guarantees were given by both signatories of the March 1962 cease fire ("Accords d'Evian" signed by France and the Algerian FLN), that no one, Harkis or Pieds-Noirs (Algerian-born Europeans with French nationality) would suffer reprisals after independence for any action during the civil war......"