Shiek Abdul-Satter Abu Risha, one of the Sunni leaders in Anbar who went from enemy to ally, has been killed:
BAGHDAD - The most prominent figure in a U.S.-backed revolt of Sunni sheiks against al-Qaida in Iraq was killed Thursday by a bomb planted near his home in Anbar province, 10 days after he met with President Bush, police and tribal leaders said.
Of course, the killing was almost immediately attributed to AQI, but there are more likely killers. A lot of Sunni's hated Abu Risha.
Nothing could have been more predictable than the murder of Abu Risha, the man most closely identified with America's Anbar strategy. He was the public face of the turn against al-Qaeda, and Petraeus immediately said that "it shows Al Qaeda in Iraq remains a very dangerous and barbaric enemy." But there's no reason to assume that al-Qaeda killed him - I'd guess that one of the nationalist insurgency groups, the ones which current American rhetoric pretends don't exist - is a more likely suspect. Other tribes deeply resented him. The major nationalist insurgency groups had recently issued a series of statements denouncing people who would illegitimately seize the fruits of their victorious jihad - of whom he was the prime example. All those photographs which swamped the Arab media showing him shaking hands with President Bush made him even more a marked man than before.
By the way, while shrub and Pertaeus proudly pointed to Abu Risha as an important ally, this guy was about as cruel and corrupt a partner as you could find.
An hour with Bush was really quite a coup for Sattar Abu Risha. The head of the Anbar Salvation Council has a rather unsavory reputation as one of the shadiest figures in the Sunni community, and as recently as June was reportedly on his way out. As a report in Time described him,
Sheikh Sattar, whose tribe is notorious for highway banditry, is also building a personal militia, loyal not to the Iraqi government but only to him. Other tribes — even those who want no truck with terrorists — complain they are being forced to kowtow to him. Those who refuse risk being branded as friends of al-Qaeda and tossed in jail, or worse. In Baghdad, government delight at the Anbar Front's impact on al-Qaeda is tempered by concern that the Marines have unwittingly turned Sheikh Sattar into a warlord who will turn the province into his personal fiefdom.
In June, Abu Risha's position in the Anbar Salvation Council came under a fairly intense internal challenge. As the Washington Post reported at the time,
Ali Hatem Ali Suleiman, 35, a leader of the Dulaim confederation, the largest tribal organization in Anbar, said that the Anbar Salvation Council would be dissolved because of growing internal dissatisfaction over its cooperation with U.S. soldiers and the behavior of the council's most prominent member, Abdul Sattar Abu Risha. Suleiman called Abu Risha a "traitor" who "sells his beliefs, his religion and his people for money."
That's our guy. That's the pillar of America's Sunni strategy, and a key player in Fred Kagan's fantasy life.And I didn't even mention the widely discussed, sensational rumor that he had skipped town with $75 million in American cash - which evidently wasn't true, or else was just a "misunderstanding" which has been "resolved", but does speak to endless circulation of unpleasant rumors about the guy's corruption and mercenary behavior.
It's a sad commentary that shrub was proud to ally with someone like this. We funded and armed someone who was closer to a mafia don that a leader for the people. Here's a piece of daily news from Iraq:
Hundreds of Shiite and Sunni Iraqis marched in protest on Wednesday against the barrier the US military is putting in to separate the Ghazaliya (Sunni) and Shu'la
(increasingly Shiite) neighborhoods in Baghdad. Such physical separation of districts has been a major tool for the military in cutting down on death squad violence.
Back in August, I posted this example of extortion in Anbar. The people we armed and funded were then turning around and robbing the reconstruction projects.
BAGHDAD — Iraq's deadly insurgent groups have financed their war against U.S. troops in part with hundreds of thousands of dollars in U.S. rebuilding funds that they've extorted from Iraqi contractors in Anbar province.
The payments, in return for the insurgents' allowing supplies to move and construction work to begin, have taken place since the earliest projects in 2003, Iraqi contractors, politicians and interpreters involved with reconstruction efforts said.
A fresh round of rebuilding spurred by the U.S. military's recent alliance with some Anbar tribes — 200 new projects are scheduled — provides another opportunity for militant groups such as al Qaeda in Iraq to siphon off more U.S. money, contractors and politicians warn.
"Now we're back to the same old story in Anbar. The Americans are handing out contracts and jobs to terrorists, bandits and gangsters," said Sheik Ali Hatem Ali Suleiman, the deputy leader of the Dulaim, the largest and most powerful tribe in Anbar. He was involved in several U.S. rebuilding contracts in the early days of the war, but is now a harsh critic of the U.S. presence.
This is the "Anbar success" that Petraeus and shrub are crowing about. When shrub comes on TV tonight to say "progress" as many times as he can, remember that this is the model that he wants to spread.