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    13 September 2007

    Architect of "Anbar Awakening" killed in Ramadi

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    The big international news this morning was the murder of Sheik Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha, leader of the Anbar Salvation Council (a.k.a. the Anbar Awakening) and a very shady figure (one I wouldn't have placed as much hope as President Bush did in saving Western Iraq and salvaging his Middle East fiasco). This is a obvious inconvenience for the progress made in al Anbar province by Iraqis but hopefully not a death blow. Sure, some will say that this will unite Sunnis against al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) just like the mass killing of hundreds of Yazidi Kurds was to do back in August. It probably wont. Some, led by General Petraeus, will insist that this was AQI. But there is no evidence yet. Similarly, although the culprit of the mass killing of the Yazidis is said to have been killed and was claimed to be a member of AQI, the complexities of Iraq play host to numerous other scenarios. The same goes for todays news. As unpopular as AQI is currently in al Anbar, so is cooperation with the occupation (US) forces. This could very well have been the work of Iraqi nationalists (most likely Sunni).

    Writes Marc Lynch:
    ...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.

    In other news from Iraq, the reconciliation process appears to be on the verge of taking another step backwards as the much anticipated oil law compromise faces more hurdles.

    I'm sure the White House spin machine will make this all sound like good news in the Presidents speech to the nation tonight.

    [UPDATE 5:02 PM]
    It didn't take the central Iraqi government long. The attack was al Qaeda and it will solidify the "awakening". Wishful thinking, but as this weeks testimony has made clear: all we really have is hope.

    On a side note, Sheik Abu Risha's Anbar Salvation Council is blaming the Iraqi government for the murder... Aside from pointing out how complex the situation is in Iraq and even in the homogeneous al Anbar province as discussed above, it says a lot about the likelihood of the "awakening" becoming friend to the current Baghdad government.

    Posted by Geoff

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