Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Ghost of Anbar (and the lies just keep on coming)

Shortly after the W's visit to the killing fields of Mesopotamia, our alleged ally in Anbar Province, "Shiek" Abu Risha, to whom the sharp decrease if not end of Sunni hostilities towards our troops is largely credited, was assassinated. Abu Risha's death "is a tragic loss," said Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq. "It's a terrible loss for Anbar province and all of Iraq. It shows how significant his importance was, and it shows al-Qaeda in Iraq remains a very dangerous and barbaric enemy." Bush, in an address to the nation on September 13, noted the death of "one of the brave tribal sheiks who helped lead the revolt" against al-Qaeda in Iraq and said his fellow Sunni leaders fighting the extremists "can count on the continued support of the United States."

According to Greg Palast, the Shiek was not all he was cracked up to be:

"1. Sheik Abu Risha wasn't a sheik.

"2. He wasn't killed by Al Qaeda.

"3. The new alliance with former insurgents in Anbar is as fake as the sheik - and a murderous deceit."


Palast's daredevil cameraman, Rick Rowley made an amazing film expose of just who this guy was, which was shown on Al-Jazeeri English channel. Check it out:
Part One




Part Two



Here is some more of Palast's commentary:
"Why was 'sheik' Abu Risha so important? As the New York Times put it ... , 'Abu Risha had become a charismatic symbol of the security gains in Sunni areas that have become a cornerstone of American plans to keep large numbers of troops in Iraq though much of next year.'

"In other words, Abu Risha was the PR hook used to sell the 'success' of the surge.


"The sheik wasn't a sheik. He was a fake. While proclaiming to Rick that he was 'the leader of all the Iraqi tribes,' Abu lead no one. But for a reported sum in the millions in cash for so-called, 'reconstruction contracts,' Abu Risha was willing to say he was Napoleon and Julius Caesar and do the hand-shakie thing with Bush on camera.


"Notably, Rowley and his camera caught up with Abu Risha on his way to a 'business trip' to Dubai, money laundering capital of the Middle East.


"There are some real sheiks in Anbar, like Ali Hathem of the dominant Dulaimi tribe, who told Rick Abu Risha was a con man. Where was his tribe, this tribal leader? 'The Americans like to create characters like Disney cartoon heros.' Then Ali Hathem added, 'Abu Risha is no longer welcome' in Anbar.


"'Not welcome' from a sheik in Anbar is roughly the same as a kiss on both cheeks from the capo di capi. Within days, when Abu Risha returned from Dubai to Dulaimi turf in Ramadi, Bush's hand-sheik was whacked.
"On Thursday, Bush said Abu Risha was killed, 'fighting Al Qaeda' - and the White House issued a statement that the sheik was 'killed by al Qaeda.'

"Bullshit.


"There ain't no Easter Bunny and 'Al Qaeda' ain't in Iraq, Mr. Bush. It was very cute, on the week of the September 11 memorials, to tie the death of your Anbar toy-boy to bin Laden's Saudi hijackers. But it's a lie. Yes, there is a group of berserkers who call themselves 'Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.' But they have as much to do with the real Qaeda of bin Laden as a Rolling Stones "tribute" band has to do with Mick Jagger.


"Who got Abu Risha? Nothing - NOTHING - moves in Ramadi without the approval of the REAL tribal sheiks. They were none-too-happy, as Hathem noted, about the millions the US handed to Risha. The sheiks either ordered the hit - or simply gave the bomber free passage to do the deed.

"So who are these guys, the sheiks who lead the Sunni tribes of Anbar - the potentates of the Tamimi, Fallaji, Obeidi, Zobal and Jumaili tribes? Think of them as the Sopranos of Arabia. They are also members of the so-called 'Awakening Council' - getting their slice of the millions handed out - which they had no interest in sharing with Risha.

"But creepy and deadly or not, these capi of the desert were effective in eliminating 'Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.' Indeed, as US military so proudly pointed out to Rick, the moment the sheiks declared their opposition to Al Qaeda - i.e. got the payments from the US taxpayers - Al Qaeda instantly disappeared.


"This miraculous military change, where the enemy just evaporates, has one explanation: the sheiks ARE al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. Just like the Sopranos extract 'protection' payments from New Jersey businesses, the mobsters of Anbar joined our side when we laid down the loot.

"What's wrong with that? After all, I'd rather send a check than send our kids from Columbus to fight them.

"But there's something deeply, horribly wrong with dealing with these killers. They still kill. With new US protection, weapons and cash, they have turned on the Shia of Anbar. Fifteen thousand Shia families from a single district were forced at gunpoint to leave Anbar. Those moving too slowly were shot. Kids and moms too.

"Do the Americans know about the ethnic cleansing of Anbar by our erstwhile 'allies'? Rick's film shows US commanders placing their headquarters in the homes abandoned by terrorized Shia.

"Rick's craziest move was to go and find these Shia refugees from Anbar. They were dumped, over a hundred thousand of them, in a cinder block slum with no running water in Baghdad. They are under the 'protection' of the Mahdi Army, another group of cutthroats. But at least these are Shia cutthroats.


"So the great 'success' of the surge is our arming and providing cover for ethnic cleansing in Anbar. Nice, Mr. Bush. And with the US press 'embedded,' we won't get the real story. Even Democrats are buying into the Anbar 'awakening' fairy tale.


"An Iraqi government official frets that giving guns and cover to the Anbar gang is like adopting a baby crocodile. 'A crocodile is not a pet,' he told Rick. It will soon grow to devour you. But what could the puppet do but complain about his strings?


"This Iraqi got it right: the surge is a crock."

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