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WP Publishes July Interview With Anbar Sheikh

From a reluctant Washington Post:

Sheik Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha, right, founder of Anbar Awakening, arrives for a meeting with tribal leaders in Ramadi, 115 kilometers (70 miles) west of Baghdad, Iraq, on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2007. The most prominent figure in a revolt of Sunni sheiks against al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Risha was killed Thursday Sept. 13, 2007, in an explosion near his home in Anbar province, Iraqi police said.

‘This Isn’t the Way We Want to Spend the Rest of Our Lives’

Friday, September 14, 2007; A07

Iraqi tribal leader Abdul Sattar Abu Risha, who founded the Anbar Salvation Council, also known as the Anbar Awakening movement, one year ago today, was assassinated in Anbar province yesterday by a roadside bomb. On July 30, he spoke at his residential compound in Ramadi with Washington Post military reporter Ann Scott Tyson. Excerpts of the interview below:

* * *

“The terrorists were destroying the city [of Ramadi]. People lost their identity because of that. Al-Qaeda did a lot of bad things here in the province. . . . We called [the tribes] together and said, ‘This isn’t the way we want to spend the rest of our lives.’ And we decided to fight al-Qaeda. . . .

The government never supported us from the beginning. But my tribe is well-known all over Iraq, and we have a well-known history in the Arab world. When I went to them and told them I have the support of my tribe in my province, they said, ‘Okay, we think you’re man enough to get this done.’ I started fighting al-Qaeda… so I was able to prove myself, both to the locals and to the government, and that had a big effect on the prime minister. He helped us to obtain the hiring orders [to hire the tribesmen as police].

The police equipment are few. We don’t have enough. And the numbers of police are not enough. Al-Anbar is a third of Iraq. It equals three Iraqi provinces together and four Arab countries put together. This is a desert, with open terrain, rivers, lakes, wadis [rock-studded valleys]. So the numbers we have are not enough to control the whole province. Right now we’re fighting the terrorists with the U.S. military, so the U.S. forces pulling out at this time would be a disruption for security. I am happy we’ll have a joint defense program with the Americans, an agreement between Iraq and the U.S. long-term

Provincial elections are very important, because the provincial council we have now doesn’t represent everyone, and all serve the Islamic Party. No one in this province likes that party. When we were here and al-Qaeda was slaughtering everyone and putting their knives on our throats, this provincial council never lifted a finger to help anyone in this province… Why didn’t they come out then and declare a war on al-Qaeda? They were afraid to defend their own people.

The Awakening started as a tribal project. Now we have a council that deals with tribal affairs. We have a political side — its job is the elections. We’re going to grab the tribe in one hand and hold onto politics in the other hand. We’ll run for local elections. But I won’t run.

I have a security plan… If al-Qaeda gets away from the Awakening, they won’t get away from the American forces. We are allies in the war against terrorism

We thank everyone [in the United States] who is sending their sons here. I’d like to let them know their sons in Anbar are in the safest place they ever could be.”

This is a very moving interview.

But why did the Post wait until this man was dead to post his very pro-American and pro-surge remarks? This wasn’t news back in July?

And it would be nice to see the full transcript.

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, September 14th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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