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Maliki Imposing Apartheid Regime in Iraq – Abu Risha | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat—Head of the Iraqi Awakening Council, prominent Sunni leader Ahmed Abu Risha has stated that “Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki withdrawing the security detail that was assigned to me will not stop me from standing with my people for pride, honor, and dignity.” Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Abu Risha emphasized that, “The problem is that whenever Maliki disagrees with anybody he makes accusations against them including terrorist charges, involvement with Al-Qaeda, corruption, and other accusations. Unfortunately, such methods are not acceptable. In addition to this, my history is well-known, for I fought against terrorism and this is something that former US President George W. Bush acknowledged.”

Abu Risha asserted that, “The sacrifices and blood of the people of Anbar, most prominently martyred Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Risha, led to the stability of Iraq as a whole at a time when the Green Zone was like a prison that nobody—including Maliki himself—could leave.”

He added, “This is not all, for while we were fighting terrorism and Al-Qaeda in Anbar province, Maliki could not even visit his family in Karbala.”

Responding to a question about the impact of Maliki’s decision to withdraw his security detail, Abu Risha said, “This decision will not have any effect on me because I am protected by my family and all the Anbar tribes. I want to confirm that I am present here, along with my family, in the squares along with the protesters. These are squares that are full of honor and dignity, which is far better than standing with Mr. Maliki or anyone else.”

Abu Risha accused the Iraqi Prime Minister of “making catastrophic mistakes for Iraq.” He said, “The latest massacre in Fallujah is just one piece of evidence of this, and we are calling on him to surrender the killers to the courts in Anbar so that they can face justice.”

He added, “I am not upset, but I am saying that when we safeguarded Anbar province from terrorism, which brought stability to Iraq as a whole, this achievements was the result of the sacrifices of the people of Anbar and the Sunni community. This is something that we secured for Maliki. This is something that he must be aware of and not ignore, because history is merciless.”

Against the backdrop of the demonstrations and sit-ins that continue to rage throughout Anbar province, Abu Risha told Asharq Al-Awsat, “We will continue until we secure all our legitimate demands, particularly as many of these demands do not require committees to be formed or parliamentary sessions to be held.”

He asked, “What does the issue of concrete barriers being present in all Sunni districts of the capital Baghdad—al-Amiriya, al-Khadra, al-Jama’a, Ghazaliya, and elsewhere—have to do with parliament or the cabinet? Maliki, as commander-in-chief, can pick up the phone and call the commander of Baghdad Operations and tell him remove these barriers from these districts that have practically turned into large prisons.”

Abu Risha also accused the Iraqi government of following an “Apartheid policy” with the country’s Sunnis, comparing this to “Apartheid under the Pretoria regime.”

As for the steps being taken by the government to respond to the protesters demands, Abu Risha said, “The protesters, within the framework of the dignified parliament, have formed committees to monitor these steps and give our response.” He confirmed that, “We do not have impossible demands; rather all that we are asking for is greater equality and justice, particularly as this will restore confidence in them (the government).”

Abu Risha said that the Baghdad government would respond to the Anbar protesters demands “if they want to be sincere in their dealings with the people, in a fair and just manner without marginalization and exclusion” adding “this is precisely what is happening now, as has been recognized by senior governmental officials themselves.”

For his part, a senior Iraqi army officer working at Anbar Operational Command confirmed that, “We received orders from the Iraqi prime minister yesterday (Tuesday) withdrawing all members of Sheikh Abu Risha’s protection detail.” AFP reported that Sheikh Abu Risha had previously been assigned a 35-member protection detail made up of members of the Iraqi police and military.

Sheikh Abu Risha is the leader of the Iraqi Awakening Council based in Anbar which played a decisive role in chasing the Al-Qaeda terrorist organization out of the province. He took over following the death of his brother Abdul Sattar Abu Risha, who founded the Iraqi Awakening Council in September 2006.

For his part, Adnan al-Alwani, an Anbar tribal leader, stressed that, “We will protect Abu Risha, we do not need Maliki’s guards, for we are the ones who fought the terrorists when there was not a single police officer or soldier in Anbar province.”

He added, “We will kill anybody who wants to spread destruction in Anbar, whether this is Al-Qaeda or anyone else.”

While Abdul Razzaq al-Shamari, a senior member of the political committee of the Anbar Sit-In Movement, emphasized that, “This is evidence that the government has no loyalty even to its own friends that were a major reason for the success of the political process in Iraq after they confronted the Al-Qaeda threat.” He added, “Such behavior is evidence that this government is a sectarian one.”