Opponents of the late head of the Anbar Salvation Council, Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Risha competed to pay their condolences, stepping over each other in order to reach the forefront in what can be considered a one-upmanship gathering designed to invest in the death of Sheikh Risha; however their attempts can not fool those following current events carefully.
Head of the list of the “Iraqi Accord Front” Adnan al-Dulaimi called for the “formation of a collective leadership of the heads of tribes so as to fill the vacuum left by Sheikh Abu Risha”. He called upon “The (Iraqi) government and American forces to offer considerable assistance to remedy the situation and work together to complete the mission of Abu Risha.”
The truth of the matter is that during Abu Risha lifetime, we did not witness any remarkable efforts by al-Dulaimi to support Abu Risha nor efforts to endorse the Anbar model which was based on defeating the remnants of al-Qaeda and rejecting extremism. This is exactly what Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Risha, who refused to play the sectarian game, actually did.
Abu Risha’s mission was completed when the people of Anbar escort him to his grave and courageously declared that, “There’s no God but Allah, and al-Qaeda is the enemy of God”, leaving little doubt regarding the terrorist group’s involvement in Risha’s assassination.
Just like al-Dulaimi, the Maliki administration came to the funeral to offer its condolences, forgetting that it had previously warned the world from providing Abu Risha with arms or support, under the pretext of security of the State, something that we’ve yet to see in Baghdad, let alone Anbar. And least we forget that it was Abu Risha who told General Patraeus, “I’m ready to go to Baghdad to fight al-Qaeda after we finish the fight in Anbar.”
And just as we abhor and condemn sectarianism, we abhor the curtailing the state for the sake of a tribe, which brings up the question: Where is the state in Iraq?
As much as the death of Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Risha is a sad event, it did deliver a message to the world that Anbar rejects terrorism and the terrorizing of Iraq.
Abu Risha was not an American agent, he was a courageous man who managed to accomplish what Adnan al-Dulaimi or Maliki failed to do. He is a man who took up arms against Sunni extremists and was able to neutralize them. Can those in Baghdad’s Green Zone make the same claim about the Shiite death squads? I do not think so.
When former Iraqi Prime Minister Dr. Iyad Allawi was in power, he fought extremists in Fallujah and Najaf and we supported him in his endeavor as he tried to establish the authority of the state. Therefore, today we support the Anbar Salvation Council which aimed at achieving security, expelling terrorism and combating those who supported it with tribes made up of both Sunnis and Shiites, further proof that not all Shiites are extremists and conversely not all Sunnis fundamentalists.
The death of Sheikh Risha did not leave a vacuum as stated by al-Dulaimi and Mr. Maliki’s investigation will yield no results. So instead of building a statue in honor of Sheikh Risha, the government of Baghdad should build bridges of trust with his brother Sheikh Ahmad Abu Risha and the Salvation Council as long as Anbar is not a source of rebellion against Iraq’s Arabism or a cause of sectarianism.
Arab countries, especially neighboring ones that are concerned with the issue of Iraq’s Arabism, should reach out to the Anbar Salvation Council, with all types of aid and assistance. Clearly, this is not because the Council serves the Americans, but because it serves the idea of Arabism and the security of Iraq.