When we hear talk of progress in Iraq, administration officials often point to the success in Al-Anbar province, where attacks on US troops have declined in previous months.
They had attributed this success to Abu Risha (recently deceased), who was credited with allying Sunni tribes to fight against al Qaeda in Iraq. (shown below with Pres. Bush)
So the new US military strategy this year has been arming and funding Sunni Arab tribes that have promised to fight Al Qaeda militants. These are the same militants to which they were previously allied when they were fighting against American forces. This strategy is quite controversial, amid fears that we are building up Sunni forces for a future civil war in Iraq, especially with the predominantly Shiite government.
What you won’t hear about in the news is that Abu Rashi was not a shiek; in fact, he was no longer welcome in Al-Anbar province. He claimed to be the “leader of all Iraqi tribes,” but he lead no one. He was a PR stunt used to sell the success of the surge in Iraq to the American people, in return for reported millions in ‘reconstruction contracts’.
The real cause of the success in Al-Anbar province was ethnic cleansing by the Sunni tribes that we are continuing to arm. Thousands of Shi’a families were forced to leave their homes at gunpoint, then dumped in slums on the skirts of Baghdad.
If this is of concern to you, and you can spare twenty minutes, I highly recommend the following video: