BAGHDAD - Resistance to occupation seems to have risen after the assassination
last month of Abdul Sattar Abu Risha, head of the al-Bu Risha tribe. Abu Risha
had begun to cooperate actively with US forces.
Abu Risha was killed Sep. 13 when a bomb exploded outside his house in the
restive al-Anbar province to the west of Baghdad. His tribe is a branch of the
powerful al-Dulaim tribe in al-Anbar.
The Bush administration used Abu Risha to send messages to many parties and
groups in Iraq. The week before Abu Risha was killed, US President George
W. Bush met with him in Iraq, and claimed that al-Anbar province now suggested
"what the future of Iraq can look like."
"Bush kept his mouth shut when his little collaborator was killed despite
all the protection he had," a young man from Ramadi, capital of al-Anbar
province, told IPS. "This was and will be the end of all those who take
the path of collaborating with the occupation."
Abu Risha, who had been arrested by Saddam Hussein, became the centerpiece
of Bush administration efforts to show that its troops surge in Iraq had been
Many Iraqis, even one of Abu Risha's distant cousins, think differently.
"Sattar was a common thief, and we all knew him to be chief of a highway
robbers gang," Salim Abu Risha told IPS in Baghdad. "He and his gang
brought shame to our tribe and the whole province, but the Americans tried to
make a hero of him."
It is no secret in Anbar province that Abu Risha's activities were not legal
either before or after the US-led invasion of Iraq. When the US government began
to support the "Awakening of Anbar" led by Sattar Abu Risha, which
operated under the flag of fighting al-Qaeda, some people did begin to think
"Americans always choose the worst of their collaborators to be leaders
of their campaigns," Sheikh Ahmed Ali of the Muslim Scholars Association
told IPS in Baghdad. "Look at the governments and councils they chose to
lead Iraq. This Sattar Abu Risha only provoked a division among the people of
Anbar, and that was exactly what the Americans wanted."
But many saw in Abu Risha an answer to their endless suffering. "We know
what Sattar was, but what could we do but support him," Ali Farhan, who
worked as a captain in Abu Risha's US-backed militia told IPS.
"Those sectarian officials in Baghdad have destroyed our cities and deprived
us of life for over four years, and someone had to do something about it,"
said Farhan, who operated in an Iraqi police uniform. "It is only cooperation
with Americans that could solve the problem."
Other Iraqis say the US strategy of arming and backing certain Sunni militias
has been a huge mistake.
"Americans applied a strategy that has affected some weak brains and hearts,"
former Iraqi Army colonel Jabbar Saed from Fallujah told IPS. "They starved
people, arrested those who opposed their occupation, killed a million Iraqis,
supported sectarian militias and death squads, destroyed infrastructure to increase
the rate of unemployment, and divided Iraqis into sects and now into tribes,
just to make us feel that life would not be possible unless we work for them."
Just Foreign Policy, a US-based independent group, says more than one million
Iraqis have died as a result of the US-led invasion and occupation. The group
is "dedicated to reforming US foreign policy to serve the interests and
reflect the values of the broad majority of Americans, rather than those of
special interests both inside and outside of government."
An Iraqi policeman who referred to himself as Colonel Saed spoke with IPS about
US policy in the siege of Fallujah during 2004 which left thousands dead, and
destroyed much of the city. The crimes committed were not mistakes as US officials
claim, but a well organized and conducted strategy, he said.
"The only factor they did not calculate well was that Iraqis prefer starving
to death to living under the dirty flag of occupiers," Saed said.
(Inter Press Service)