With one month until the Australian election, the issue of Iraq has been discussed only briefly in the campaign. After all, they’ve been over one million Iraqi deaths and millions of displaced refugees. There’s certainly no chance this kind of news will even enter the minds of our politicians (or the sheep-like journalists following their every breath):
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 U.S. 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, U.S. 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 centrepiece of Bush administration efforts to show that its troops surge in Iraq had been a success.
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 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. When the U.S. 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 differently.
“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.”
What we are also seeing with this strategy is, to put it plainly, an attempt to terrorize a civilian population into submission. Let’s strip away all the political gamesmanship and partisan point scoring that encrusts the Beltway debate — that hideous masque of red death, where fine-dining blowhards prate and prance to the music of keening mothers and dying soldiers. Let’s break down the on-message jargon and lumps of propaganda into the base elements of truth. For what the air campaign, and the “offensives into neighborhoods,” are really saying is brutally frank.