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13 September 2007

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Abu Sinan

Just a few days after meeting Bush, shaking his hand and enjoying a photo opportunity.

I wonder if Bush is still going to run with his success in al Anbar theme in his speech?

mo

A *good* sign for Iraq. Obviously I make that statement with a very qualified distinction of the word good.

AQ assasinating people is no big deal in of itself.

But that they are assasinating a tribal chief means they are declaring an all out war agains the Anbar Sunnis. That is a very dangerous move since they are not on "home turf" and do not have local sympathy and as so many of them have come from other Arab countries. Therefore they must be worried or desperate or both.

My prediction is that this may be the move that percipitates a Sunni backlash against those they have so far tolerated.

The Anbar anti-AQ alliance may have have just become very much wider.

JJackson

mo:
Your assumption is that this was AQ but Sattar was very arrogant in his statements and I would not rule out other Sunni tribes or even a Shia faction (although they may have more difficulty projecting power in this area). The only player I would be raesonably happy to rule out are the US forces.

Jose

Mo, another way to look at the assassination is that maybe the Sunni tribes haven't really turned against AQI just the $heik$.

FDChief

Question is - are we sure that this guy was kacked by AQI? Could this have been a hit ordered by the Shiite government, afraid that this guy could be the next Saddam? By Tehran, concerned that he and his movement represent a threat to their influence in Baghdad? By another Sunni sheik, resentful of his position or vying for power? By a criminal gang or gangs, worried that wfter AQI his milita would clamp down on lawlessness in their turf? By a rogue element or elements in the various free-lance militiaries that seems to be running tame around the place out of sheer boredom, or just to keep their hand in? A CIA/OGA hit on one of their assets that was going rogue, or was pushing them for something, or threatening to go to the Saudis/Syrians for help because the U.S. was too stingy or getting hinky about his future plans for the Sunni coup against Maliki?

Who the hell knows?

And will the "Sunni backlash" be directed at one, the other, or all of the above?

My entire objection to all the excitement about this is that WE DON'T KNOW. We have no idea where this will end, where it's going and who's leading/driving it there. It's like watching jello wrestling through a pinhole in the bar wall. All we know for sure is that people are killing other people and right now the people getting killed are the ones we like to see dead. Mostly. As far as why the killing is happening, where it will lead and whether its going to be "good" for American foreign policy in the long run?

I'd just as soon be in a bar betting on the jello wrestlers.

Fred

Mo, how do we know it was 'AQI' that killed him?

If it wasn't AQ, I leave it to your imagination who it could have been...

VietnamVet

Colonel,

The three dimensional battle against "Terrorism" actually is being fought here in the United States. It is identical to conflict in strategy in the Cold War between Containment and "Bomb them back to the Stone Age". Unlike the Cold War [except for Vietnam], attrition, "kill every Islamoterroist", is the official American war strategy. Attrition has two major flaws: 1) if the other side can reproduce more warriors it is a losing game and 2) the Distributor of death and destruction looses the high moral ground. The basic problem with "kill'em all and let Allah sort them out" is that there will never be enough Christian Soldiers to control the Middle East oil fields.

Not that you would notice, but there are hints that Containment followers are beginning to pull a few strings in the middle layers of the government; U.S. & Mahdi Army — another marriage of convenience in Iraq.

If Iowans can convince Hillary Clinton to come out for Containment and promotion of a secular realistic foreign policy based on alliances and on what is best for American citizens, Democrats have a chance to regaining control for decades.

dws

My first reaction was that other tribesmen killed him. We shouldn't assume that AQI did it. He was a wheeler-dealer (in Arabic I think the word is "Sheikh") and the object of much dislike. It's not impossible that the photo A.S. refers to above helped push him to his grave. (The Abu Aardvark blog has been writing of this for months.) Another layer, indeed.

FDChief

Not that this means anything more than that I'm not the only one who can think of this stuff, but here's Matt Yglesias thinking the same way I am:

http://matthewyglesias.theatlantic.com/archives/2007/09/honorable_men.php

johnf

In the last few days I distinctly remember seeing a photo of Abdul Sattar Abu Risha shaking hands with Bush and some fairly derogatory comments about him underneath, but I can't for the life of me remember where it was.

The fact that it might not have been al-Qaeda is underlined by this June 11th Washington Post story:


]A tribal coalition formed to oppose the extremist group al-Qaeda in Iraq, a development that U.S. officials say has reduced violence in Iraq's troubled Anbar province, is beginning to splinter, according to an Anbar tribal leader and a U.S. military official familiar with tribal politics.

]In an interview in his Baghdad office, Ali Hatem Ali Suleiman, 35, a leader of the Dulaim confederation, the largest tribal organization in Anbar, said that the Anbar Salvation Council would be dissolved because of growing internal dissatisfaction over its cooperation with U.S. soldiers and the behavior of the council's most prominent member, Abdul Sattar Abu Risha. Suleiman called Abu Risha a "traitor" who "sells his beliefs, his religion and his people for money."

jonst

Mo,

Why do you automatically assume AQ of Mesopotamia did it? I could of lots of suspects. Sure, AQiI might be the most logical one...but that its. Plenty of others.

johnf

In the last few days I distinctly remember seeing a photo of Abdul Sattar Abu Risha shaking hands with Bush and some fairly derogatory comments about him underneath, but I can't for the life of me remember where it was.

The fact that it might not have been al-Qaeda is underlined by this June 11th Washington Post story:


]A tribal coalition formed to oppose the extremist group al-Qaeda in Iraq, a development that U.S. officials say has reduced violence in Iraq's troubled Anbar province, is beginning to splinter, according to an Anbar tribal leader and a U.S. military official familiar with tribal politics.

]In an interview in his Baghdad office, Ali Hatem Ali Suleiman, 35, a leader of the Dulaim confederation, the largest tribal organization in Anbar, said that the Anbar Salvation Council would be dissolved because of growing internal dissatisfaction over its cooperation with U.S. soldiers and the behavior of the council's most prominent member, Abdul Sattar Abu Risha. Suleiman called Abu Risha a "traitor" who "sells his beliefs, his religion and his people for money."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/10/AR2007061001453.html

ISL

I completely agree with the colonel that the "game" just was revealed as more multilayered than originally thought, and that is not good news, as the US generally seems to be in a poor informational position viz the "insurgency."

Mo:

The assumption being it was AlQ in Iraq. However, one gets the impression from the news/pentagon/Maliki govt, that AlQ is everywhere.

However, given independent estimates of foreigners being 2-5% of the insurgency, IMHO it is far more plausible that we are seeing an alignment of some tribes with the US vs other tribes, continued settling of scores, attempts to shift power balances, etc.

J

one more factor to add to the chess board -- fallon's personal disdain of petraeus.

see:
http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=39235

johnf

Laura Rozen recommends Marc Lynch's post;


Nothing could have been more predictable than the murder of Abu Risha, the man most closely identified with America's Anbar strategy. He was the public face of the turn against al-Qaeda, and Petraeus immediately said that "it shows Al Qaeda in Iraq remains a very dangerous and barbaric enemy." But there's no reason to assume that al-Qaeda killed him - I'd guess that one of the nationalist insurgency groups, the ones which current American rhetoric pretends don't exist - is a more likely suspect. Other tribes deeply resented him. The major nationalist insurgency groups had recently issued a series of statements denouncing people who would illegitimately seize the fruits of their victorious jihad - of whom he was the prime example. All those photographs which swamped the Arab media showing him shaking hands with President Bush made him even more a marked man than before.

His murder graphically demonstrates that the other groups threatened by the American Anbar strategy were never going to just sit back passively and allow it to succeed - an obvious strategic point which has always seemed to elude surge advocates. The Sunni strategy as presented by surge advocates has always rested not only on a whole series of dubious claims about Iraqi Sunni politics, but also relies on a whole series of best-case scenarios in which nothing could go wrong. In Iraq, something always goes wrong.

It's a major setback for the strategy, particularly at the symbolic level. Even if Abu Risha was a poor choice to "lead" the strategy, he was in fact elevated to that symbolic position by American propaganda and practice (that meeting with the President, for instance). His murder demonstrates that even America's closest friends are not untouchable - not even on the day of a Presidential address expected to rely heavily on progress in Anbar. The political fallout of the murder inside of Iraq may well exceed Abu Risha's actual role in Sunni politics.

More later.

UPDATE: Nobody has yet claimed responsibility for the assassination. According to an Iraqi blogger, Abu Risha's tribal rival Ali Hatem Sulayman blamed al-Qaeda for the assassination during an al-Arabiya interview (I didn't see it). According to the al-Haq News Agency, the Anbar Salvation Council itself is blaming the Maliki government - not a good sign that the most pro-American Sunni movement is pointing fingers at the Shia-led national government. The insurgency's forums are joyous, with "Allahu Akbars" everywhere. The al-Boraq forum, which runs statements from all factions but is currently hosted on the server of the Islamic Army of Iraq, features a post which praises God for the killing: "the mujahideen promised and they delivered."


http://abuaardvark.typepad.com/abuaardvark/2007/09/abu-risha-murde.html

Sidney O. Smith III

To Stephen Calhoun re: 3d chess.

Your metaphors are fascinating. Aren’t you the depth psychologist perhaps influenced by the Jungian school? If I may try to use terminology from your field (please bear with me, I've had to it as a litigator), your metaphors suggest rather poetically that the US is sinking into the negative influences of the collective unconscious.

Drowning feeling, passing out from a drinking game and disorientation from 3d chess. They seem to suggest the nemesis aspect from the hubris-nemesis complex described in the 1994 Rand Study.

I am absolutely fascinated by what you expressed earlier: that Bush is not causing group think but is caused by the group think. It makes good sense. So based on what you have written, I am wondering if you are suggesting that the entire US is therefore unaware and not conscious, in fact drowning or becoming unconscious from a deadly drinking game.

A brief disclosure and then an idea. Yes, I spent forever and a day reading Jung’s Symbols of Transformation, especially after I decided that Jung and Freud were in a major war where the stakes could not have been higher. Theirs was a supreme drama -- one of the great intellectual conflicts from Vienna during the 20th C. And I do give Jung the nod in his battle royale with Freud. But Freud came across as a better writer. More incisive. Of course, from what I could piece together reading all that material, once Jung published his book -- Symbols of Transformation -- Freud’s creativity plummeted. So there appears to have been one major psyop war between the two.

From my perspective, both come across as benefactors to mankind, in their own way.

One other Jung book, I believe, is apropos to deepening one’s understanding of our Middle Eastern conflict -- Man and His Symbols. Jung wrote some relevant passages that seem to foreshadow how adversaries project onto each other when at war. In today’s context, it is fascinating to see how Hagee and Ahmadinejad sound so much alike. If Hagee looked in the mirror, he might see Ahmadinejad.

Seems like one way for the US to win -- or at least not drown -- is to become more conscious and transcend the dynamic described in Man and His Symbols. And then it becomes critically important to employ the proper collective symbols.

Cold War Zoomie

It might not matter if AQI actually killed Sheikh Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha. What really matters is what the "locals" think. No-one's taken responsibility. One possibility is a rival who wants to increase resistance against AQI while also laying the ground work to be the new power player once AQI is basically out of the picture. Two birds with one stone.

It will be interesting to see what the Arab news sources are saying in the coming days.

SWERV21

seems as if the dogs of war are about to be let loose again in the levant. the media blackout re: the israeli strikes in syria has been total and impressive.

any thoughts would be welcome

johnf

I've tracked down the post I saw at the time of Bush's handshake. Again its from Marc Lynch:

]And I didn't even mention the widely discussed, sensational rumor that he had skipped town with $75 million in American cash - which evidently wasn't true, or else was just a "misunderstanding" which has been "resolved", but does speak to endless circulation of unpleasant rumors about the guy's corruption and mercenary behavior.


http://abuaardvark.typepad.com/abuaardvark/2007/09/bush-and-abu-ri.html

Mo

Apologies to having stated my belief of AQ's guilt without qualification. I point the finger at AQ by process of elimination.

In my opinion (and emphasis on opinion):
It wasn't the Shia. If AQ are around when the US leaves then the AQ v Shia battle will be the biggest and bloodiest. Anyone fighting AQ before that battle happens is doing them a favour.

It wasn't the insurgency. For all the talk of the insurgency not liking people who shake hands with Bush, well this is the Middle East.I doubt any tribesmen able to wage war on AQ were not or have not also taken part in the insurgency if they are not still part of it. My enemy's enemy and all that.


The most likely alternative to AQ is another Sunni tribe. But I prefer the AQ scenario because I don't believe the Sunnis think they are strong enough to be getting rid of their more influential leaders so easily and so soon. And if he was so widely disliked as some have reported there are far less violent ways to move him on. If the culprits were to be another tribe the blood feud and battles that will result will destroy the alliance they have and AQ will soon be back in town.

Sorry for disaggreing with everyone but I remain of the belief that AQ wanted to send a message to the Anbaris and to any that might oppose them.

Walrus

Having worked in the World of information technology where the phenomenon of "smoke and mirrors" is well known it's very easy to be overwhelmed by the dimensions of a situation if you do not have an extremely accurate mental GPS to guide you through the maze.

George W Bush not only doesn't have this "mental GPS", he has actively ensured that no one else is allowed to have one either. What usually happens when one follows ones instinct instead of a good compass or GPS while walking in the woods is to travel in a great big circle.

Then of course there are those like the AEI, who will tell you which dimensions are important, and which aren't. At present the only dimension on Bush's mind is the historical dimension and his "legacy".

Lets just catalogue some of these dimensions - we are definitely not in a 3D space.

- Geopolitical dimension - China, Russia and so on.

- Energy dimension - oil.

- economic and financial dimension

- humanitarian dimension (ignored)

- Iraqi dimension, national, tribal, clan and family levels.

- the religious dimension

The list goes on.....

Yet Iraq is being portrayed as a two dimensional Manicheaen contest between good and evil, and too many people buy that simple line, to their eventual cost.

Clifford Kiracofe

Meanwhile,

"BAGHDAD, Sept. 12 — A carefully constructed compromise on a draft law governing Iraq’s rich oil fields, agreed to in February after months of arduous talks among Iraqi political groups, appears to have collapsed. The apparent breakdown comes just as Congress and the White House are struggling to find evidence that there is progress toward reconciliation and a functioning government here....

Contributing to the dispute is the decision by the Kurds to begin signing contracts with international oil companies before the federal law is passed. The most recent instance, announced last week on a Kurdish government Web site, was an oil exploration contract with the Hunt Oil Company of Dallas."

The Hunts of Dallas, for which see:
http://www.huntoil.com/

elkern

This is off-track, but I'm curious about last week's Israeli air raid over Syria. It was originally billed by Syria as merely an infringement of their airspace, supposedly chased off by Syrian AA. There was some speculation about it being a dry run for a raid on Iran, or just testing of new Russian AA systems. But this week, we hear that they really did bomb something in Syria; maybe Iranian weapons bound for Hezbollah?

What the hell is the real story?

FDChief

"It wasn't the Shia. If AQ are around when the US leaves then the AQ v Shia battle will be the biggest and bloodiest. Anyone fighting AQ before that battle happens is doing them a favour."

Unless they suspect that that person will emerge from the battle capable of returning the Sunni to power in Baghdad (see below). Given what we know about the raw numbers of AQI vs. Sunni fighters (tiny) and their popularity among the run of Iraqi MAMs (lower than whaleshit) the "biggest and bloodiest" battle between the Shia militias (including the baddest SM on the block, the IA/IP) should last about fifteen minutes, twenty if the Shia insist on leaving the lights off. AQI vs. Shia the "mother of all battles"? Please. I hate it when I laugh to where the milk squirts out my nose...

"It wasn't the insurgency. I doubt any tribesmen able to wage war on AQ were not or have not also taken part in the insurgency if they are not still part of it."

WTF? And this is because...ummm...why? Because you can't simultaneously fight your enemies as well as kneecap your internal rivals? The boyos of the PIRA are laughin' at ya, chum.


John Hammer

It is my belief that the main line Sunni insurgency has been fighting the U.S. in order to make the U.S. be on its side. Therefore shaking hands with Bush would be a step in the right direction.

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