Sheikh Sattar Abu Risha, killed

This morning I watched an Al Jazeera program (parts one, two) on the Anbar Awakening that interviewed Sheikh Sattar Abu Risha, the supposed 'unifier' of various Sunni Arab tribes in Al-Anbar. Abu Risha seemed like a pretty shady character, and he made some extraordinary claims, like he was the head of all Arab tribes in Iraq. He also dared the 'terrorists' to attack him when he returned to Iraq (he was spending time in Jordan and Dubai). It was his own version of "bring it on".

General Petraeus immediately blamed the assassination on Al Qaeda. The news articles don't mention any claim of responsibility, and I don't see why the assassination couldn't have been the result of an old-fashioned power struggle.

Now the Washington Post and BBC are reporting that he was assassinated by a roadside bomb. This continues the trend of anyone who might conceivably play any role in Iraqi political reconciliation (although I doubt Abu Risha would have played any helpful role in that) being assassinated, or intimidated into fleeing Iraq.

What will happen to the Anbar Awakening, now that its progenitor has been killed? Will there be a succession struggle for the largess that the US military has showered on Abu Risha? Probably. Supposedly the actual head of the Anbar Awakening is Sheikh Sittar ar Rishawi, so now we can see whether Abu Risha was just a braggart or whether he actually played an important role.

Update: Marc Lynch (Abu Aardvark) posts his thoughts.

Update: Annonymous commentor clarifies the situation, pointing out that Abu Risha and Sittar ar Rishawi are the same person.


Anonymous said...

same guy, abu risha and abdul sattar, naming variances,

Adrian said...

Egg on my face - thanks for clearing that up.

aelkus said...

I think it was probably the result of a power struggle too, to be quite honest. We blame everything on AQI because it's politically useful.

Adrian said...

Looked like it was AQIZ after all. It'd be interesting to know if Petraeus knew that when he made his public statement though.

aelkus said...

Yeah, it's an interesting question.