Friday, September 14, 2007
EXCLUSIVE: In One Of His Last Interviews Before His Death Iraqi Tribal Leader Abu Risha Details Relationship With U.S. Military
With Amy Goodman
"AMY GOODMAN: The assassinated tribal leader was named Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Risha. He died Thursday in a bombing near his home in Ramadi. One year ago to the day, Abu Risha organized twenty-five pro-US Sunni clans to form the Anbar Awakening to fight members of al-Qaeda. His assassination is considered a major setback for US forces in Anbar. President Bush met with Sheikh Abu Risha just ten days ago, during his brief visit to Anbar province.
Listeners and viewers of Democracy Now! might recognize Sheikh Abu Risha’s name. On Tuesday we played an excerpt from an expose that aired on Al Jazeera English. It was produced by Rick Rowley, David Enders and Hiba Dawood, with support from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. They interviewed Sheikh Abu Risha in Jordan in July......
AMY GOODMAN: Filmmaker and journalist Rick Rowley of Big Noise Films, who produced this piece, joins us in the New York studio. He has just returned from Iraq and Jordan, interviewed the sheikh in Jordan in July.
Welcome. It's great to have you back. Just a few days ago, we played this documentary. Talk about the significance of the assassination of Abu Risha, Rick.
RICK ROWLEY: Well, his assassination just tears another huge hole in the story that the American administration has been trying to sell us about a victory and a success in Iraq. You know, in their story, Abdul Sattar Abu Risha was a Lawrence of Arabia figure who was leading an uprising of Sunni tribes that was going to kick out al-Qaeda and was going to be a close ally of the Americans. The situation is obviously much more complicated than that.
As our film showed, you know, first of all, the group is internally split and divisive. I mean, there are different factions who are fighting for control of it. Al-Qaeda or the Sunni tribes, insurgent tribes, who are opposed to Abu Risha are still active and present in Anbar. And the most important fact is that many of these groups who are part of this Anbar Awakening and Iraq Awakening are actually war criminals who are responsible for sectarian cleansing and who are arming and using US support to prepare themselves for a sectarian civil war......"